12 January 2006

Allow me to reiterate...

Worn out

Today I'm going to take advantage of the fact that this is my weblog and simply reiterate (for clarity's sake and for emphasis' sake) the same simple point I tried to make yesterday.

I should explain, first of all, that although the past two days have generated a record number of comments, and I would love to interact in detail with all of them, I've barely had time even to read some of them. On Tuesday I spent the morning preparing a funeral sermon and the afternoon actually doing the funeral and graveside services. Yesterday I spent most of the day giving a deposition in an unusual legal case. (I can't really describe the nature of the case, but I'm just a peripheral witness, neither the victim nor the accused. Nonetheless, the process required me to spend all afternoon Wednesday in downtown Los Angeles. Obviously, that ate up the better part of the day.)

Tonight we have houseguests coming to stay through the weekend, and meanwhile unanswered e-mail and other pressing duties are stacking up. So it's unlikely that I'll be able to post another extensive entry in the "cessationism" discussion before next week. Thanks for your patience, and feel free to keep commenting.

I did, however, print out fifty or so comments that had been posted by 11:00 AM yesterday, and I took them downtown with me to read while I was waiting to be deposed.

As I said, I can't reply to every point and every question, but I want to respond to one issue that keeps coming up. I thought I had addressed this (albeit obliquely) several times before, and I also thought I was clearly making a major point of it in yesterday's post. But perhaps I have been too subtle. (That's a problem I seem to have sometimes. I'm trying hard to overcome it.)

Let's try again:

The kneejerk demand for "exegesis" at the very start of the cessationism discussion is fatuous.

"Exegesis" for what? So far I haven't actually taken any positions or made any controversial biblical claims that require "exegetical" support. All I have done to date is point out how hard it is to find any credible person, even from the charismatic camp, who really believes the apostolic signs and offices are still in full operation just like when the apostle Paul raised Eutychus from the dead. I quoted some charismatic authors to establish their position. There's hardly any need for supporting "exegesis" on that.

Furthermore, I have asserted almost nothing about the degree of cessationism I hold to. I have not even actually stated whether I believe miracles (as distinct from miraculous gifts) occur today. I've merely argued that a genuinely non-cessationist, strictly pure continuationist theology is practically unheard of.

(Even in the earlier discussion last month, when I made several posts pointing out what an extraordinarily high percentage of modern "prophecies" turn out to be bogus, I did not actually argue—yet—that the gift of prophecy has utterly and finally ceased. As a matter of fact, several times I explicitly pointed out that I was not making any such argument. See, for example, the statement in large red type near the end of this post.)

That refusal to assert any specific degree of cessationism is a deliberate omission and not an accidental oversight on my part. I am first simply trying to establish the fact that no one who is credible seriously believes that all the miracles and gifts of the apostolic era are commonplace today. I don't need a proof-text, or any amount of "exegesis" to validate that.

As a matter of fact (unless I missed a comment) no one has yet seriously asserted the contrary. No one has come forward to offer any earnest defense for the claim that nothing whatsoever has changed in the exercise of miraculous gifts since Peter commanded the lame man at the Temple gate to rise and walk. Moreover, everyone (including a few bold commenters yesterday who seemed to doubt whether the canon is really closed) has agreed that no new Scripture has been written for the past 1900 years.

Now, show me something there that requires "exegetical support," and I'll try to tackle the challenge. Otherwise, it would be better to stay with the actual argument that's being made, and interact with that.

And be patient. When some argument I'm making calls for biblical support, I'll do my best to give it. But the principle of sola Scriptura has never meant that all theological arguments are invalid unless they can be substantiated with some proof-text. What "exegetical proof" would you have cited in 18 BC to confirm the truth that no new Scripture had been written for 400 years, since the time of Malachi?

And does the fact that no Old Testament text actually predicted the cessation of the Old Testament Prophetic office alter the reality that the office did in fact cease?

Likewise, there has never been any hue and cry for proof-texts or "exegetical support" for the almost universal conviction that nothing has been added to the New Testament canon since the end of the first century. Why do you suppose almost no one ever demands any biblical argument for that?

191 comments:

Gummby said...

I, for one, never cease to be amazed at your subtlety.

Mike Garner said...


Scripture says the miracles were apostolic signs (2 Corinthians 12:12), and therefore by definition they pertained specifically and uniquely to the apostolic era.


Exegetical Support for this comment would be wonderful.

evanmay said...

Mike:

To be fair to Pyro, I don't believe he was intent on presenting the argument in that post. Rather, he was simply telling us what the argument was.

Catez said...

Hi Phil,
When I asked if you could explain your part about miracles in the previous post I wasn't actually thinking about what degree of cessationism you might hold. I was really just wanting to make sure I read you correctly and was hearing right.

As for biblical arguments, in Scripture itself, there is ample evidence that miracles were extraordinary, rare events, usually associated in some significant way with people who spoke inspired and infallible utterances.

I am not sure if when you say "miracles were..." that you mean miraculous gifts or miracles generally. So when you added:

It is obvious from the biblical narrative that miracles were declining in frequency even before the apostolic era drew to a close. Scripture says the miracles were apostolic signs (2 Corinthians 12:12), and therefore by definition they pertained specifically and uniquely to the apostolic era.

I was not sure if you meant that the verse from 2 Cor is taken to refer to miracles gnerally, or if your whole paragraph was about miraculous gifts. I'm still not sure. My question doesn't bear on the other points you made really - it is just still unclear to me.

I appreciate you are busy, which is why I simply asked a question and didn't assume, and am still not assuming. I have been interested to hear what you have to say and appreciate that you will post as you are able. I like to consider what some-one says and try to hear what they mean.

Mike Garner said...

Mike:

To be fair to Pyro, I don't believe he was intent on presenting the argument in that post. Rather, he was simply telling us what the argument was.


I certainly understand that. I don't expect Phil to be able to address every key point of the Cessationism in one or two posts. However, I think to make the claim that "Scripture says" requires that A) the Scripture teaches it or B) some sort of outlining of how he reasoned that from the text. The verse does not clearly "say" what he has said so I am curious to see the steps that he took from this verse to the conclusion that he wrote.


Now, if I were to hear that at some point in the future he would be explaining this, then that would be fine. I'm content with waiting, but I want to have some assurance that make this assertion and throwing down a verse is not going to be the end of that line of reasoning.



Hopefully that clears things up.

In Christ alone,
mike

Cameron said...

I am not a cessasionist.

Not in any way, shape, or form.

In other words, I do believe that the same anointing, the same authority, the same gifts that were available to believers in the book of Acts are available to us today.

Does that mean that today's prophets are inerrant or perfect? No. But neither were those in the early church.

The authors of Scripture were inerrantly, 100% inspired only while writing the Scriptures. At other times, they were susceptible to mistakes, as all human beings are. They were specially, supernaturally guided while writing the Scriptures to ensure that every word is God-inspired and complete, but it is not then necessary that the rest of their lives were lived under this same complete inerrancy.

Is every letter from Paul canon? How about his letter to the church in Laodecia? No, they are not. God completely supernaturally guided the church councils to compile His Word that was completely supernaturally inspired.

Consider Acts 21:10-14. Agabus is called a prophet, and he tried to persuade the Apostle Paul (along with the others there) not to go up to Jerusalem. Paul, however, had decided to go up. In the end, in verse 14, they all declared, "The will of the Lord be done."

If apostles and prophets spoke for the Lord with 100% accuracy all the time, would there have been any need to say, "The will of the Lord be done"? Wouldn't they have known what the will of the Lord was? And how would it have been possible for Paul (an apostle) and Agabus (a prophet) to reach different conclusions?

Even in the early church, the people functioning in the office of apostle, prophet, pastor, teacher, evangelist, were fallible. And it is the same today.

However, I can agree with you on some of the points you have made. It is true that I do not know anyone today who walks consistently in the same power and anointing as Paul and the 12. Many famous modern "prophets" are false.

But should my experience dictate my theology? Or should God's Word? I will choose God's Word, and it clear from God's Word that no cessasionist argument can be made. Rather we are told that we will lay hands on the sick and they will recover, we will cast out demons, and we will do "greater works" than Jesus Himself (John 14:12).

So the question becomes-who is to blame? Is God's Word at fault, or is there something lacking in our Christian experience that keeps us from experiencing the power God has promised us? Many Christians have tried to sidestep this question by inventing doctrines like cessationism-doctrines invented purely from experience. We look at our situation and try to make the Scriptures match it, instead of looking at Scriptures and asking God to change our situation.

We can live in the power of the early church. Scripture makes it clear. So let's seek the promises of God, based on His Word, not our circumstances.

Catez said...

Hi evanmay,
For me the presentation of the argument is what I'm trying to understand. It can read as saying miracles declined and then the verse being quoted to join miracles to the apostolic era and thus to say miracles were apostolic and they have ceased,
or
it can say miraculous gifts declined, and that miraculous gifts were apostolic and then by extension miraculous gifts have ceased. The verse itself only refers to the signs and wonders that followed the apostles so that's why it is not clear to me what Phil actually meant there. Not trying to pressure here but explaining that it is the wording of the paragraph that has left me unsure - he refers just to "miracles" you see.

Catez said...

Hi Cameron,
Bit of a sermon there! Be helpful if you were more concise. But on this I'll respond:
Consider Acts 21:10-14. Agabus is called a prophet, and he tried to persuade the Apostle Paul (along with the others there) not to go up to Jerusalem.

Actually, there is nothing in that passage that states that Agabus tried to persuade Paul not to go to Jerusalem. He took a Paul's belt, bound his hands and feet and told him, "Thus says the Holy Spirit, 'So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles"

There is nothing in anything Agabus said that is trying persuade Paul not to go - it is quite clearly telling him what will happen when he does go. It is other people - none of whom the passage refers to as prophets, who plead with Paul not to go.

I think you need to read the passage again Cameron. What the passage shows is that Agabus prophesied what would happen. It's not correct to say he tried to persuade Paul not to go.

Rusty said...

Phil,

I'm beginning to believe that some people lack the discernment to recognize that you aren't presenting your entire argument in one post. If these folks keep making the same ol' demands, you may want to turn off the option to comment on these particular entries. I decided today that if I ever receive the volume of comments on a single day, I'd have to turn them off. I can't handle even reading them all =)

Thanks for your diligence.

Rusty

Catez said...

How about his letter to the church in Laodecia?

How about it? Do you have it? Can you state unequivocally that it was not the word of God to that church at that time? On what basis?

And... can you state unequivocally that it wasn't the word of God but was fallible? On what basis? Paul was an apostle - he said and did many things that have not come down to us. Which only proves that he said and did many things we do not know of. That's not an argument for current day fallibility in things we do know of and can test against scripture - which is God's word. I'm open to listening but your arguments are awful Cameron - sorry but they are. Scripture - which you admit is divinely inspired - tells us the criteria for prophecy. But in order to change the criteria you refer to examples outside of scripture - which don't even prove the point you're trying to make.

Cameron said...

Catez:

I've been reading this blog for 5 months and finally got the inspiration to post! Can you blame me if it was a little bit too long?

About Agabus, it seemed that he would joined those trying to dissuade Paul, but in reviewing I guess it's not clear from the text.

But it still doesn't diminish the point I was making? How about Paul having to confront Peter (Galatians 2:11-14)? The point I was making is that even in the early church, apostles, prophets, ministers were not inerrant. Neither are they today.

Catez said...

Rusty, re this:
I'm beginning to believe that some people lack the discernment to recognize that you aren't presenting your entire argument in one post.

Of course he isn't making his whole argument in one post. Asking for clarification on something he did say in that one post (and I'm fine with waiting) is not lacking discernment. Sorry - I don't just swallow things when I don't know what they mean. I totally appreciate what Phil has said about his post and his time constraints. Explaining what I'm unsure of for future reference is not lacking discernment. Actually we could have an interesting discussion on what discernment means and how it gets misapplied - or maybe not.

Cameron said...

Catez:

So you think that the letter to the church in Laodecia was on the same level as the letter to Colossians? So did God choose which epistles to keep in the Scriptures on an ad hoc basis?

I do believe the letter to the church in Colosse was a word from God to them, but it was not Scripture. And Scripture is the only 100%, completely reliable plumbline we have.

As for making arguments outside of Scripture, I don't know what you're referring to. Both of the examples you've taken issue with came out of Scripture.

Cameron said...

Paragraph two of my last post...

I do believe the letter to the church in "Laodecia" was a word from God for them, but it was not Scripture.

I meant "Laodecia", not "Colosse"!

Catez said...

Cameron,
Well yes it does diminish the point you were making totally. You seem to be confusing human error with error in miraculous gifts.
You mention Paul confronting Peter - yet what has that to do with miraculous gifts? What does that have to do with prophecy? Look at what Paul confronted Peter about - he stopped eating with Gentiles. Nothing there saying he prophesied that people should not eat with Gentiles. Nothing there saying he claimed this was the will of the Holy Spirit or divinely inspired action.

You are confusing human error in other matters with divine infalliblity in prophecy and gifts of the Holy Spirit. Of course there is no-one except Jesus who is without sin - but you are confusing that with terms like infallibility and inerrancy.

Secondly, we have the scripture - we have the record as God's word - so we know that withdawing from eating with believers on the basis of uncircumcision is not God's mandate.

If you want to make your point then you must make it as it applies. You will need to find a scriptural example of a prophet or apostle, who, when operating in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, was not 100% correct. Your arguments are still not good I'm afraid. You are wanting to dilute scriptural standards to meet current day phenomenon. Rather current day phenomenon must meet scriptural standards.

Catez said...

So you think that the letter to the church in Laodecia was on the same level as the letter to Colossians?

Cameron I'm not going to discuss with you if it gets silly. Please read what I said. You have made a very poor argument - essentially you have tried to say that because a letter was not included in the bible it shows fallibility in the apostolic use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. But now you are saying it was on a level with scripture but was not included - so that would mean it was not fallible.

Which doesn't prove anything except that there was a letter.

It is no case for continuationism or cessationsim - it's off the point. As I said in my last comment - if you want to use scripture to prove fallibility in the use of ther gifts of the Holy Spirit then find an example of that specifically.

Catez said...

I'm not trying to be mean Cameron, appreciating this is your first commenting after 5 months - but I am being rigorous. Start with what scripture actually says - on the issue. By "going outside of scripture" I meant using an example that is not in scripture. Some of your examples have been from scripture but were misapplied or you misread them. Some have been appealing to a non-scriptural basis.

Matt said...

Wow.

Leaving other peoples' comments aside, thank you Phil for being clear and concise on the points you wish to make. Here in the Blogosphere it can be all to easy to end up in general flim-flammery because people expect you to pander to their individual demands, seeing you as some sort of theology-bot whose sole purpose in life is to spew out answers to their arguments and questions so that they, in turn, can raise more objections that they expect you to answer.

