06 November 2005

Some odds 'n' ends before I lapse into a drug-induced stupor

For reasons that I don't understand, I am beset with severe allergy problems every year about this time. I know it's not technically "hay fever" season for most folks. But oddly enough, for most of the 23 years I have lived in California, I start having itchy eyes, congestion, asthma, and other allergic symptoms around November 1, and it can last until mid-April, just when most people start fighting allergies.

I'm sure it has something to do with olive trees budding and blooming, because whenever I am in the vicinity of them, it's noticeably worse. I feel the effects of my allergies ten times more in the San Fernando Valley (where Grace Church is) than I do here in the Santa Clarita Valley (where I live and work).

Anyway, this year my very own personal allergy season has been especially bad already, and that is not a good sign. Last week's trip to Mt. Hermon did not help; on the contrary, it made my eyes dryer, my nose itchier, and my sinuses more congested than before. There was an olive tree in the backyard of the place we stayed.

Today Darlene had to attend a meeting after church (dealing with the nursery volunteer staffing system), so I had to stay in the San Fernando Valley a couple of hours extra after church, and I felt so miserable when I got home that I had no choice but to take two Benadryl. That means I'll be lethargic and unfocused for the next 3 days.

Have I ever mentioned that I don't do well with drugs? Especially allergy tablets (which make me want to sleep); sleep aids (which usually keep me from sleeping at all); and pain killers (which tend to irritate my stomach and esophagus). If I mixed all three, they would basically cancel each other's side-effects but leave me either hyperactive or totally unconscious. I prefer the allergy symptoms, and when that gets to be too much, I choose the lethargy I get from Benadryl.

Anyway, I've got a few little things I want to blog about, but no one thing significant enough to devote a whole Sunday afternoon post to. So quick, before the Benadryl kicks in and leaves me unable to do anything productive but watch reruns of "The Rockford Files," I'm going to try to make a list:

  1. Despite all the militant language flying around the blogosphere suggesting you're about to witness a bloody cage match over the issue of cessationism, I personally don't expect anything rancorous.
         In the first place, cessationism was not even an issue I planned to raise in my current series of posts on false prophecy. I'm still hoping to finish what I originally intended to say before seriously taking up the cudgels against the non-cessationists. In the second place, I recognize this issue is an extremely difficult one in the minds of many people (including some dear friends of mine). So I intend to be uncharacteristically patient.
         While I'm at it, let me say that if all charismatics were of the Mahaney/Piper/Grudem variety, I probably wouldn't pick a fight over our differences on the charismata. That's not to say I approve of any kind of charismatic mysticism, but if no one ever went any further than, say, the typical guy from Sovereign Grace Ministries, I don't think I would spend much energy arguing against them.
         I grew up in Tulsa, however, and the true roots of the charismatic movement are there, not in Geneva. Despite what they want you to think, "Reformed" charismatics are a fairly new kind of hybrid, and they do not represent the mainstream of either the Reformed or charismatic movements. I like their zeal. I appreciate (and share) their desire for passionate (rather than cold and dry) orthodoxy. There's a lot about them I esteem highly, and I am certainly not merely looking for another group of people to make angry.
         But in the context of what is going on today, there are so many dangers associated with "new revelation" that it's not an issue I'm willing to ignore. And if cessationism is the main issue in the minds of people who are undecided about whether or not to listen to voices in their heads, I'm willing to argue the point. But not in an acrimonious way, and not until I've finished what I was going to say. So if you're looking for me to verbally bust some charismatic heads this week, you may be bitterly disappointed.
  2. If you just can't wait to get into the cessationism issue, at least three guys have already posted some pretty decent stuff. One is Daniel J. Phillips ("'Cessationism': ragged dress for a rich lady"); a second is Dave Ulrick, "The Inscrutable Observer" ("Two tiers of inspiration?"); and the third one is William Dicks ("Hearing God and Moving in the Prophetic: A critique").
  3. If you're looking for something like my old "Monday Menagerie" posts, Andrew Lindsey, newlywed, has something I think you will like.
  4. Here's a guy I seem to have a few things in common with.
  5. Here's I guy I seem to have almost nothing in common with.
  6. The Benadryl is having the expected effect. Look for Monday's regular Spurgeon post around midday Pacific time tomorrow.

Phil's signature


Mike said...

"While I'm at it, let me say that if all charismatics were of the Mahaney/Piper/Grudem variety, I probably wouldn't pick a fight over our differences on the charismata."

You can bet that all of these folks lament the tragedy that has beset the charismatic movement with people you have already mentioned, TBN, and the like.

However, it is initially conforting to see a vast distinction being made between these two groups (perhaps Evangelical and Non-Evangelical charismatics). I think it is wise to make this clear up front in order to assure your arguments are given the careful consideration they deserve. Many will tell you that MacArthur was written off when he seemingly blended this huge distinction. Glad to see that you at least intend to not fall into the same error.

In Christ alone,

Kim said...

Benadryl is not nice at all. Here in Canada, we can buy allergy medication over the counter that doesn't knock you out. The only time we have ever given out Benadryl was when we were on the road, our kid has an asthma attack, and we wanted him to sleep.