I, for one, am glad to see you posting sans beeftubes (to coin a phrase meaning 'without humourous/sarcastic references and digs which serve only to dilute the strength and genuine-ness of your arguments'). Keep it up. Serious Phil is much better than jokey Phil, because it gives the critics fewer legs and lower ground to stand on.

God bless. Defend the faith :)

Rusty said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rusty said...

catez,

my post may have been the first to follow yours, but why did you assume I was referring to you? =)

Steve said...

Phil said, "And does the fact that no Old Testament text actually predicted the cessation of the Old Testament Prophetic office alter the reality that the office did in fact cease?"

Touche.

I can emphathize with your busyness, Phil. I'm amazed you managed to produce even this "detailed clarification" post in the midst of all you're doing.

DJP said...

Cameron:

I am not a cessasionist.

Not in any way, shape, or form.

In other words, I do believe that the same anointing, the same authority, the same gifts that were available to believers in the book of Acts are available to us today.

Does that mean that today's prophets are inerrant or perfect? No. But neither were those in the early church.


If I'm reading you right, that makes you a Bill Clinton "continuationalist."

Phil, I'm enjoying every post. Keep it up.

Chris HH said...

Well said, Cameron! You are a brave man, and put the case well. It is also great to see it has provoked some sensible dialogue too.

The points he makes are perfectly valid. The Lord spoke through fallible human beings then, so there is no difference to the fallible means of communication he uses now. Even the authors of the infallible word were at other times fallible, so the continuance of apostles and prophets does not necessitate an open canon.

The point he makes about Agabus is also valid. Lets examine what he said:

Coming over to us, he took Paul's belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, "The Holy Spirit says, `In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.' "

And what actually happened:

While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar.
He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done.


Two things are clear. First, this was obviously a genuine prophecy that was fulfilled. Second, in one minor detail, it was not 100% correct. It was not the Jews who bound Paul, though they did cause him to be bound.

When God communicates to a prophet it is not a dictation. The prophet must still put into words what he has received. Rather like an artist must use the canvas and paints to convey what he sees. No picture will ever be 100% accurate, but that does not lessen it's merit. I'm a terrible artist, but if I drew a picture of a bus, you could still tell it was a bus, even though it would be woefully inadequate as a true representation.

In the same way Paul says - we can all prophesy. That is we can all hear the voice of God (not audibly with our ears, but with our spirit - the eyes of our heart as Paul says) and then attempt to put into words what we have witnessed. But just as some are gifted by God as great artist, so others are gifted to the church with a greater ability to communicate the heart of God.

The fact that such prophecies may contain aspects of the prophet rather than the Lord, should not alarm us. God has always communicated this way. Even the infallible word carries the hallmarks of the style and characteristics of the authors who penned it as well as the Lord who inspired it.

Nor does prophecy undermine the authority of scripture. In fact the authority of scripture demands that we respect it and do not treat it with contempt.

DJP said...

...and Clinton (insisted that he) did not have "sex" with that woman, Monica Lewinsky....

Steve said...

Chris hh and Cameron: Think carefully about what you're saying. In essence, when it comes to the miraculous gifts, you are saying that the manifestation doesn't really have to be perfect. It can be less than perfect. Let's apply your logic to the gift of healing. Your logic permits for healing that won't be quite 100 percent. Because God is working through a human vessel, sometimes the healing might be only 80 percent, or even 40 percent. Applying your logic to prophecy, you run in to a major problem. Scripture says prophecy has to be 100 percent accurate, period.

Chris hh said, "When God communicates to a prophet it is not a dictation. The prophet must still put into words what he has received."

Again, think carefully. If the prophet is not fully transmitting what the Lord Himself says, then what part of the message is from the Lord, and what part is from man?

No matter how you argue it, ultimately, such a perspective leaves us with a less-than-infallible and less-than-inerrant Scripture.

Chris HH said...

Steve, no prophecy of scripture is less than infallible. But not all scripture is prophecy, and not all prophecy is scripture.

The prophecies of scripture are as infallible as the poetry, the history, the theology, the exhortations, admonitions, instructions, and the laws.

I think we both made it clear we do not question the inerrant nature of scripture.

"If the prophet is not fully transmitting what the Lord Himself says, then what part of the message is from the Lord, and what part is from man?"

That is why prophecies should always be weighed. To go back to my drawing of a bus, if you take it to be an indication only you are fine, if you use it as an architects drawing you are in trouble! Discernment is needed and prophecies should never be taken with the same authority as the blue-prints laid out in the word, but neither should they be dismissed out of hand.

This actually gives more security, not less.

candyinsierras said...

djp...it would be kinda nice if you would discuss the issue instead of equating fellow christians with clintonesque comparisons. You have more than once thrown out critical words directed at people with a different persuasion than you. Just an observation.

DJP said...

Thanks for your concern. I'm sorry you don't see the connection. I'm assuming you read the linked essay. Is there some specific part that you'd like me to clarify for you?

Matt said...

Chris hh,

If we have a blueprint why do we need a sketch? Especially if the drawer of the blueprint has promised to give us full understanding of that blueprint?

What all this (could) boil down to is: is the Word all sufficient, or do we need extra revelation? If we needed it, God would have given it. If not, then surely it is right to see extra-biblical revelation as something ungodly which has its end in distracting us from the Word's sufficiency, and thus God's sufficiency? His grace is sufficient for us, for His strength is made perfect in weakness - is it strength or weakness to rely on what has gone before and not to seek after gifts or their existance in order to follow God truly? Unless anyone here has personally experienced God speaking directly to them, or has worked miracles, I don't see any reason why we shoul,d (even hypothetically) argue for their existance.

Any ideas?

Scott Roche said...

I don't believe that John 14:12 is talking about anything "miraculous. Rather those "greater things" refer in my mind to sering, loving, and leading people to Christ. If you believe otherwise then I encourage you to feed five thousand, turn water to wine, heck just lay hands on someone who has pimples and cure them.

Matt said...

P.S: Apologies to Phil for turning his blog into a scuffleground (albeit a friendly one). Hey, where else can we engage in a bit of civilised transatlantic tussling over theology? At least it keeps us on our toes! :)

DJP said...

capt. eucalyptus --

Strictly speaking, wouldn't they have to feed five thousand and one men? And turn seven large stone pots of water into extra-extra-good wine?

Dan

Matt said...

PPS: Going from the quote in 2 Corinthians 12:9 and surrounding verses, surely we should know that sufferings were more a characteristic of God's servants throughout scripture than gifts and power? Are the men we see prophesying men of sorrows and acquianted with grief, thus following the apostolic grace of being imitators of Christ? Ah, for more suffering to temper our tongues and train our hearts; for if we have persecution at least then we know we have something that was DEFINITELY promised and spelled out for us by our Saviour!!!! No-one can argue with that, can they?

Steve said...

Chris hh said: "Discernment is needed and prophecies should never be taken with the same authority as the blue-prints laid out in the word, but neither should they be dismissed out of hand."

That is very thin ice to tread.

If they "should never be taken with the same authority," then why consider them at all? This is an explicit admission that these prophecies are "lesser in kind." Either what God says is authoritative, or it isn't. There's no middle ground.

You go on to say, "Neither should they be dismissed out of hand."

The fact is, much of what has been claimed to be prophecy HAS had to be dismissed. The track record is well below 100 percent. That poses a serious problem. Those prophecies clearly didn't come from God.

puritanicoal said...

Phil said:

"All I have done to date is point out how hard it is to find any credible person, even from the charismatic camp, who really believes the apostolic signs and offices are still in full operation just like when the apostle Paul raised Eutychus from the dead."

"Apostolic signs" is a misnomer, at best. "Signs and wonders" were not limited to the Apostles:

Acts 6:8 - Stephen was not an Apostle, but performed signs.

Acts 8:6 - Phillip was not an Apostle, but he performed signs.

Gal. 3:5 - there was some unknown person(s) performing signs.

Luke 10:9 - Jesus sent out 70, not just the 12 to perform signs.

See also 1 Cor. 12:9-10.

I do agree that the specific, capital "A," Apostolic Office is no longer around. But, signs and wonders were not an exclusive signature of that office.

Chris HH said...

Matt, it's a pleasure to engage in "a bit of civilised transatlantic tussling over theology". My thanks to Phil for hosting this discussion, and I hope we have not gone too far of topic to invoke his displeasure.

"If we have a blueprint why do we need a sketch?"

Because the blueprint is the generic word to all people at all times. It is timeless and always applicable. Just think how thick the Bible would have to be if it also needed to convey every specific word that God wished to express to each and every believer that would only be relevant for specific points in that person's life.

"Unless anyone here has personally experienced God speaking directly to them, or has worked miracles, I don't see any reason why we shoul,d (even hypothetically) argue for their existance."

I have personally experienced God speaking to me many times. The clearest was when he told to to leave my first job and go to Bible College. Best decision I ever made, it was where I met my wife, and received invaluable training in the word. Which passage of scripture would have told me that?

Steve:
If they "should never be taken with the same authority," then why consider them at all?

Steve, would you throw out a sketch if you knew it was from God and was written especially for you just because it was not a blueprint? This is why I think treating prophecies with contempt grieves the heart of God.

Matt said...

I guess in the broadest sense we are all apostles (small 'a'!), in that we are all sent by Christ, emissaries for Him to speak His gospel (Gr. apostolos). Good devotional thought there, folks: the main task of an apostle is to go and do stuff.

Are the Apostles usually referred to as 'the twelve'? Maybe this will clear up what we mean by Apostolic Signs. Or is that going off subject ...

Steve Sensenig said...

I've refrained from commenting on the last couple of posts with regard to the topic because I didn't want to somehow be misconstrued as "taunting" Phil again. But I've been trying to continue to read the discussions and follow the trains of thought. This discussion seems a bit like nailing down jello!! ;)

I'm still puzzled as to why none of us are really starting with what Scripture says and building on that foundation. I'm not talking about "proof-texting". But I'm talking about looking at the larger picture of what Scripture says. Phil emphasized that sola Scriptura never meant that you had to have a proof-text. I'm not sure, given that disclaimer, what it does mean then, unless by "proof-text", he means a single verse that is very clear.

To do justice to this topic, though, we need to ask a few questions from the texts that are available to us and work from there. Such as:

1) If prophecy does not exist in any form today, why did God choose to include all the instructions of 1 Corinthians without any clarification or footnote saying, "If you are reading this after AD 100, just skip over to chapter 15"? (Yes, I'm being a bit tongue-in-cheek there.) Now, I realize this gets into trying to guess the mind of God, and I'm not trying to presume that we can know the answer to this. But we can't just run right past passages that do give us instructions in these areas and deny they even apply without some basis for doing so.

2) If prophecy, even in the 1st century, was completely 100% perfect, then why did Paul tell the Corinthians to weigh the prophecies? What were they weighing to find out? I'm not arguing for or against 100% accurate prophecy. I'm certainly not arguing for 65% (or any %) accuracy rates as being ok!! But I'm saying that it's not a question of whether or not prophecy exists now or then. Even in a time when none of us argue that prophecy did exist, we have instructions with regard to how to handle it. False prophecy is not a reflection on prophecy. It is a reflection on the "prophet"!

3) Along the same lines, why did God tell the Israelites (Deut 18:20-22) that the burden of identifying true/false prophecies was on them? In this discussion, and in Phil's posts, we have identified some false prophets. Fine. That's good! Discernment is needed there. But God doesn't say that if a prophecy is false, then prophecy itself is gone. This is not strictly a NT principle of weighing prophecies. It's always been the case, as far as I can see from Scripture.

These are by no means the extent of the questions that could be asked, but they do drive us back to the text in order to build a foundation.

steve :)

Jacob Hantla said...

Phil. This was an excellent clarification post. I am going to be sitting on the sidelines watching your argument develop and try to stay out of the comments. The problem with this format is it's like you have 100 people interrupting to argue with you before you are finished saying what you are trying to say. Nevertheless, the interaction is beneficial and helpful. So keep comments on, keep blogging, and don't let the comments slow you down on getting to your point. But let us know when you've gotten there.

candyinsierras said...

djb..yes I did read the link and think it is a woefully inadequate analagy. Did you perhaps listen to the audio by Al Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, Mark Dever, and Ligon Duncan on my blog or Reformation Theology blog? A very balanced discussion without finger pointing.

Brad Meyer said...

Shouldn't all arguments on biblical interpretation begin and end with the Bible? How long should an argument take to include scriptural support?

Ray said...

Steve -- Good points; but I would like to address one thing... This is not concerning the points you brought up, those I will think on, but it is more towards the discussion of what does the WHOLE of Scripture say...

We get a number of texts which everyone wants to dissect, but it might be helpful to pull back and look at the subject from a more 'holistic' perspective (forgive my use of that word, it is the one that fits).

When do miraculous 'gifts' seem to appear? Throughout the Bible, the miraculous, especially when assigned to a specific person, is for validation.

Moses -- What was the purpose here? God was honoring His covenant with Israel. Bringing His people out of bondage, He used the gifts to validate Moses' ministry.

So, the first major 'gifted' individual was Moses.

Then we find Elijah and Elisha -- The era of the prophet. Why did God provide this? To again validate the men He had chosen. These men (the prophets) gave us much of the OT writings. This is not to say that NO ONE else in the OT ever prophesied or experienced miraculous giftings, but there were specific men whom God used in SPECIFIC ways, and the gifts were their confirmation.

There are those today who want to call themselves prophets, and these are the ones I am curious about.

Then we find much of the NT giftings occurring within the context of major developments -- I am not talking about Messiah Himself, but the others. So, in Acts 2 we amazing events -- Why? The gospel was being proclaimed and again God was validating His messengers through signs.

The same is true in the other oft-cited Acts events -- God was showing the people that the Holy Spirit was poured out on ALL people NOT simply on the Jews. This was a great mystery, and God again validated His people.

Now, my question (and I am NOT a cessationist, but definitely wrestling with this), is WHAT message is God validating today? This is where, to me, the crux of the question is.

Throughout the Bible we have found the miraculous used by God to validate the message and the messenger. So, how do we reconcile the continuing prophetic gifts with Hebrews 1:1,2:

"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world."

Don't get me wrong, I am not throwing down the gauntlet to disprove any of the discussion. I am asking for an honest, non-vitriolic answer to that question... WHAT does modern giftings validate?

My .02 on this -- This is where I believe that in the mission field where one has NOT heard of Messiah there can be miraculous events which validate the messenger, but these NEVER invalidate or change any portion of the Scripture.

However, the plethora of modern so-called prophets in the West are confusing to me -- Why do we need them? etc...

Sorry Phil, i ddin't mean to turn this into a prophet argument, but I have read a lot of these comments and I have not seen anyone actually state the purpose of the modern prophet outside of teh example that I posted...

Steve Sensenig said...

Ray, GREAT thoughts. I really appreciate the way in which you expressed them.

I'm with you on not being a cessationist, but wanting to wrestle through this in a healthy way, and change my position if necessary. I think that I recall Paul mentioning that we should be teachable, but I'm not positive if I'm correct on that. At any rate, I do try to be very teachable!

Defining prophecy is definitely a necessity, I think. My main question continues to go back to 1 Corinthians, especially chapter 14. Hebrews seems to imply that with Christ, God no longer spoke through the prophets. At first reading, I can't argue with that. But then, that conclusion would seem to me to make 1 Corinthians 14 completely unnecessary since Christ had already spoken. It also would make the book of Hebrews itself unnecessary. (Or, at best, not "scripture".) So I figure we must not be understanding the verse in Hebrews to which you refer to mean exactly what we think it means.

These are the kinds of things that a holistic interpretation must wrestle with, and I don't think we have the answer yet in this discussion! :)

Perhaps one possibility regarding Hebrews 1:1,2 is that it is not a statement regarding the end of prophets, but rather an emphasis on the supremecy of the Word (Christ) over those prophetic words. I dunno....your thoughts? Maybe I should move this over to my blog and we can interact more on it there, instead of running up Phil's bandwidth!!

steve :)

James Spurgeon said...

cameron wrote: Does that mean that today's prophets are inerrant or perfect? No. But neither were those in the early church.

They had better be in their prophetic utterances or they have demonstrated themselves to be false prophets and worthy of stoning according to Deuteronomy.

It amazes me the willingness we seem to have to tolerate what God calls blasphemous.

Steve said...

Chris hh said: "I have personally experienced God speaking to me many times. The clearest was when he told to to leave my first job and go to Bible College."

Chris, I believe your statement reveals part of the problem with our dialogue. Far as I can tell from Phil's blog, I believe the central issue is that of prophetic utterances as revelations from the Lord. A "prompting from the Lord upon your heart" is not the same thing, although there's much to be said about exercising discernment even with promptings, impressions, or whatever people want to call them.

My workload is a lot like Phil's, so I really don't have time to add any thoughts at this point. I'll interact as I can, and other cessationists who wish to add to my earlier comments can feel free to do so.

James Spurgeon said...

steve s. writes: I think that I recall Paul mentioning that we should be teachable, but I'm not positive if I'm correct on that.

That might have been in the epistle to Laodicea.

;)

Steve Sensenig said...

Must have been that pesky Laodicean letter -- you're right! ;)

Actually, I think I may have been confusing when Paul told Timothy that the Lord's servant should be "able to teach". I'm not sure how I got that mixed up in my mind, but I gave myself an easy out on it anyway! ;) hehe

Speaking of the letter to Laodicea -- if we DID find it, would it be canonized??? Maybe I shouldn't throw that out here. Relax folks, I'm not seriously asking that!

steve :)

Brad Meyer said...

James Spurgeon:
"They had better be in their prophetic utterances or they have demonstrated themselves to be false prophets and worthy of stoning according to Deuteronomy"

Here is the problem- a lack of acceptance of the New Covenant. Why did Christ not lead the adulterous woman directly to the authorities to be stoned?
Jhn 8:11 ...And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
If Christ did not facilitate her stoning, why do we still argue for stoning false prophets- i.e., insist on this 100% accuracy or death?
Why can we not accept that the New Covenant says to a false prophecy, "The old man gave false prophecy- that old man is put to death. The new man in Christ is made anew again. Go and sin no more."

donsands said...

Phil,
How much can one do in 24 hours? I have a bussiness, a family, a church, where I am an elder, and ny devoted time to the Lord, which is really hurting. I was just crying out to the Lord to help me prioritize, and I'm terrible at it. I suppose we all have different degrees of being able to cope with so many things in our lives, but I'm thinking I need to change mine a little.
Thought I'd share my burden, and ask for anyone to please pray for the Lord to help me. Thanks.

I do have quick story by R. C. Sproul Jr., who said, one time while at home someone called and asked for his dad, and said the Lord had put something on his heart to tell him. R. C. Jr. replied, "Why didn't the Lord tell you he was at the golf course." Good and valuable lesson to learn, me thinks. I have learn that way. It hurts, but you grow in your integrity for sure.
All for the Cross. Don

James Spurgeon said...

brad meyer asks: If Christ did not facilitate her stoning, why do we still argue for stoning false prophets- i.e., insist on this 100% accuracy or death?

1. The new covenant does not make adultery acceptable. Neither does it make less than 100% accuarcy acceptable. Christ did not destroy the law.

2. Christ tells the woman taken in adultery to "go and sin no more." By your analogy, all your inaccurate "prophets" should be told the same. Point is, their sin remains--that of presumption of the worst kind.

How dare they? Their sin is worse than that of the adulterous woman.

If your position on the new covenant is that the moral law has been abrogated, then you are an antinomian of the worst sort. I really don't think you have thought through this argument.

Brad Meyer said...

James Spurgeon:
You have completely sidestepped my question.
Let's try again. Why did He not do His part (as one witness) to grab ahold of another witness, and have her stoned?

Brad Meyer said...

correction- He was not a witness (as far as we know), but should have embraced two witnesses to have her stoned to fulfill the Law.

Brad Meyer said...

JS:
"Point is, their sin remains--that of presumption of the worst kind."- the sin of adultery does not remain?

"How dare they? Their sin is worse than that of the adulterous woman."- this anger sums up why we're having this ongoing discussion.

DJP said...

candy --

Without specifics, I'm pretty well forced to conclude that you just don't like the analogy. I'm sure a lot of folks won't like it, particularly those to whom it most closely applies. And I'll just counter-assert that it is quite appropos.

As to the discussion to which you link, I do want to listen to it, and thank you for the reminder. Just haven't had the leisure, yet.

James Spurgeon said...

ALL CAPS is shouting. Bold face type is to emphasize.

Brad, you are excusing sin. And not just any sin, sin of the worst kind, so bad in fact that the only justice for it under God's law was capital punishment.

Jesus did not put his stamp of approval on adultery, he merely forgave it. Presumption of the sort you are advocating can be forgiven, but it is not to be excused or tolerated.

How many other capital offenses should we Christians be excusing and tolerating?

James Spurgeon said...

Brad, let me put it to you this way. Would you celebrate a pastor who was faithful to his wife 65% of the time?

Brad Meyer said...

JS:
Once again, you refuse to answer my polite question, but change the subject...
Why did He not do His part to have her stoned?

Dan said...

As far as prophesies go, I agree that they must be 100% accurate. That standard still exists today for anyone that wants to claim to be a prophet.

That doesn't mean everything they say has to be 100% accurate, just those things that are "a Word from the Lord" better darn well be 100% accurate. God doesn't mumble.

Again, just taking propesies, since we are warned about false prophets in the end times and that we are to weigh prophesy against the Word of God, that would support modern "true" prophets.

That is, if we have to weigh what they say against Scripture, doesn't that mean whatever is consistent with Scripture is a true prophecy?

I realize that I'm engaging in extrapolation / extending of Scripture here, but we're all trying to read into what little instruction we have on this topic (specifically, "later-times" gifts / prophesy).

That being said, I will step up to the bar here and say that I am not even a tiny bit a cessationist, even though I haven't heard of confirmed examples of these gifts lately.

Of course, there were a lot of people who didn't hear of some lapsed Pharasee who was doing signs and wonders in some forgotten corner of the world a long time ago...

James Spurgeon said...

brad: JS:
Once again, you refuse to answer my polite question, but change the subject...
Why did He not do His part to have her stoned?


What part was he to have? You said yourself that he was not a witness. What was his part?

James Spurgeon said...

brad,

I think I may know your gift - incorrigibility.

Trust me. Mine is discernment.

:)

Ephemeral Mortal said...

BradMeyer said:
JS:
Once again, you refuse to answer my polite question, but change the subject...
Why did He not do His part to have her stoned?

Could it be that He was in a little while about to take the stoning for her?

Catez said...

Rusty,
I was gone when you said:
my post may have been the first to follow yours, but why did you assume I was referring to you?

There weren't many of us who had commented. If you spoke to people instead of about them it would clarify who you mean. I didn't take it to be only about me, but given the small number of people on the thread I did clarify that your comment definitely did not apply to me. I don't think it applied to anyone who had commented actually - it was a generalisation with no concrete example. So let's leave your assumption and be specific perhaps?

Catez said...

Rusty, Just to add, I did read this in Phil's post:
Feel free to keep commenting. So I find it strange that when there were less than 20 comments on the thread you were recommending turning comments off.

Brad Meyer said...

Since JS would not answer the question for obvious reasons, EphemeralMortal did... "Could it be that He was in a little while about to take the stoning for her?" Thank You.
Just as he took the stoning for false prophecy. So what of this Old Covenant 100% accuracy requirement for prophecy?

Rusty said...

catez -

You are correct that I was responding in general to the mass of comments on Phil's previous entry demanding exegesis, and proof-texts, and a more in-depth argument for Sola Scriptura etc.

What I was getting at was that people don't seem to have patience in this discussion. Everyone wants answers right NOW, and if they don't get them they're gonna throw a hissy fit. That's all. Don't need to read any more into it than that.

And no, I won't be any more specific than that =). I have no more desire than Phil does to engage in the dozens (maybe more?) of commenters who are overly demanding.

Thanks,
Rusty

Rusty said...

catez -

You said: "So I find it strange that when there were less than 20 comments on the thread you were recommending turning comments off."

As with Phil, I was referring to the previous entry ... the one with the ever-increasing comments =)

Jeremy Weaver said...

I want to comment to both sides, but I don't know where to start! Moorhead and company carry on a much easier to follow and friendlier discussion at his blog. And without the rabbit chasing.
What does the adulterous woman have to do with spiritual gifts?
Relevant texts please. It will make it easier for me to follow.

CuriousSaint said...

"Chris, I believe your statement reveals part of the problem with our dialogue. Far as I can tell from Phil's blog, I believe the central issue is that of prophetic utterances as revelations from the Lord. A "prompting from the Lord upon your heart" is not the same thing, although there's much to be said about exercising discernment even with promptings, impressions, or whatever people want to call them."

touche

Brad Meyer said...

If Christ himself did not clamor for death or even condemn the adulterous woman (suitable Old Covenant penalty for the 100% faithful requirement), why is it that we today are clamoring for the death penalty for false prophets?
Relevance: Those who want to throw the baby out with the bath water are saying that modern day prophets must be 100% accurate or they are a false prophet, in order to justify their cessationist argument.

Tom said...

Phil,

Boy you really stirred up the hornets nest now. I really get a kick out of the people who comment on your blogs. Sometimes I come in to just read your comments, not that the blog is bad, but sometimes not as entertaining as your commenter’s. I find it most interesting that some of the commenter’s appear to have there own agenda and appear to not really care about your explanation, nor the direction you are taking with YOUR (caps used for emphasis) blog.

Hey keep up the good work and continue the stretching of our faith.

Catez said...

Hi Chris HH,
In response:Well said, Cameron! You are a brave man, and put the case well. It is also great to see it has provoked some sensible dialogue too.

The points he makes are perfectly valid.


The points he made are not valid at all. He has said Agabus tried to persuade Paul not to go to Jerusalem. Not valid.
He has said that Paul confronting Peter is an example of fallibility in gifts of the Holy Spirit. Not valid.
He has referred to a letter not in the bible as being both an example of fallibility and infallibility. Not valid (and not even relevant). It's nice you want to encourage a brother but not if you encourage such misapplication of scripture.


The Lord spoke through fallible human beings then, so there is no difference to the fallible means of communication he uses now.

This is confusing human error with the operation of the Holy Spirit. It's like reducing the properties of oil to the properties of the container it flows through. They are two different things. Most importantly - you give no scriptural example of fallibility in the use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. You are simply saying humans are fallible and so therefore when God moved miraculously through them he was reduced to being fallible. That's not even scriptural - it's contrary to scripture. Rather than saying that God is above man and superior to man you now say he is diluted by man - you say humans are fallible so that makes God fallible (read your sentence again - there is no difference to the fallible means of communication he uses now.. You've just said that God communicates fallibly - where in scripture do you find this?

Even the authors of the infallible word were at other times fallible, so the continuance of apostles and prophets does not necessitate an open canon.

That point pretty much folds in on itself. You are mixing two different things together as if mere association causes a connection. 1. The word of God is infallible. Corect. 2. The authors were at other times, when not delivering the word of God, fallible. Correct - if you are simply referring to human error and not the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. This doesn't show anything except to re-iterate that when God spoke his word was infallible. You've not shown anything here that proves that when God spoke there was fallibility and this is thus a standard we should accept today.

The point he makes about Agabus is also valid. Lets examine what he said:

This isn't the point Cameron made. You are trying to make a completely different point from the same text.

Two things are clear. First, this was obviously a genuine prophecy that was fulfilled.

Agreed.

Second, in one minor detail, it was not 100% correct. It was not the Jews who bound Paul, though they did cause him to be bound.

That's a matter of inerpretation. The Romans bound him at the Jews instigation. I would say it is correct in terms of a scriptural understanding of responsibility - in the same way that Jesus was delivered to the Romans by some of the Jews. Scripturally we do not find that God's word is that only the Romans were responsible. I think you are playing semantics with a clear and infallible prophecy.

When God communicates to a prophet it is not a dictation. The prophet must still put into words what he has received. Rather like an artist must use the canvas and paints to convey what he sees. No picture will ever be 100% accurate, but that does not lessen it's merit.

This is just your personal picture analogy. What does your idea of how people paint have to do with a scriptural basis for claiming that there was not infallibility in the use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit? It's not relevant.

In the same way Paul says - we can all prophesy.

In the same way as what? You've just put forward an extremely subjective and personal picture with no scriptural basis and then said Paul's advice in the scriptures is the same as your highly personalised non-scriptural view. Look at it Chris - you've just given us aomething that is purely your opinion and scripturally unsubstantiated and now you ask that we line scripture up with your opinion.

The fact that such prophecies may contain aspects of the prophet rather than the Lord, should not alarm us.

And where in the bible does it say this? We should be very alarmed. Where in the bible does it say that a prophet can mix in his own opinion, agenda, and error with something that is suposed to be the word of God Himself? Because you have a story about human artists and how they paint? I do expect something better when we are discussing the infallibility of the Sovereign Lord.

God has always communicated this way.

Do you see what you have done here. You've moved from trying to say that the use of the gifts was fallible into saying that God himself is - that he has always communicated fallibly. But yet we know his word is infallible - so perhaps now you are saying that God is hindered by human beings and only gets his message through correctly maybe 60% of the time. This is nonsensical - God has not always communicated fallibly.