Hope you feel better soon. We all have allergies here, but they're over now. My sympathies are with you.

Jeff Jones said...

"Despite all the militant language flying around the blogosphere suggesting you're about to witness a bloody cage match over the issue of cessationism, I personally don't expect anything rancorous."

That dragging sound you hear is the heels of thousands of disappointed people trudging back to their armouries, there to put their slings and arrows away...

Thanks for the words of sanity, Phil. Looking forward to the rest of the series!

Carla Rolfe said...

Seems to me there are more than a few that really want this to be a bloody cage match. Maybe they're bored with the status blog quo?

Either way, sorry to hear about your allergies - I'm the same way. I'd rather suffer the symptoms than take the meds. Although watching Rocky and Angel works for me any day of the week.

Steve said...

I can totally empathize with you on the allergies. I'm highly allergic to plant pollens, and 13 years ago we moved to a region in the Pacific Northwest which has the highest concentration of grass/sod farms in the world and thus in the springtime has the highest grass pollen counts per centimeter in the world. Allergy season runs from April 1 to July 1--and by July 1, I'm close to certifiably insane from the annoying agony of perpetual stuffiness, inability to breathe, and inability to sleep.

Among my fellow sufferers are some charismatics I happen to know, and the fact none of them have ever been healed of their allergy symptoms is one of my more offbeat arguments for cessationism. :)

Unknown said...

"I grew up in Tulsa, however, and the true roots of the charismatic movement are there, not in Geneva."

I don't know when/where the charismatic movement began for Protestants, but the Catholic charismatic movement began in Pittsburgh in 1967 (at Duquesne University, I believe).

David A. Carlson said...

You just need better drugs - remember - it's better living through better drugs.

Talk to your Dr. about Flonase or just try Claritin (an OTC)

This commercial is brought to you by a year round allergy sufferer.

Brad said...

What is the most significant, consequential truth God has revelealed to you or "spoken to you" beyond Scriptural text?

chamblee54 said...

What on earth is cessationism?
Someone might want to post a guide to the fancy language used by bible worshippers bloggers.

Udarnik said...

Benadryl = sleepy for me. Allegra = dopey. Zyrtec = powerful but sore all over. Claritin = the new drug of choice. My guess is you are allergic to molds... Get a good air filter for the bedroom... it will amaze you how much rest and relief clean air will get you, even if only for a few hours.

In the first place, cessationism was not even an issue I planned to raise in my current series of posts on false prophecy.

Sad to say, with many charismatics / pentecostals, the mere mention of examining prophecies will often trigger an extreme reaction... even if the one bringing up the subject is not a cessationist! It's as if they are allergic to 1 Corinthians 14 and the notion of weighing what has been said.

It comes with the territory.

theinscrutableone said...

As an occasional allergy sufferer, allow me to affirm that Benadryl is Not Nice At All, unless one wishes to take a twenty-four hour long nap. Also allow me to cast a vote for OTC Claritin, at least insofar as the freedom from drowsiness and most other side effects is concerned. On the other hand, I have had instances where Claritin didn't do much to alleviate my allergic symptoms, thus making me wonder why I bothered taking it. One of my pastors, a big-time sufferer of seasonal allergies, claims that Claritin sometimes needs to be taken for a few days before it kicks in, but my allergy bouts don't last long enough for me to make it worthwhile for me to take it for that many days.

A living witness that allergies, at least, didn't cease with the apostles, :-)


Steve said...

Contributing to what's been said about allergy medications, there's also Allegra-D, which is the most potent and effective one I've ever used. But when I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, he said Allegra-D was too dangerous, and that I'd better downgrade to Allegra. Claritin lost its effectiveness on my system after about 3 years of use.

Steve said...

Whoops. Left out a critical word in that last post. The "he" in the second sentence should be "my doctor."

MSC said...

I heard the MacArthur recently had Mahaney speak in the pulpit at GCC. Seems to me that SGM's focus on the centrality of the gospel and their passion for all things Biblical serves to provide a basis for the 2 groups to unite inspite of perhaps minor differences. My guess is, SGM/ Maheny's 'mild charismata' is not significant enough for GCC/ MacArthur to dismiss what is regarded as that which more importantly unites the 2.

marc said...


try google or wikipoedia on these subjects you can find all kinds of articles.

teach a man to fish...

Chris Freeland said...


I inherited the Johnson family tendency to be completely whacked by allergies. During college I had the average of 8 sinus infections a year - all due to allergies.

Then my doctor put me on Nasonex. You squirt it 2 times in each nostril, which is unpleasant, but I haven't had a sinus infection since.

If you just want something OTC, I recommend Advil Cold and Sinus. The other stuff (including Claritin) makes my teeth itch, but Advil C&S is amazing.

I know, I'm not a Doctor, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn last night.

Castusfumus said...

Come on out to Texas and we'll share our ragweed!!!

Jim Crigler said...

Somebody has to post a defense of Benedryl. I guess I'm elected. Of my own free will.