Even the infallible word carries the hallmarks of the style and characteristics of the authors who penned it as well as the Lord who inspired it.

But you've just agred that the word is infallible - so you are contradicting yourself here - this doesn't make sense Chris. You say the word of God is infallible but because the style of the author is evident that is supposed to make it fallible at the same time? It's not even logical to say that.

Nor does prophecy undermine the authority of scripture. In fact the authority of scripture demands that we respect it and do not treat it with contempt.

I think you would do well to meditate on your last sentence there.

DJP said...

doxoblogist --

You have to have some sympathy for the position he's trying to prop up.

On the one hand, you have a Biblical phenomenon that is clearly, emphatically, and repeatedly described and defined (Exodus 4:15-16 compared with 7:1; Deuteronomy 18:18-22).

One the other hand, these folks have their little passtimes they're fond of, which bear no resemblance to the well-defined Biblical phenomenon, and have no Biblical authority.

But they seemingly just can't conceive of parting with them... so they have to talk about something. Plus, they have to find some way of turning what God says is a life-and-death issue into "no biggie."

Catez said...

Hi Rusty,
Thanks for more specifically clarifying your comment. I appreciate it.

Char said...

not to cast my lot in with the high-jackers, but...
The whole stoning thing: I believe that the rules regarding stoning still apply, in a modified way (bear with me as I get weird). "Handing over to Satan" is our stoning-turning a person in to a spiritually dead world to face judgement. Paul even quotes Deuteronomy's rationale for stoning when he discusses this-'purge the evil from among you'. So while we would not physically stone false prophets, we should purge them from the community so they can not do further harm. Where ever you stand on prophesy, you gotta admit the false ones are sinful and presumptuous.

Sorry I love the rabbit-trails...

I have to admit this whole debate is not a major issue for me, so I haven't got much relevant to weigh in with. Still I am finding it interesting reading! Remember to play nice...

Char said...

Oh my, 50 people posted as I was writing that! Should've posted before I went off to make supper...

Catez said...

Brad,
re: your comment

If Christ himself did not clamor for death or even condemn the adulterous woman (suitable Old Covenant penalty for the 100% faithful requirement), why is it that we today are clamoring for the death penalty for false prophets?

I haven't seen anyone clamouring for the death penalty for false prophets. I think you've chosen a passage of scripture that is in a very different context to scripture that apllies to the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. But I'll look at it.

1. Jesus is God
2. Jesus has the power to forgive sin
3. Jesus does not condone sin
4. Repentance of sin is necessary.

The woman in adultery sinned. In answer to your previous question, why did Jesus not do his part? - the answer is Jesus did do his part. He did not condone her sin - he forgave it. He also expected repentance - that she would go and sin no more. Now - until this time there was no-one who could do this - and there is still no-one who has the power to forgive sin except Jesus. Jesus is not required to follow the letter of the law like some mere mortal, he is the Spirit of the law.

How does this apply to the miraculous use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit?

1. It does not prove fallibility - unless you are trying to claim that Jesus was fallible because he had the spirit of the law being God Himself and didn't follow the letter. That would be akin to saying Jesus sinned - which he did not.

2. The only connection is that Jesus can forgive sin and expects that the sin does not continue.

If a person claims to speak the word of God they must be 100% infallible in that word. That is a scriptual standard. Using the connection with the woman in adultery passage what would we conclude? That if they are obviously not adhering to the scriptual standard they can be forgiven and they should not keep repeating and excusing the error. We do not, as Paul aptly pointed out in his epistle, continue in sin that grace may come.

You said:

Relevance: Those who want to throw the baby out with the bath water are saying that modern day prophets must be 100% accurate or they are a false prophet, in order to justify their cessationist argument.

That doesn't make sense.
1. Show an example from scripture where a prophet was not rquired to be 100% accurate.
2. Show an example from scripture where a person is given God's permission to continue in a sin and where God condones it.
3. Show an example from scripture where it is not required that sin be repented of.

Yes, Jesus forgives sin - but no, that doesn't add up at all as an excuse to continue in behaviour that is out of line with His standards and damaging to His church.

BTW - none of what I have said here is an argument for cessationism as such - it's an argument for scriptural standards. So start there if you are serious, with what scripture says.
Scripture is God's word and he doesn't contradict himself. if you take a passage that doesn't really have the same context then at least look at the principles.

I think Char made an interesting point too.

vegemitechristian said...

I am trying to be a cessationist when it comes to sin (1 Peter 4:1,2), but all too often I look like a continuationist!

I am trying to be a continuationist when it comes to using spiritual gifts (1 Peter 4:10), but all too often I look like a cessationist!

:-P

Kyle said...

(cameron) The authors of Scripture were inerrantly, 100% inspired only while writing the Scriptures. At other times, they were susceptible to mistakes, as all human beings are.

This simply isn't true. For but one example, Peter's Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:14–36) was 100% inerrant and inspired, but he never wrote it down—Luke did! Rather, whenever they did anything under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they were infallible.

(chris hh) Two things are clear. First, this was obviously a genuine prophecy that was fulfilled. Second, in one minor detail, it was not 100% correct. It was not the Jews who bound Paul, though they did cause him to be bound.

It was a genuine prophecy that was 100% correct and 100% fulfilled. There was not a word which Agabus spoke that was the least bit fallible or unispired when he spoke the word of prophecy. Unless perhaps you'd also care to argue that the prophecy of Christ's silence (Isa. 53:7, cf. Acts 8:32–35) was fallible because Christ did not remain utterly and completely silent during His trial (John 18:19–24, 33–38; 19:8–12)? I have seen unbelievers argue just that!

(chris hh) When God communicates to a prophet it is not a dictation. The prophet must still put into words what he has received. Rather like an artist must use the canvas and paints to convey what he sees. No picture will ever be 100% accurate, but that does not lessen it's merit.

And where do you get this understanding of how prophecy works?

(brad meyer) Those who want to throw the baby out with the bath water are saying that modern day prophets must be 100% accurate or they are a false prophet, in order to justify their cessationist argument.

And what does the adulterous woman have to do with it? Your argument is disanalogous. No one is seriously suggesting that we go out and literally stone false prophets. IF they were, this would be a relevant passage to consult. (Although still problematic; the Pharisees were not actually abiding by the law in looking to stone the woman only, and if Jesus had agreed to have her stoned, He would have been complicit in their lawbreaking; furthermore, "the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" (Mark 2:10).) But because Jesus didn't stone an adulteress, a prophet doesn't have to give 100% correct prophecies in order to be considered a true prophet? What does the one have to do with other? Unless you think that a wife is not an adulteress even if she is not 100% faithful to her husband?

Brad Meyer said...

djh,
follow me here folks- I'll go slow.

Whenever someone wants to make the argument that anyone who has had an adulterous affair never was truly married or is incapable of being faithful or married in the future, I'll by the argument that a prophet who has given false prophecy was not truly a prophet or is incapable of prophecying accurately.
Both carry the death penalty- both have the expectation of 100% accuracy.

James H said...

Brad, I think the issue is not as simple as comparing a false prophet to an adulterer. An adulterer sins against God and his/her spouse while a prophet has the responsibility of being God's mouthpiece. Do you truly believe that if someone's prophecies do not come true that we should still consider that person a true prophet of God?

Brad Meyer said...

james h,
if your wife cheats on you, but repents and comes back to you, are you really supposed to consider her your wife?

Brad Meyer said...

So enough sidetracking the issue, but if you want to argue for cessationism, find another horse to ride than the 100% accuracy or death mantra- it ain't flyin'.

DJP said...

Brad, irrelevant nonsense typed slow is still nonsense.

I just come from a different school of thought than Roman Catholics and Charismatics, I guess. If a tradition doesn't measure up to the Bible, drop it. Don't try to twist the Bible to fit.

So when I saw that what I thought was tongues didn't measure up to what the Bible says about tongues, I dropped them. I didn't try to clinton-down the Bible to fit something it was never meant to.

(And what's so hard about spelling d-j-p?)

Brad Meyer said...

d-j-p,
Absolutely nothing substantive or biblical in what you said- just bitterness.

BugBlaster said...

Question for anybody with the answer: Is there any scriptural indication that the N.T. predictive prophecies and prophets were only sometimes right?

If so, that would be useful information.

If not, then sometimes-right prophecy is novel; something that was added to the faith later.

If not, then why should we have any interest in hit-or-miss prophecies?
What would be their purpose?

If not, then very respectfully the mantra should be "100% accuracy or pointless"

DJP said...

brad

LOL -- you do know that other people can read my posts, and follow the links, right?

bugblaster

You're absolutely right. Even more: earlier, I cited Exodus 4:15-16 compared with 7:1; Deuteronomy 18:18-22. These actually flat-out define prophecy. For the wanna-be's to have a point, they'd have to produce a NT equivalent of mark 7:19b, or Galatians 6:15, rescinding the long-established, univocal Biblical definition.

Brad Meyer said...

Just want to understand your position here.
The blood of Christ will wash away any sin restoring one from anything but false prophecy? ie. False prophecy is the unpardonable sin from which a believer can not be restored?
Or the dozens of NT references to prophecy and its proper place are all referring to the apostolic age?
hmmm... how convenient...

Brad Meyer said...

dip,
your two references DO make the point that the old covenant is gone- the new is here. Thanks for the help in clarifying my point.

Scott Hill said...

Phil, do you have any scripture to back up your claim that we don't need any proof text.

Brad Meyer said...

Scott "Fide-O",
One of the funniest things in print!

Scott Hill said...

Brad, maybe I missed it because of the subtlety but I don't remember Phil making an argument on biblical interpretation in today's post or yesterday's post.

Brad Meyer said...

Scott "Fide-O",
Darn good point- still waiting on that aren't we- never really been accused of jumping the gun after 8 weeks... but you'd better be sure when he gets around to providing that unnecessary scripture to back his point...

Jacob Lee said...

Thank you Phil for your excellent blog! I read it nearly everyday (since its beginning) and have profited a great deal from it. Keep up the good work. I especially like your Spurgeon material.

Since this is my first post let me briefly introduce myself. I am a Continuationist in the mold of Sovereign Grace Ministries, reformed and mildly charismatic. I have a few thoughts which take a different path from most of your commenters.

First, I believe it is fair to say both sides agree the gifts were in active use in the early church (1 Corinthians 1:7).

Second, the early Christians were exhorted to use them, e.g. “having different gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…” Romans 12:3-9 “’Pursue love and earnestly desire spiritual gifts…” (I Corinthians 14:1). These exhortations are explicit. I have a problem accepting they are only for the Roman and Corinthian Christians and not for us as well. It seems to be an unhealthy precedent to eliminate these exhortations from today’s church.

Third, these gifts were given for the “common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7) for the building up (1 Corinthians 14:12) of the local church. Our churches today are still in dire need of this building up!

Fourth, the context of gift use was in the analogy of the physical body (1Corinthians 12:27-31; Romans 12:3-8). Each part has its function and is necessary for the body to work properly. Cessationism, at least from my understanding of its position, would, in effect, say we do not need all our body parts for us to be healthy.

What I think is needed, which I believe you are addressing (Please forgive me if my assumption is wrong), is “What is the proper use of the gifts today?” I look forward to your further elucidation! Thank You.

In His Grip,
Jacob Lee

Gummby said...

Brad Meyer says: Why can we not accept that the New Covenant says to a false prophecy, "The old man gave false prophecy- that old man is put to death. The new man in Christ is made anew again. Go and sin no more."

Brad has requested Scripture, so here it is, along with a question I'd love to see answered.
"And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 19-21, ESV).

Brad--where does this verse say prophecy comes from? From fallible man, or infallible God? The Scripture says that prophecy comes from God, not man. If that's true (and I think it is) then there's only two conclusions about inaccurate prophecy: either God was wrong, or the prophecy wasn't from God. And if a person proclaims a prophecy is from God and it's not from God, why would you follow him?

Brad Meyer said...

Matt,
Your statement says nothing not already agreed to.

Gummby said...

Your statement says nothing not already agreed to.

Brad--If that's true, then why are you still defending 65% accuracy as being part of the New Covenant?

dcostales said...

Hey Mr. Johnson,

Okay. Thank you.

Kyle said...

(brad meyer) Whenever someone wants to make the argument that anyone who has had an adulterous affair never was truly married or is incapable of being faithful or married in the future, I'll by the argument that a prophet who has given false prophecy was not truly a prophet or is incapable of prophecying accurately.
Both carry the death penalty- both have the expectation of 100% accuracy.


Again, disanalogous. A wife may be both a wife and an adulteress, but she cannot be both a faithful wife and an unfaithful wife. A prophet cannot be both a true prophet and a false prophet at once, most especially since a prophet is validated by the truth of the prophecies he makes! If he says, "Thus saith the Lord," each word under that heading must be 100% inspired and infallible, or else he is a false prophet by virtue of delivering false prophecy. We have a serious problem if God Himself is not capable of directly conveying infallible truth without getting it mixed in error.

(brad meyer) Just want to understand your position here.
The blood of Christ will wash away any sin restoring one from anything but false prophecy? ie. False prophecy is the unpardonable sin from which a believer can not be restored?


No one has said that. But that even a false prophet can be redeemed does not entail that he will be made a true prophet, nor especially does it entail that true prophecy may be admixed with false prophecy!

Catez said...

Scott,
Brad, maybe I missed it because of the subtlety but I don't remember Phil making an argument on biblical interpretation in today's post or yesterday's post.

No he didn't really, although he did mention a verse as part of a point he made. I haven't seen anyone disagree with Phil's point that no-one claims the miraculous gifts are shown infallibly in operation today. However if you read the discussion some people are instead trying to claim that biblical prophecy was/is not infallible. Therefore it makes sense to ask some-one to scripturally support those assertions - since they are taking the basis on which Phil's point rests - scriptural infallibility.

Unless you were saying that we shouldn't want a scriptural basis in ongoing discussion we are having between ourselves... but that would leave all assertions to subjective whim I would think. Not an ideal way of coming to a conclusion.

Mike Garner said...

For but one example, Peter's Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:14–36) was 100% inerrant and inspired,

This isn't exactly related, but I would probably disagree with you. I don't know how you know his Speech was inspired (in the God-breathed sense) or inerrant. His entire speech was not recorded (as almost everyone agrees upon). It is possible that it had an error in it somewhere (just as John MacArthur might err at some point this sunday). There is no reason to demand the entire speech be God-breathed or inerrant. In fact, the bible often records what people say even if it is not accurate. I am not suggesting that Peter was erring here, but I am suggesting that we need not hold to the belief that his sermon was inerrant or God-breathed.


In Christ alone,
mike

Cameron said...

Well said Mike.

The point isn't that Peter was bad or was necessarily making mistakes in this sermon, but that as a fallible human being he was capable of making mistakes, as all men were and are.

God's prophetic Word is perfect, but He delievers it through fallible human beings. In the Scriptures alone do we have 100% accuracy guaranteed.

I am not trying to defend "65% prophets" but rather pointing out that the same God who empowered Peter, Paul, and the other apostles is the very same God who can empower us in the same way today.

Kyle said...

This isn't exactly related, but I would probably disagree with you. I don't know how you know his Speech was inspired (in the God-breathed sense) or inerrant.

Seems pretty self-evident to me.

His entire speech was not recorded (as almost everyone agrees upon).

I'd be interested in seeing the evidence for this assertion.

It is possible that it had an error in it somewhere (just as John MacArthur might err at some point this sunday).

MarArthur is not now nor has ever been one of the Twelve, nor has he ever spoken a single word under the inspiration of the Spirit. He is never infallible.

Kyle said...

God's prophetic Word is perfect, but He delievers it through fallible human beings. In the Scriptures alone do we have 100% accuracy guaranteed.

A great deal of Scripture is simply prophetic utterances written down. Somehow you think it's possible for a prophecy from God to be spoken and be fallible by virtue of its human vessel, but in the case of writing Scripture it's infallible despite the human vessel that wrote it down? The infallible nature of prophecy from God doesn't change depending on whether it is spoken or written down. There is simply not a single case in Scripture of a fallible-yet-true prophecy! What the Lord saith, He meaneth! He doesn't tell His prophets to decipher impressions He gives them and communicate them as best they can to others (a la "chris hh"): He inspires their very communication. To say that their inspired communication is fallible is ultimately to charge the inspiring Spirit with fallibility.

I am not trying to defend "65% prophets" but rather pointing out that the same God who empowered Peter, Paul, and the other apostles is the very same God who can empower us in the same way today.

Well, He can always empower us to write new scripture, can't He? After all, He never changes.

Brad Meyer said...

kyle,
Why is it that you believe humans are incapable of doing anything inspired/inerrant? Where on God's earth did this idea come from that the Twelve were/are elevated to some pseudo-Messianic position? Why is it that the Twelve were capable of acting under the Holy Spirit (in His perfection), but you and I are not? Because the canon closes, does not necessitate that the perfection of the Holy Spirit has been hindered. This apparently is the hinge of the cessationist's pitiful argument- literally.

Catez said...

Brad,

if your wife cheats on you, but repents and comes back to you, are you really supposed to consider her your wife?

Analogies always break down at sone point by virtue of the fact they are only analogies. The problem with yours is the presupposition you've made:
true prophet=faithful wife
false prophet=adulterous wife

Problem: I can't find any example in the bible of a true prophet who gave false prophecies, repented, and started giving true prophecies. I can find examples of true prophets who gave true prophecies, and false prophets who gave false prophecies.

In short - using your analogy, the false prophets weren't "married" in the first place. To spell it out - you assume that these people return to being true prophets. On what basis? Sorry - I can't find any examples.

I am wondering if you want to honestly discuss this. Given the amount of scripture that directly relates to the subject of prophecy and miraculous signs and gifts you seem to keep harping on a passage which is really about repentance, forgiveness and is a picture of a conversion opportunity - from darkness to light. As I said above - it falls down as an analogy with prophets.

The point about forgiveness has been addressed by more than one person. You do seem to be confusing forgiveness with correction, and are presupposing that because some-one makes false prophecies they must be a true prophet who needs to be "restored". Yet what I find in the bible are examples of false prophets who were never true prophets and the admonition is that they must cease giving false prophecy.

So sorry, but no, your analogy with the adulterous woman breaks down in so many places it has become fatuous.

Matt said...

104 comments? (105 with this one.) (Or more, possibly, by the time this is posted; unless all the Americans have gone to bed in which case this is the domain of the Brits, the French, Germans, Zimbabweans, Nigerians, Egyptians, Israelis, Indians, Chinese and all other English-speaking peoples ;) WINKS!) I must say Mr. Johnson seems to be stirring up quite a storm in the Christo-blogging community.

It reminds me of a time at the youth meeting at the Met Tab in London (my church) - we were playing football with the lads (all 12-14 years old), and a foul was committed. Immediately two lads were up in arms at each other, shouting and yelling (that's not you guys - bear with me).

I stopped the game, took up the ball, and both teams crowded round me shouting and yelling to get their point across. For five minutes I didn't say a word, and by the end of the five minutes they had somehow managed to decide between themselves what my response had been and had wandered off complaining about how unfair I was.

All without me saying a thing :)

That's not really you guys either, but it's a good story. I for one am happy to wait and see what Phil has to say without trying to prompt him into saying anything. If the man has an opinion, let him state it!

But I know how much fun you're having, so don't let my English reserve spoii anything. Carry right on :)

Catez said...

Hi Mike,

This isn't exactly related, but I would probably disagree with you. I don't know how you know his Speech was inspired (in the God-breathed sense) or inerrant.

Well I agree it's not related if we are speculating about things not in the biblical account. Those things that are in the biblical account are part of God's word. Seems to me it follows his speech was recorded because it is, therefore, God's word.

His entire speech was not recorded (as almost everyone agrees upon). It is possible that it had an error in it somewhere (just as John MacArthur might err at some point this sunday).

Kyle answered this in part. But do we assess biblical prophecy on the basis of speculation that there might have been an unrecorded error, when we find throughout scripture that when God spoke by his Spirit prophetically there was not error?

There is no reason to demand the entire speech be God-breathed or inerrant. In fact, the bible often records what people say even if it is not accurate.

When it does it is not saying the inaccuracy is divinely inspired utterance though. The distinction is clear.

I am not suggesting that Peter was erring here, but I am suggesting that we need not hold to the belief that his sermon was inerrant or God-breathed.

I disagree. The bible does not tell me Peter also said some inerrant things in his sermon - thus I can't add to the bible what is not there. I see what you are saying but it is speculative at best.

Hi Cameron,

The point isn't that Peter was bad or was necessarily making mistakes in this sermon, but that as a fallible human being he was capable of making mistakes, as all men were and are.

The point is that there is not an example of Peter being fallible in prophecy or use of the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. You are simply speculating and once again confusing human error in other matters with the infallibility of the miraculous operation of the Holy Spirit.

God's prophetic Word is perfect, but He delievers it through fallible human beings.

Which we've already discussed. What is your point? That God's perfect Holy Spirit becomes less than perfect when expressed prophetically - that he somehow taints himself? Scriptural example?

In the Scriptures alone do we have 100% accuracy guaranteed.

Agreed. And what is the criteria in the 100% accurate scriptures for prophecy? It is that a prophet must be 100% accurate - not partly true and partly false. If you seriously believe the scriptures are 100% accurate why are you not looking at that standard instead of speculating about things Scripture doesn't even say?

I am not trying to defend "65% prophets" but rather pointing out that the same God who empowered Peter, Paul, and the other apostles is the very same God who can empower us in the same way today.

Which really brings it back to what Phil said in his post doesn't it? What example today is there of some-one empowered in the exact same way as Peter, Paul, and the other apostles? Who is infallibly operating in the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit? There is general agreement that no-one is. This is still a poor argument. You want to dispense with what scripture does say and show about infalliblity, insert what it doesn't say, and then extrapolate that into some general free for all with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Once again you are arguing for a mixture of imperfection and perfection at the same time in the operation of the Holy Spirit. That's nonsensical (I mean that technically). God's inspired word cannot be infallible and fallible at the same time. The biblical example is infallibilty.

As I said to you before - of course humans are sinners. The scriptural example is not that this makes God's inspired and miraculous gifts tainted by fallibility. That is why they are miraculous - because they are infallible.

Catez said...

Matt and Cameron

Hi Matt,
Of all the fallible errors in the discussion the most grievous is the omission of NZ from your list of countries. You need to tuck into some vegemite on toast while listening to Crowded House. Follow that with back to back screening of the 3 LOR movies and then go see Narnia. There's hope yet.

Cameron,
I will spell it out as I'm not sure whether you simply don't understand what is meant when people refer to infallibility or whether you are deliberately avoiding the scriptural example.

When saying that a prophecy or other miraculous operation of the Holy Spirit through a person is infallible it is not saying that everything that the person ever said or did in their life was also infallible.

The miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit were expressed infallibly.
The Holy Spirit is infallible.
The human person is not infallible.

Please get the distinction - God has expressed Himself infallibly through human beings who are fallible.

So far you have tried to argue unsuccessfully that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit were expressed fallibly in the Bible (this would make the bible itself fallible) or have scratched around for examples that are just imaginative speculations outside of the bible.

I'll say it again - the biblical example is that the miraculous operation of the Holy Spirit was expressed infallibly.

This does not make the vessel, the person, infallible in everything else they do and say.

Neither does this mean that the Holy Spirit becomes fallible or somehow tainted.

Check your bible.

Glenn said...

Interesting debate. I must admit I haven't read every single comment. However, I would like to suggest that this is not really a debate about theology.

Theology is about God. I don't think anyone here is suggesting God has actually changed. So, interesting though it is, does it really matter?

God can do whatever he deems appropriate, we just need to be trusting in him to help us do his will.

God can and will do whatever he deems best. This will likely be different from one time period to the next and also one country to the next and one individual to the next.

It is not so much a question of Theology. God doesn't change. Whether He chooses to act in the same way now is His perogative and is not bound by any other limitation.

John Haller said...

Deposing the Pyromaniac? The thought of that makes this lawyer's heart flutter.

Matt said...

Catez,

Point taken :) I wonder just what Phil thinks of all of us?

Can I just point out that we may need to have working definitions of those things which are getting seriously mixed up here, ie. miraculous gifts, new revelation, and God's guidance in our lives.

Roll on post 150.

Also may I extol charity as being far greater than any gifts or works that we may desire.

lionfood said...

This could be dangerous:

The kneejerk demand for "exegesis" at the very start of the [PLACE SUBJECT HERE] discussion is fatuous.

donsands said...

Can one who believes the gifts have ceased erve with one who believes they have not?

I say some will be able to and others won't. And that's alright, as long as we love one another for the cause of the gospel of grace.

It's good to debate. It's great to challenge one another, for this will help us grow in His grace, and thereby bring honor and glory to our Savior.

After listening to all the good thoughts on this matter I am not sure where I am completely. I may never nail it down, but I do see that all who have shared on this blog have the common ground of Scripture being our final authority, and that is well pleasing to our Lord, don't you think.
Hoprfully all this will encourage us in our fath, so that when opportunities arise to share the gosepl, and even live the gospel out in our lives, we will do it with humility and fear.

Surveying the wondross Cross, and pouring contempt on all my pride, Don

Gavin said...

I am a "cessationist"

However I believe that the greatest "Gift" of the Holy Spirit is still available today.

That is the Holy Spirits work in regeneration and sanctification.

The Holy Spirits work in changing a person who was once immoral,impure, sensual, an idolator, involved in sorcery,
full of emity, strife, jealousy, anger and drunkeness and other sins beside into a Godly person full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfullness, gentleness and self control.

This "Gift" is a million times greather than all the "Charismatic" gifts put together.


God also works miracles today by answer of prayer. Even curing someone of cancer if He chooses to do so. God has not ceased answering prayers.

--

I agree with Matt. I would rather have the Holy Spirit change me and make me a very charitable person than to have any other gift.


(my 2 cents worth) – Gavin.

Ephraim said...

Act 2:40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation!"

Anybody have a copy of those "many other words"?

hmm.....

critic said...

If the comments just interacted with Phil's post then the comments might be worth reading, but so many rabbits were chased, and so many personal comments were made that the comments do not add to understanding or interacting with Phil's posts. Turn the comments off, Phil, then we can just appreciate your posts without all of the excess.
Cheers.

Libbie said...

Critic,

That is a good suggestion. There are enough argument threads here to make an argument sweater.

Steve said...

Very clever, Libbie.

Denise said...

If the Bible isn't the sole authority on doctrinal and practicle matters, then anything's up for grabs, and anyone can say "Thus saith the Lord" and "Jesus stood two feet behind me and to my left when I was converted" or "Jesus came to me while I was sleeping."

The thing is, people claim all sorts of things and we are called to test all of them by Scripture (1John 4:1; Acts 17:11 just as examples)which would seem to mean that the answer is indeed in the Bible.

James Spurgeon said...

To critic:

Or you could just disable that compulsory software you have on your browser which obviously forces you to read every comment made.

Jerry Wragg said...

Libby -
Don't you mean "argument jumper"?

Jerry Wragg said...

Sorry Libbie(sp)...I shouldn't have assumed the "y" in your name.

My bad!

critic said...

Thanks for making my point JS...8^)

DJP said...

James Spurgeon --

Well-put. SO much better than anything I was thinking of sputtering. Love the light touch.

(c;

danny2 said...

i've read your last few posts, but not the comments (who has time for that).

i'm totally confused.

not by your posts, but by the fact others could struggle with it. what's controversial? again, wouldn't grudem agree with your position to this point?

keep posting with clarity!

Steve Mason said...

Greetings to all you bloggers. Peace and Grace be with you.
Phil, all these blogs and you have not really got started.
God bless and after reading several of the blogs, you will get blogged out.
Steve

Kyle said...

(brad meyer) Why is it that you believe humans are incapable of doing anything inspired/inerrant? Where on God's earth did this idea come from that the Twelve were/are elevated to some pseudo-Messianic position?

You're the one defending half-true prophecy. And "Pseudo-Messianic"? I don't think anyone has even implied anything like that. But the Apostles did hold a uniquely authoritative office in the church. Do you deny that?

(brad meyer) Why is it that the Twelve were capable of acting under the Holy Spirit (in His perfection), but you and I are not?

Why is it that some were capable of composing Holy Scripture, but you and I are not?

(brad meyer) Because the canon closes, does not necessitate that the perfection of the Holy Spirit has been hindered. This apparently is the hinge of the cessationist's pitiful argument- literally.

And you've produced a straw-man. That's not the cessationist argument at all. It is, however, a variation of a common charistmatic theme: cessationists just don't believe the Spirit intervenes any longer. It's a load of crock.

Catez said...

Anybody have a copy of those "many other words"?

I imagine they are in the Letter to the Laodiceans.


I'm not sure on this but I've heard that some of Isaiah's breakfast table conversations are in the Book of Hezekiah too.

If anyone thinks they really need them.