I grew up in the deep South and, with my three older brothers, took Benedryl (by prescription back then) for all kinds of histamine symptoms. ISTR Benedryl may have been created and/or manufactured in Memphis, originally. Now, to a Southerner, Memphis is not really part of the South, but is merely proximate. It's just ... Memphis. But I digress. One of my brothers would break out in a rash (we called it nettle rash) when he ate a lot of tomatoes (which he loved). The remedy? Benedryl. Bees stung me on my forehead once, disrupting my lymphatic system and swelling an eye shut. The doctor told me that had they hit a blood vessel, I would have had a black eye. The remedy? 25mg Benedryl (still in prescription in the early 1970s).

I'm not affected much by allergies (for which I'm grateful --- I have many friends God has smiled on in different ways, but in this, at least, I am content), but sometimes with a severe cold I'll still take Benedryl and drink lots of coffee and water. (I consider the extra coffee a side benefit, not a detriment.)

The active ingredient in Benedryl is the same as that in Sominex. Herein lies to the path to folks to save a little money. Just check the dosage.

FWIW, my wife is severely slowed down by Benedryl like many of the other folks here, and can only take it when she knows she won't be driving for about 12 hours.

Phil Johnson said...

Brad Meyer: "What is the most significant, consequential truth God has revelealed to you or "spoken to you" beyond Scriptural text?"

"Don't listen to the voices in your head."

Seriously, I hope to deal with this question more thoroughly in the days to come, but the short answer is this: My whole point is that Scripture is the only reliable lamp to our feet and light to our path. I'm not seeking (and would in fact be predisposed to reject) any "revelation" purporting to give me some truth I need for spiritual life and/or godliness that's extraneous to what is already set forth in Scripture.

We're given many commands to memorize and meditate on Scripture and order our lives by its precepts. But there's not one commandment anywhere in the Bible to seek out or follow private revelations.

I do believe the Spirit of God subjectively leads us, enlightens us, and at times impresses on our hearts a powerful persuasion that something is true. But I believe He always does this through the Scriptures, not apart from them or in addition to them. I believe the Scriptures alone are sufficient, without any necessity of new revelation. The Bible is a more sure Word than any subjective notion that may pop into my head.

In other words, I would affirm without reservation the words of the Westminster Confession of Faith on the sufficiency of Scripture:

"The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the word; and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the word, which are always to be observed."

That's not an oddball view I invented just because I don't like Pat Robertson. That's mainstream Protestant doctrine, and was almost universally affirmed by Protestants until charismatic teaching began to erode people's confidence in the sufficiency of Scripture, starting just slightly more than 100 years ago.

Russ said...

I'll second the comment above that you're probably dealing with a mold allergy, especially if you feel any problems when you visit Chicago (which is, essentially, tons of steel and concrete built on a moldy swamp). Allergies are cumulative - if your body is usually dealing with food allergies or environmental allergies but can handle them without much problem, a new allergen added to the mix can push you over the edge.

Sharad Yadav said...

I'm sorry to hear about your allergy problem, Phil! I have the same problem. At the risk of being a pest, may I suggest a drug called Alavert? It's worked wonderfully for me, and it's non-drowsy. It doesn't seem to have any noticable side effects for even the sensitive, like yourself (is that the first time you've ever been called sensitive?) - hope you find some relief, and looking forward to future posts!

Steve said...

Wait a minute on all this advice about allergy medications...wasn't Tiger Balm supposed to be the cure-all for everything? I suppose you'd have to convert it into a nasal spray...

Adrian Warnock said...

Hey there everyone! I have tried to answer the commentators question: "Whats a cessationist?" over at my place and questioned whether pyro has gone soft.....


Phil Johnson said...

Steve: Yes, I use liberal amounts of Tiger Balm as a remedy for the itching and tickling nose. It also helps somewhat to keep the nasal passages clear and breathable.

You don't want it in your eyes, however.

John Schroeder said...

You're right Phil -- Not much of a debate anymore. Blogotional continues the discussion here.

chamblee54 said...

Thank you Adrian for the commentary about cessationist and charismatic.
My opinion (overpriced at two cents) is that the first commandment forbids worshipping a book as the word of god. However, I do suspect that "gifts of the Holy Spirit" take place all the time, albeit in a non jesus worshipping context. I don't know what this makes me.
Btw, the spell check suggestion for cessationist is secessionist.

Chris Freeland said...

By the way Phil, didn't your mom teach you about Vicks Vapo-rub? I hear some members of your family actually consider it a delicacy. Considering your reputation for eating weird things, I'm surprised it hasn't caught on with you.

Carol said...

Oh dear.

Phil, I didn't read through all the comments, only enough to have to interject. Sorry.

Plants and plant pollen are harmless. Have you ever known one to carry a warning label? Who made them and for what purpose? Do you ever wonder why we react to them? And why our reactions grow more intense with each passing year?

It's because our immune systems are messed up.

Chemicals, on the other hand, are not harmless. That is why they have side effects and warning labels.

There is a better way. But you're going to have to nix the donuts, Friend.

Hoping you're doing better as I type this.