Brad Meyer said...

kyle,
"You're the one defending half-true prophecy"- lie #1. I'm defending true prophecy when it's true and ignoring false prophecy when it's false. Of course if someone gives false prophecy, one has a responsibility to consider the source. But do not be so arrogant as to deny the power of the blood of Christ to redeem someone from anything! End of issue.
"Why is it that some {the apostles} were capable of composing Holy Scripture, but you and I are not?"- this is foolish through and through- THEY did not "compose" Holy Scripture. You've stepped into it AGAIN.

The more you post, the better our argument looks. Thanks.

Brad Meyer said...

kyle:
"cessationists just don't believe the Spirit intervenes any longer. It's a load of crock. "- when does the cessationist believe the Spirit intervenes? Honestly. From what I can make of it, only when a person is reading the Scripture. What happens when I put my bible down and walk away from it? Does the Spirit intervene any time away from my bible? When? How?

Kyle said...

(brad meyer) "You're the one defending half-true prophecy"- lie #1. I'm defending true prophecy when it's true and ignoring false prophecy when it's false.

You're defending half-true prophecy. You'll accept 1% of a prophecy as true even if 99% of it is false, and so you'll consider the prophet "genuine." And your reason for doing so is that Christ has already paid the penalty so the "prophet" is not required to be 100% accurate. This is the argument you've set forth in its basic logical constituents. If it is not what you intended, correct yourself.

(brad meyer) But do not be so arrogant as to deny the power of the blood of Christ to redeem someone from anything! End of issue.

Now you're putting words in my mouth. I have never once denied that the blood of Christ redeems from all manner of sin. What I HAVE denied is that there is any such thing as a true-but-less-that-100%-accurate prophecy.

"Why is it that some {the apostles} were capable of composing Holy Scripture, but you and I are not?"- this is foolish through and through- THEY did not "compose" Holy Scripture. You've stepped into it AGAIN.

Yes, these folks did "compose" Scripture—by the inspiration of the Spirit. So, if you're going to ask me why we are not capable of "acting under the Holy Spirit (in His perfection)," whereas the apostles most certainly were, you have to account first of all for the closed canon.

Kyle said...

(brad meyer) when does the cessationist believe the Spirit intervenes? Honestly. From what I can make of it, only when a person is reading the Scripture. What happens when I put my bible down and walk away from it? Does the Spirit intervene any time away from my bible? When? How?

For example, when someone is healed, against all odds, in response to faithful prayer. Or, when a true witness to Christ is brought into the life of a lost sheep. Etc.

Brad Meyer said...

Brad:
When does the cessationist believe the Spirit intervenes?
kyle:
When someone is healed against all odds, in response to faithful prayer"

Cessationists believe in modern day healing? Why this but not the other gifts?

Brad Meyer said...

Kyle,
Please juxtapose these two responses you've made:
1)(brad meyer) Because the canon closes, does not necessitate that the perfection of the Holy Spirit has been hindered. This apparently is the hinge of the cessationist's pitiful argument- literally.

(kyle) And you've produced a straw-man. That's not the cessationist argument at all.

2)(kyle) if you're going to ask me why we are not capable of "acting under the Holy Spirit (in His perfection)," whereas the apostles most certainly were, you have to account first of all for the closed canon.

Something says someone is not playing with a full deck...

Brad Meyer said...

Someone? Anyone? Please...
Justify why the closing of the canon is synonymous with the stoppage of any type of miraculous events? Why does the closing of scripture not simply mean that no more scripture is to be written? Was every miraculous event God performed in history recorded in scripture? Apparently not: "Jhn 20:30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book."

Brad Meyer said...

In the absence of scripture being provided to substantiate cessationism, here's a little of what the Bible says:
Rom 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, [let us prophesy] according to the proportion of faith;
1Cr 12:1 Now concerning spiritual [gifts], brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
1Cr 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
1Cr 12:9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
1Cr 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
1Cr 14:1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual [gifts], but rather that ye may prophesy.
1Cr 14:6 Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?
1Cr 14:12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual [gifts], seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.

Such a wasteful oversight that these instructions pertaining to the gifts were not simply given to the apostles who would bt the only ones to use them...

Gummby said...

Brad said: Was every miraculous event God performed in history recorded in scripture? Apparently not: "Jhn 20:30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book."

Brad, I'm not sure I follow you're reasoning here. You're using the fact that Scripture didn't record all the miracle of Jesus as proof that miraculous sign gifts are still active today?

Brad said: Such a wasteful oversight that these instructions pertaining to the gifts were not simply given to the apostles who would bt the only ones to use them...

Really? This is exactly the same kind of logic Carl Sagan uses in his book Contact (& the movie) to justify alien life. When Ellie asks her father if there is life on other planets, he replies,"I don't know, Sparks. But I guess I'd say if it is just us... seems like an awful waste of space."

Brad, you keep ignoring my basic question. More importantly, though, you seem to be ignoring the basic premise of Scripture that prophets are reliable 100% of the time. You said you agreed to my statement, but you really haven't. What you're saying is that true prophecy is true 100% of the time. What I'm saying is that true prophets prophesy truthfully 100% of the time.

If prophecy is from God (which you say you agree with), then it must be true, always. It is not, nor has it never been OK, for true prophets to prophesy falsely. Even once. The definition of a false prophet is that they give false prophecies. Why can't you accept that?

To anyone else still interested in a civil discussion: If we can't even agree that true prophets must always prophesy truthfully, and false prophets are those who prophesy falsely (things about which Scripture is completely UNambiguous), how can we ever get to a genuine discussion of what (if any) miraculous gifts are still operative and why?

Gummby said...

Blogger's links don't seem to be working, so here's what I said, & here's what Brad replied.

Me:
Brad Meyer says: Why can we not accept that the New Covenant says to a false prophecy, "The old man gave false prophecy- that old man is put to death. The new man in Christ is made anew again. Go and sin no more."

Brad has requested Scripture, so here it is, along with a question I'd love to see answered.
"And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 19-21, ESV).

Brad--where does this verse say prophecy comes from? From fallible man, or infallible God? The Scripture says that prophecy comes from God, not man. If that's true (and I think it is) then there's only two conclusions about inaccurate prophecy: either God was wrong, or the prophecy wasn't from God. And if a person proclaims a prophecy is from God and it's not from God, why would you follow him?

Brad:
Matt,
Your statement says nothing not already agreed to.

Jacob Lee said...

Brothers-Steve Camp has posted an excellent message on his blogspot by Dr. John Piper on "Spiritual Gifts". A healthy physical body needs all its parts working properly,so does the church (Romans 12:3-8)!
In His Grip,
Jacob Lee

candyinsierras said...

Even though I'm not a "brother" in the technical term Jacob, I meandered on over to Steve Camp's blog. What a great article by John Piper! Thanks for the recommendation. Such a lack of hysteria over there too. :)

Breuss Wane said...

Frankly, I find this post to be brilliant. Before there is *any* argument over exegesis, common ground must be established before there can be any meaningful dialogue.

I have been involved in enough discussions with continuationists ad infinitem to know that their bait and switch (with *miracles* and *canonical revelation*) starts early and is employed often (I'll grant that many times this is unintentional).

In establishing common ground only 2 questions matter: Has anyone in the last 1900 years told a lame man to get up and walk and that man did so? Has anyone written inspired canon (Benedict fans need not apply)?

Hats off to Phil.

Via Crusis said...

matt gumm: Excellent scripture. I obliquely refered to same earlier.

"Now I know that even if I was witnessing the Transfiguration with Peter, I have a more sure word of prophesy. Steve

10:19 PM, January 10, 2006"

Specifically: 2 Peter 1: 16-21.

I'll explain myself. Peter is not saying his experiences confirmed the scriptures. The greek word order and the context suggest Peter is ranking scripture over his own apostilic experiences. "And we have more sure the prophetic word"

This amazes me. "Excellent Glory" refers to the Cloud of Glory on the Mt. of Tranfiguration. Peter was so blown away by this experience he suggested making three tabernacles on the spot. But the Word of God is more sure than even the Transfiguration and all the experiences of the apostles! Praise God!

Why settle for 60% or 99.9% truth for that matter.

EJ said...

Deuteronomy 18:22 NKJV:

"When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him."

Note this does not command that we not be afraid of the false prophecy that was given, because there is no need to say this. The fact that the prophecy was false is already established, because the prophecy did "not happen or come to pass". Since it did not happen, we would not fear that false word.

It says, instead, "...you shall not fear him." In other words, your future attitude toward the one who spoke presumptuously in his "prophecy" will not be one of fear for any future so-called prophecies. He no longer has credibility as a prophet. His words are not to be taken seriously on the off-chance he might be 40-60% correct.

Applying this standard, there does not appear to be any prophet currently or recently (within the last 1900 years or so) on the scene. However, if you interpret Rev. 11:3 in a futurist sense (and I do), then it appears the gift will return in the future, at least to the two witnesses in that verse.

Can we create a third category, maybe "temporary cessationist"?

Brad Meyer said...

Folks,
I went to great lengths with James Spurgeon to make an analogy: Christ did nothing to even condemn the adulterous woman brought to him, much less clamor for her death penalty which was mandated by the Law. Why not?
Relevance: The penalty for adultery was death- just as false prophecy. The expectation of faithfulness was 100%- just as prophecy.
Please explain why a married couple today is still considered married by God if forgiven adultery has taken place. Upon a satisfactory answer to this question, I'll concede.

Catez said...

Upon a satisfactory answer to this question, I'll concede.

Well I gave you an answer which you completely ignored and didn't respond to. Why is that?

The question - when are a married couple with adultery forgiven not married?

Answer: When they weren't married in the first place.

How can some-one be restored to something they never were in the first place?

Where in the bible does God instruct us to take out the "good" bits of a prophecy and ignore the "bad" bits of the same prophecy?

Where in the bible is there any example of people doing this?

Come on Brad. Whether some-one is a cessationist or a continuationsit they should be able to look at the sctriptures on this point. It's not an accurate use of the passge on your part and has been answered more than once. If you are going to concede on a point then be honest and admit the analogy falls down on it's basic presupposition.

It's not a big ask actually - simply show your point from scripture that directly applies to prophecy. There's plenty of scripture on prophecy.

EJ said...

Hi, Brad,
I don't think your analogy from the disputed text of John 7:53-8:11 is really comparable, because everybody agrees we don't want to see capital punishment for false prophets. Also, and this is a little off the subject (sorry, Phil), but the OT book of Hosea is an example that grace and forgiveness were understood in OT times.

I think what you are really asking is whether or not a true prophet can become a false prophet, then publicly repent and become a true prophet again. I just can't see Isaiah lapsing into presumptuous prophecies after having his lips purged in chapter 6 verse 7, then being used to prophesy authentically again. How would God's people know how to judge what was God's word and what was not? That is why Deuteronomy 18:22 says not to fear the prophet whose word "does not happen or come to pass".

Brad Meyer said...

catez,
OK then. If you're willing to stand on the idea that anyone who has committed adultery was never married to begin with.... the Catholic church is waiting for you with open arms.
If God can restore someone whom under the Old Covenant would have been stoned to death, why is it that we arbitrarily in our righteous anger are denying that He can restore someone from false prophecy?
I'll answer my own question. Because we're angry at those whom are speaking falsely and want them to stop- agreed, but you don't speak falsely for God in order to do so.

Jeremy Weaver said...

"Aaaaargh!", he screamed, "Somebody stop this!" while pulling his hair out.

Gummby said...

Doxy--I'm pretty close to being done, but I'm gonna try once more.

Brad--
If the test for a true prophet is 100% accuracy, and you say that is no longer required, then how do we test prophets? How do we know if someone is a true prophet or not if they aren't required to be accurate? Once you've taken away the objective criteria, what's left? Is there any way to test them, any threshold they must meet?

Because it seems to me that, once someone removes the objective criteria of accuracy, there is no way of discerning real prophets from false ones. Anyone who says they are prophesying may be considered a prophet, and anyone who is wrong may repent. In fact, without this objective criteria, false prophets don't even exist--just real ones who are sinners or who make mistakes.

Brad Meyer said...

matt,
thanks for honest questions. i think what is missing is an understanding of the New Covenant. Since Christ and The Spirit came, THE PROPHET lives inside of us. Certainly, there is now a distinction between a false prophet who deliberately misleads sheep and a Christian who is not "operating in the Spirit but the flesh". These are scary charismatic terms to many- none the less true...
Many here at this blog apparently have been hurt in the past and are once bitten twice shy...understandable...

Gummby said...

Brad Meyer said: Certainly, there is now a distinction between a false prophet who deliberately misleads sheep and a Christian who is not "operating in the Spirit but the flesh".

But how can you tell which one they are without requiring accuracy? What is your criteria?

Kyle said...

(brad meyer) kyle:
"When someone is healed against all odds, in response to faithful prayer"

Cessationists believe in modern day healing? Why this but not the other gifts?


Healing in response to faithful prayer is not the "gift of healing"!

(brad meyer) Please juxtapose these two responses you've made: . . . Something says someone is not playing with a full deck...

You equate the "perfection of the Holy Spirit" with the manifestation of the miraculous gifts—that's a false equation. It is not the cessationist argument that the closing of the canon in anyway "hinders" the Holy Spirit's own perfection or His working in the world. THAT's what I meant.

(brad meyer) Please explain why a married couple today is still considered married by God if forgiven adultery has taken place. Upon a satisfactory answer to this question, I'll concede.

Disanalogous, Brad! Do we have false prophets who were once true prophets? The prophetic office isn't the same sort of institution as marriage!

(brad meyer) i think what is missing is an understanding of the New Covenant. Since Christ and The Spirit came, THE PROPHET lives inside of us.

And so what, Brad? Does that make us all prophets?

Certainly, there is now a distinction between a false prophet who deliberately misleads sheep and a Christian who is not "operating in the Spirit but the flesh".

The difference is not that one is a false prophet and the other is a fallible-but-true prophet. The difference is that one is an intentional deceiver, and the other is deceived and presumptuous.

Brad Meyer said...

kyle:
"Healing in response to faithful prayer is not the "gift of healing"!"- please put the finishing strokes on this one. This fascinates me.

Kyle said...

(brad meyer) "Healing in response to faithful prayer is not the "gift of healing"!"- please put the finishing strokes on this one. This fascinates me.

The gift of healing, like all of the other miraculous gifts, would be given to individuals to exercise. So, for example, Peter exercised the gift of healing in Acts 3: "'In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!' And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were strengthened" (vv. 6–7).

When God heals someone in response to the prayers of the faithful, who is exercising the gift of healing?

You may find this of interest: http://www.the-highway.com/healing_TOC.html

James Spurgeon said...

I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I'm thinking there are a lot of wicked husbands out there who would love to be told that God no longer requires 100% fidelity in marriage--only 60-65%--since we're under the new covenant.

No, God requires 100% fidelity.

I hope Brad is not saying that sin no longer matters under the new covenant or that it no longer has consequences. I don't think he would.

Regardless, his analogy still fails because God does not set up 100% fidelity as a test to see whether or not a man is truly married. God does set up 100% accuracy as a test of whether a man is truly a prophet or not. And rather than renege on that standard under the new covenant, Jesus undergirds it by telling us to beware of these false prophets and that we will know them by their fruit. A fig tree does not bear thistles.

Now whether you are a cessationist or not, anyone claiming to be a prophet must be held to the biblical standard and we are to judge them as true or false based on that standard. Moses and Jesus agree on this.

The adulterous woman analogy breaks down and the new covenant argument fails. I would say that even if I were a continuationist.

Can we not make the distinction?

A man may commit adultery and still be married (though perhaps not for long). However, according to the verses already quoted from Deuteronomy, a false prophecy is proof that a man is not a prophet. We need not fear him in anything he says at all.

Jacob Lee said...

Just because one has not seen any authentic uses of the gifts does not necessitate they are not operating. I too am very skeptical of many reports I hear. I will not share any of those but I will share a few personal ones. On three separate occasions (8 months total) I have had the privilege to proclaim the gospel in India. Each time I came down with a bad case of amoebic dysentery (bad stuff…my nickname for it is “diarrhea to the tenth power” J ) , despite my best efforts. Upon arriving back in the USA I had many lay hands on me and pray for my healing. Two of the three occasions in time I got better through a regiment of medicine. The other time I was healed immediately…a brother laid hands on my stomach and as he prayed his hands felt like a hot iron. I had no more dysentery. One knows when such a horrible ailment is gone! Personally, I do not know if I have the gift of healing. Most, no the vast majority of the time, I pray for someone’s healing I see nothing. That does not bother me, healing belongs to the sovereign Lord just as salvation does. I pray and leave the rest to the Lord. I have seen a few times where the Lord healed without the use of medical means. One example: I was evangelizing in remote jungle village where I prayed for four which had very, very high fervers (probably malaria). When leaving the village the next morning a Hindu priest ran to catch up with us asking what kind of “mantra” we used for all the people were well. There are other examples I could give but I think this should suffice. Are these examples of the gift of healing? I believe so.

Brad Meyer said...

James Spurgeon,
Nice wiggling- Sorry but you do talk about all sides of your mouth- ha!
First, why did Christ not turn the adultress in for stoning.
Your first answer: Because He forgave her.
Your second answer: Because He did not witness it and had no part in it. (He could not forgive her if He had no part in it).

James Spurgeon now:
Brad's saying that men can cheat. Really?
Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

Seriously James, this is Christianity 101.

Brad Meyer said...

kyle,
Are you saying that Peter actually healed the man? Or did Peter call on God to heal him just like someone praying for healing?
Does anyone else cling to this distinction in defense of cessationism?

donsands said...

James Spurgeon is right on with me.
I agree with your interpretation of the Word.
Healing is a gift given to some of God's children sovereignly and severally, according to Paul in 1 cor. 12.

And I suppose this blog is coming to an end forthwith.

I've enjoyed it.
May the Lord be pleased as His children debate these important teachings, yet not essential.

Gummby said...

Brad: Although I agree with J. Spurgeon that marriage and prophecy are two different things, let's set that aside for a moment. For the sake of discussion, if we assume your marriage analogy is true, you still haven't given us your criteria for determining a true prophet. Scripture is clear--we test prophets by the accuracy of their prophecies.

You've suggested that there was a change in the New Testament, but you haven't told us how it's changed, except to suggest that God's grace covers false prophecies. What we need is the method given us to discern the true prophets from the false. Can you please tell us how we are to determine true prophets from false ones, if not by the accuracy of their prophecies?

Brad Meyer said...

Matt:
You have been the best here by far.
In the New Covenant, the curtain is torn and we are allowed to rub right up next to God- Christ lives inside of us, and yes we have access to all of he gifts that Christ has to offer, but some excel in certain areas- others in different gifts.
How do you know a politician lies to you? His lips move. jk
You tell a New Covenant prophet by his accuracy- does what he says come to pass? does it match up with the Word?
Generally, I would agree with the sentiment here that if someone needs to call themselves a prophet today, they're probably trying to be something they're not. In other words, just follow the directions in the New Testament for dealing with prophecy- just do a search for prophecy. Christ's Spirit now lives in you to help to discern.

Brad Meyer said...

James Spurgeon,
"Regardless, his {Brad's} analogy still fails because God does not set up 100% fidelity as a test to see whether or not a man is truly married. God does set up 100% accuracy as a test of whether a man is truly a prophet or not."
This is circular logic: God requires prophets to be 100% accurate. How do we know? Because He says to stone those that give false prophecy. Well he also says to stone those guilty of marital infidelity. But we know that marital infidelity can and has been forgiven at the cross.
Well God says to ignore (not fear) the false prophet. He also says that one may divorce (ignore) the adulterer- or forgive if desired.

Catez said...

Brad, I'll respond to this comment:

OK then. If you're willing to stand on the idea that anyone who has committed adultery was never married to begin with.... the Catholic church is waiting for you with open arms.

This is just deliberately misrepresentative and is getting silly. I was talking about prophets, not marriage. What I have said is that if two people were not married in the first place they can't be considered married. If two people, neither of whom are married, commit fornication, repent and are forgiven, this does not then make them automatically married. They are restored to purity in singleness, not marriage. If a false prophet gives false prophecies, repents and is forgiven, this does not automatically make him a true prophet. He is restored to being a person who does not speak falsely.
To be clear - you put forward a very bad attempt at an analogy which is about prophets. We are not discussing marriage. Of course some-one married can be forgiven adultery and be still married. But some-one who is not married and commits fornication, repents and is forgiven, is not now automatically considered married. I think you should look at the fact that your defense of your analogy is saying that people not in wedlock who have sex can call themselves married, but if they are forgiven of the extra-marital sex they are considered married even though they aren't. Strange point to say the least - considered married when not and while engaged in fornication, but need to repent and be forgiven of fornication to be considered married. This position is not even biblical for marriage, and certainly has nothing to do with clear scripture on prophecy. Whichever way you extend it, it falls down. If you say it is about prophecy and line it up with scripture on prophecy and then apply that to marriage - unmarried fornicators are really married but they must stop fornicationg and then they are married. If you say it is about marriage, and line it up with scripture on marriage and then apply that to prophets - false prophets who were never true prophets can be forgiven their sin and hey presto! - now they are true prophets.

If God can restore someone whom under the Old Covenant would have been stoned to death, why is it that we arbitrarily in our righteous anger are denying that He can restore someone from false prophecy?

I don't see any righteous anger. Necessary correction. This has been answered for you and as yet, although asked more than once, you have not provided any scriptural explanation as to why a false prophet would be "restored" to being a true prophet. The New Covenant is forgiveness of sins. As Christians we are restored in our relationship with God. If a person pretends to be some-one they are not, repents and is forgiven for such presumption and deceit - that does not then mean they are restored to being some-one they aren't. It means they are restored to who they really are in Christ.

If God can restore someone whom under the Old Covenant would have been stoned to death

But you keep missing it Brad - restoration is being reconciled again to Christ and being who you are in truth. Scripture does not say false prophets will be "restored" to true prophets. Does this mean they can be forgiven and still be Christians - of course. But it doesn't mean they are forgiven and though they were never a real prophet they now somehow automatically become one. You show me from relelvant scripture - and if you can't then please be honest instead of saying the same thing over and over without scriptural basis.

I'll answer my own question. Because we're angry at those whom are speaking falsely and want them to stop- agreed, but you don't speak falsely for God in order to do so.

I think you may may angry Brad since you includee yourself in the "we", but projecting it on to others is pure speculation. For myself I desire to understand the scriptures, and to not give assent to standards that contradict or twist scripture. As for the part about speaking falsely for God - please don't be silly. Throwing inflammatory accusations around is not profitable. If you have a sound scriptural basis for your view then present it. Many comments here have shown why your argument has been poor and you have been asked for relevant scripture. Avoiding that by charging others with speaking falsely is a silly smokescreen from the real topic, particularly when you cannot come up with scripture that shows any falsity in their argument. It's certainly not a case for modern day prophets.

I think I am done discussing this particular analogy with you. You have now been answered several times and quite clearly. To continue on this point repetitively is not a profitable use of my time.

Brad Meyer said...

catez,
wow. that was quite a load. I can't quite keep from laughing to myself the back handsprings you good people will do...

to be honest, I have been the catalyst at this post in many ways, but mainly for scripture citation. please.

One last attempt at what you continue to evade deliberately. If God can restore someone from a capital offense for which 100% fidelity is mandated, (OBVIOUS QUESTION TO ANYONE WATCHING THIS) why are you certain that someone who has prophecied falsely and repented to God, is forever unusable by Him to speak through? Because, Brad, that's what it said in the Old Testament.
Yes, indeed, the analogy holds and that's why it's so frustrating to religious people.
Never argue against the redeeming blood of Christ unto His perfection my bruthas. It symbollically makes you one in the crowd clamoring to stone the adultress.

Brad Meyer said...

Here is some MORE scripture which of course should have simply been an in-house memo to the Apostles:
1Cr 14:39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
1Cr 12:10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another [divers] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
1Th 5:19 Quench not the Spirit.
1Th 5:20 Despise not prophesyings.
1Th 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
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.

Catez said...

Hi Matt,
Just to respond to you:

Can I just point out that we may need to have working definitions of those things which are getting seriously mixed up here, ie. miraculous gifts, new revelation, and God's guidance in our lives.

I guess we'll see where Phil takes it - since he is the one doing the series. I see your point - personally I think a working understanding of biblical inerrancy, the infallibility of the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, and scriptural principles (the OT is not obsolete) would be very helpful.

The first two there are the basis really, and then the third can be pursued. So far on this thread I haven't seen a sound argument against the point Phil made in his post - no-one has claimed 100% infallibility evident today. Some have tried to argue biblical errancy but that doesn't stand up - it does give me reason to think we need to look at biblical inerrancy as the basis though.

And then there's some out of context stuff that has gone off the point I think and has degenerated into speculation on what might be the case but isn't substantiated.

I agree some workng definitions on basics would help.

Brad Meyer said...

PS. The prophetic author of 2/3 of the New Testament used to slaughter Christians. Do you think in the job interview (ha), the Apostles said to each other:
"Hey look. We can look over the execution of God's people. I for one just want to know if he ever happened to use the words, 'God told me...' falsely. Barring that, I don't see a problem here."

Catez said...

Hi Steve,
I'm late picking up on this:

If prophecy, even in the 1st century, was completely 100% perfect, then why did Paul tell the Corinthians to weigh the prophecies?

Actually as far as the Corinthians go the prophets were told to "judge" the prophecies of other prophets. If you look at it in line with other scripture we see that judging or testing prophecy involves discerning whether the spirit is of God or not, and the issue of infalliblity. Given that there were false prophets and teachers trying to infiltrate the early churches the advice makes sense.

There's nothing in the context to suggest weighing an individual prophecy and taking out the 65% accurate part for instance. Neither does it say in Corinthians that everyone has the ability to judge the prophecies. If you look at the Greek used it really is about judging - and about discrimianting between one or the other. It also carries the meaning of being discerning - the discerning of spirits in this context. Prophecy is never biblically a mixture of God's spirit and another spirit.
Hope that helps.

Gummby said...

Brad Meyer said: This is circular logic: God requires prophets to be 100% accurate. How do we know? Because He says to stone those that give false prophecy. Well he also says to stone those guilty of marital infidelity. But we know that marital infidelity can and has been forgiven at the cross.

Brad, I think you've misunderstood why prophets need to be accurate. God setup 100% accuracy as a test so we can know who the true prophets are, ie, the ones that actually speak for him. Since God calls prophets to prophesy, and since God himself is never wrong, true prophets will also never be wrong.

Also, when we're told to test the spirits, what do think is the standard? When you replied to me earlier, you said: You tell a New Covenant prophet by his accuracy- does what he says come to pass? does it match up with the Word?, but then you followed by saying: Christ's Spirit now lives in you to help to discern. But we have to rely on what God has already said (ie, the Scripture) as the dividing line between truth and error, not our feelings informed by the Spirit. That is how we test the spirits.

Try as I might to understand your marriage analogy, I think it falls short, because we're talking about two different things. You're saying that, since we're under the new covenant, people who make false prophecies can be forgiven, and don't have to be stoned. But I don't see anyone arguing that point with you.

What I and others have said is that when someone prophesies faslely, they can no longer be considered a true prophet. That may sound harsh, but understand, we didn't set up the rules--God did. And if someone claims to be speaking on behalf of God (I'm talking new revelation, not preaching here), they had better be right, or they are not from God--period. They are fierce wolves, as Paul would say (Acts 20:29-30), and as John says, they are the spirit of antichrist (1 John 4:1-3). That's serious stuff.

Paul also says "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed." (Gal 1:8-9, ESV). That's pretty strong language against false teachers, and surely this warning would apply to false prophets as well, right?

So again, to reiterate this point: if someone in leadership does something wrong and repents, just because we forgive them doesn't mean that we automatically restore them to their former position. I would think this would be especially true if someone claimed to be receiving new revelation from God.

Gummby said...

BTW, Paul didn't just show up the day after he presided over a stoning and say,"Hey guys, I'm on your side now."

Let's look at his account from Galatians 1-2 (all quotes ESV).

And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. (Gal 1:14-17)

Paul says here that after Christ appeared to him, he didn't just show up on the doorstep of the apostles, but he went away for awhile.

For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Gal 1:11-12)

He went away to be taught the Gospel, apparently by some sort of direct revelation from Christ (this is important, because one of the requirements of the Apostles, the Twelve, was that they had spent time with Jesus during his earthly ministry--see Acts 1:21-26.)

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me.
Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me.
(Gal 1:18-2:1)

He worked for three years, and then went to see Peter and James the brother of Jesus. Then, after another 14 years, he finally went up and presented himself to the Jerusalem church. By that point, they had heard of his ministry, and seen his faithfulness, and praised God for it.

Although I personally don't see the gift of prophecy as still active today, if I did, this incident would be very instructive as far as how to handle someone who had formerly been against the faith (through persecution, false prophecy, or anything else). It makes sense that they should labor and show some fruit before they would be embraced. This is consistent with Paul's instructions to Timothy at the end of 1 Timothy, where he admonishes him not to be quick to lay on hands (a reference, I think, to appointing elders and leaders of the church), and also watching the fruit of someone.

James Spurgeon said...

Brad, I think we could have had a more profitable discussion if we could have set aside the straw men first.

1. I am not arguing for cessationism. To be truthful, I couldn't care less either way.

2. I don't think you're listening to me.

3. All manner of sins may be forgiven except for the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit--Jesus. Therefore, I am not saying that false prophecy is an unpardonable sin.

4. I don't want to see anyone get stoned--not even at a rock concert.

5. I have yet to figure out your point about the adulterous woman and her being forgiven. Call me dumb, but you're just going to have to spell it out.

6. False prophets can be forgiven. But God says never to listen to them. Ever. 100% accuracy is the test God gives us and he makes it clear that anytime anyone misses even once they are never to be trusted--ever.

7. The new covenant does not change that. If it does, you are going to have to explain to me how. And so far your explanations have had the familiar ring of antinomianism.

8. Jesus, in the sermon on the mount, upheld Moses' dictum on 100% accuracy by telling us to inspect their fruit and know them by their fruit. So even if I admit continuationism (which I am tempted to do) I still must hold all would-be prophets to the biblical standard. I am to try the Spirits. God does not send forth false prophets.

Hey, since I seem to be a glutton for punishment and this comment thread is getting l-o-n-g, maybe we could take this over to my blog. Would that be alright?

Let me know.

And, hey, please look at what I explicitly say and don't try to read between the lines and deal with what you think I might be implying. That will help because I don't think you know my position as well as you think.

God bless.

Kyle said...

kyle,
Are you saying that Peter actually healed the man? Or did Peter call on God to heal him just like someone praying for healing?


God healed the man through the agency of Peter. Just like with prophecy, God speaks through the agency of a prophet. Through whose agency is God working when He is responding to prayer, hm?

Does anyone else cling to this distinction in defense of cessationism?

Brad, even as a Pentecostal (Assemblies of God) I was well aware of this distinction. It simply amazes me how many continuationists confuse categories here!

Once again, I encourage you to read this piece: http://www.the-highway.com/healing_TOC.html

Brad Meyer said...

Everyone,
Thanks for playing. If you are still around here after the knockout punch dealt to your argument regarding murderous Paul being deliberately chosen to prophetically pen the majority of the New Testament, then you're here either to save face or you won't be influenced.

Your argument is no longer tenable. Please disperse and go home.

James Spurgeon said...

Brad, I fail to even see the relevance. Call me dumb. I have it on good authority that Elijah and Elisha were imperfect sinners, too. But they never uttered a false prophecy. Neither did Saul of Tarsus.

Brad Meyer said...

James Spurgeon,
Let me understand (this is good)...
You know for a fact that although Paul previously butchered Christians, he never falsely spoke for God because this would have been the ultimate...wow! this is fascinating stuff...
And all along here, I thought God's point in choosing Paul was to show that His grace covered anything... We should ignore murder by someone in their past, but not false prophecy...
OK, if that's your position... keep fighting for it....

Kyle said...

(brad meyer) Let me understand (this is good)...
You know for a fact that although Paul previously butchered Christians, he never falsely spoke for God because this would have been the ultimate...


What he said, Brad, is that Paul never prophesied falsely. And you'd be hard-pressed indeed to show that he had. Therefore, the example of Paul is irrelevant to the position you've been espousing, namely, that 100% prophetic accuracy is no longer required.

Brad Meyer said...

kyle,
"Paul never prophesied falsely. And you'd be hard-pressed indeed to show that he had."
I'm no lawyer so I'll have to defer to a higher authority than myself as to whether cold-blooded murder of God's people qualifies as speaking for God.
This is embarassing...

Gummby said...

Brad Meyer said: We should ignore murder by someone in their past, but not false prophecy...
OK, if that's your position... keep fighting for it....


Brad--you're confusing the message and the messenger again. If the message is from God, then the messenger is a true prophet. If not, they are a false prophet. Surely we can agree on that much. Again, at the risk of being repetitive, "cessationists" didn't set these rules out, God did.

As far as the New Testament goes, if God's rule regarding prophets has changed, why does Paul bother warning about fierce wolves instead of just saying the false teachers are acting in the flesh rather than the Spirit? Why does he call a curse down on anyone, including angels or even himself, if they preach a different gospel?

Because the message is what's important. Don't you think that if someone claims to speak for God, they should be truthful? Prophets should be held to a higher standard than pastors, not lower, because they claim their word is directly from the Lord.

And how do we judge the message? By revelation that has already been given--the Bible. God isn't Obi-Wan Kenobi--"trust your feelings, Luke." Thankfully, not, because feelings can be subjective. No, he gave us the objective Word of God.

As far as your statements about Paul go, before he was a believer, he thought he was doing God's work by killing Christians. It was only after his miraculous transformation (including 17 years of ministry away from Jerusalem) that he finally came in and was extended the hand of friendship.

So, yes, I have no doubt that at some point Paul spoke falsely for God--before he was a believer. I don't see what that has to do with our discussion, since I've never seen you claim that any of these "so-called prophets" are unbelievers, like Paul was.

Your claim is that we should cut them some slack, because they are only human, and people make mistakes. I just don't see any Scriptural warrant for your position. This isn't a New Covenant issue, this is an authority of God issue. If I believed that someone could still speak on God's behalf, I'd make good and sure that every syllable that came out of their mouths matched up with Scripture. I'd be a Berean x3.

You yourself said "Generally, I would agree with the sentiment here that if someone needs to call themselves a prophet today, they're probably trying to be something they're not." But you've spent the last four days arguing exactly the opposite.

You go one to say: "In other words, just follow the directions in the New Testament for dealing with prophecy..." But that's the real problem (and I'm not being mean when I say this, just truthful). There's nowhere in the New Testament that says,"If someone is wrong about a prophecy, forgive them and continue to listen to them." Yet that's exactly what happens in Charismatic churches.

There is nothing to fear from false prophets if you don't listen to them. But under the current regime, there are no false prophets, only fallible ones, so everyone can get a hearing. Even if prophecy exists today, it seems clear that Biblical guidelines regarding who should be considered a true prophet have been cast aside in favor of an eagerness to believe that anyone and everyone can prophesy, and ultimately it doesn't even matter if what they say is right.

P.S. James: If you get any takers, I'll be there.

James Spurgeon said...

brad meyer: Let me understand (this is good)...
You know for a fact that although Paul previously butchered Christians, he never falsely spoke for God because this would have been the ultimate...wow! this is fascinating stuff...


You know, it seems to me that if you had as much of the Spirit as you claim, then (a) you wouldn't mock me, (b) you would try harder to understand me instead of being eager to mischaracterize my argument, and (c) you would be seeking to teach me rather than just trying to make me look foolish.

Let me know if the Spirit speaks to you about any of that.

Kyle said...

kyle,
"Paul never prophesied falsely. And you'd be hard-pressed indeed to show that he had."
I'm no lawyer so I'll have to defer to a higher authority than myself as to whether cold-blooded murder of God's people qualifies as speaking for God.
This is embarassing...


You're right, Brad, it certainly is most embarassing—for you. You are deliberately confusing semantic categories in order to prop up your otherwise poor logic. Prophecy is not merely "speaking for God," but "speaking the inspired and infallible word of God revealed to the prophet." There is no evidence whatsoever that Paul ever prophesied before his conversion, so his preconversion life is utterly irrelevant to the point at hand, namely, whether the shedding of Christ's blood allows for fallible and inaccurate prophecy to be "true prophecy" in spite of its fallibility and inaccuracy. If you cannot keep up without introducing more and more tangential and irrelevant issues, and if you won't reply to the substantive points I've made, it is pointless for me even to continue any dialogue with you.

Brad Meyer said...

james spurgeon,
sorry but mocking is very effective.:)
matt,
this statement has me contemplating suicide:"So, yes, I have no doubt that at some point Paul spoke falsely for God--before he was a believer. I don't see what that has to do with our discussion."- If Paul spoke falsely, he is not/was not 100% accurate!!!!!!!!!!!
kyle, how is it in there?

Catez said...

Prophecy is not merely "speaking for God," but "speaking the inspired and infallible word of God revealed to the prophet."


Excellent point Kyle. And the bible has no mention of Paul claiming to be a prophet prior to his conversion. He mentions a number of things he was and did but not once does he claim to have been a prophet. So firstly - once again we have speculation about what Paul might have been or done instead of looking at scripture. Scripture is sufficient - we don't neeed Isaiah's breakfast table conversations or an apostle's discussions on the household shopping list, or what some-one might have said or done.

So, going by what scripture does reveal about Paul prior to his conversion - he does not claim to be a prophet. That would have completely contradicted his beliefs at the time. Paul made his boast in the law, was a Pharisee, and respected the authority of the High Priest. No way he would just up and claim he was a prophet - and since he put his confidence (or thought he did) in the Torah he would never have given "prophecies" without claiming to be a prophet - since the two go together.

Scripture tells us what Paul was prior to his conversion and at no time is he acknowledged by the High Priest as a prophet. He is given authority to persecute Christians - but he is not given the office of a prophet.

I'm not unfamiliar with the approach Brad is taking - I've seen it before on issues. Basically it comes down to calling anyone who disagrees a Phaisee or some-one who would stone some-one, even though that isn't what they are doing. But I think people who actually persevere through over 180 comments can see for themselves that most people here want to pursue a scriptural basis for what they believe.

I'm quite interested in a comment some-one made in which they said they were wrestling with what miraculous gifts can be validated today.

I do find it interesting that if some-one is making the point that the Holy Spirit is doing exactly the same things today then we would reasonably expect 100% infallibility today. In the New Testament here is no account of partially true prophecies, partially effective miracles, or prophecies that were a bit from God and a bit from some-one or something else.

We don't see this 100% infallibility today though - we find a people claiming to be prophets etc who by virtue of the fact that they are not infallible in their "prophecy" or "miraculous gift" then tell us the Holy Spirit is not the same today - he isn't as effective any more. It is nonsensical to say that the Holy Spirit has become less powerful - he is God. However it does make sense to say that the Holy Spirit is not doing certain things at this time. Even in the NT we see that miracles happened at certain times and not others. I think scripturally it is more accurate to say that the Holy Spirit is either doing something which is 100% infallible, or else he has chosen not to manifest himself in that way. But this partially from God stuff in completely unscriptural. Likewise the idea that any Christian has some mystical ability to "weigh" partially true prophecies. The test of prophecy is scripture - and as we have the revelation of God in his inerrant written word, we do not need extra-biblical "revelation" that contradicts scripture by being partly "true" when there is not one scriptural example of partly true prophecy being acceptable to God or from God.

I've enjoyed reading your comments Kyle. Just aded some thoughts of my own here.

Catez said...

Hi James,
I'd be interested in seeing something on your blog - preferably with comments free of the playground taunt and insult type approach Brad has taken. If the discussion is actually on topic and on relevant scripture it would have me interested.

Char said...

I hate blogger. I can never get the links to work. One more time:

To everyone who is trying to discuss this issue with Brad;
the likeness is incredible

Some people actually think they can win arguments by sheer obtuseness.

Catez said...

Hi Char,
I didn't visit the link but I think your assessment of the type of argument is correct. Reminds me of a church I was in once - if other churches had a different teaching then the leaders said they were "religious" (they had no idea of the correct meaning of the word "religious"), or they were "self-righteous Pharisees".

Brad has tried appealing to that mentality in his comments. I learned the hard way that labelling and name calling like that is a message of hate and ignorance. My church, which prided itself on not being like those "Pharisees" and which encouraged an automatically hostile attitude to anyone who didn't accept it's teaching - well it turned out to be teaching seious error. The whole church (minus a removed leader) repented of pride, among other things.

I discovered that some of those "Pharisees" had a tremendous amount of scriptural understanding, had solid biblical teaching, and had studied carefully for a long time. It was a sin to call them "self-righteous Pharisees" just because some-one else said they were. I discovered people who desired to be continually transformed by the Holy Spirit into the image of Christ, who pursued their scripture study with integrity and humility, and who had a lot that I benefitted from. I didn't agree with everything they said, but after a church diet of complete hostility toward any other teaching, name-calling without basis, and cute stories and analogies that were not even scriptural - these guys that I was taught were not even to be considered turned out to be my spiritual life raft. (Jesus is the sustainer of course).

I continue to discover people like that and have benfitted from some of the comments here on this thread too.

God bless you - your comment about the stoning was very good I thought.

Impacted Wisdom Truth said...

How did notions of fallibility and error become tools of defense for continuationism?

The emperor has no clothes.

Char said...

Catez:
The link is just a pic of a guy hitting his head against a brick wall. :)

I too know all about taking a long time to recognize the irony in saying "I'm so glad I'm not like those self-righteous religious people..." It's scary when you realize you've become the thing you claim to hate-but in a good way because it makes one rely all the more on grace.

Deutero Q said...

RIPENING FRUIT

Here is a great observation by J.I. Packer in his superb study of the Puritans, "A Quest for Godliness." Packer, an expert on Puritanism's greatest theologian, John Owen, says that Owen would evaluate modern Pentecostal phenomena according to several principles.

One such principle, writes Packer, is as follows:

"Since the use of a person's gifts is intended by God to further the work of grace in his own soul, the possibility that (for instance) a man's glossolalia is from God can only be entertained at all as long as it accompanied by a discernible ripening of the fruit of the Spirit in his life."

In a time when many Christians are chasing after fads and experiences, those words should be pondered very carefully. We Christians (cessationists and non-cessationists alike) do well to examine ourselves to see if there is indeed a ripening of the fruit of the Holy Spirit--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control--in our lives.

g-man said...

JESUS REPLIED,"ARE YOU NOT IN ERROR BECAUSE YOU DO NOT KNOW THE SCRIPTURES OR THE POWER OF GOD?"
This statement of Our Lord and Savior only reminds me that God is in the business of correcting our theology,I can only say that God is not limited, but can and will do what He wants, when he wants .proof text mal.3:6 Have the gifts of God ceased because we now have the cannon? i don't think so,abused imitated,Hocked like God gave them whole sale,but they who do such things in the name of God will only hear depart from me you crused of my Father,I won't throw the baby out with the bath water.

I know that men have cheapened the grace of God in mens eyes and in God's by their miracle fund raisers
But the Gifts and calling are irrevocable,Rom 11:29 But grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord
2 pet.3:18 if God wants to empower his people with his gifts,then i hope i willing to recieve that grace.if not,Then what He's did for me is more than enough,And it make me want to do something about it,pray for us here in New England
Charles Gordon

ettesa said...

I am a great believer in free wiil, this is a gift from god so all us may do what we want believe what we want, it does not mean he does not exist or care just that he cares for all, I sell halfords sat nav and deal with the general public everyday and see all sides of personalitoes from good and gracious to selfish and cruel, it does not effect my beliefs nor will it as it is god who will decide in the end what all of us are to be.

Pitbull78 said...

Brad, do you defend "prophets" who have spoken false prophesies because you are among their ranks?