Reformed and Charismatic?

Monday, 22 Aug 2011

Thanks for the healthy debate and interaction on the previous post. Obviously, those who believe that miraculous prophecy continues after the apostolic age should not be lumped together with radical movements like the New Apostolic Reformation.  Nevertheless, it does provide an occasion to think carefully about the compatibility of Reformation theology with Charismatic emphases.  This is especially the case when there have been renewed calls for a “Reformed Charismatic” synthesis in our own circles.

I’ve never been willing to die on the hill of cessationism: that is, the belief that the miraculous gifts such as prophecy, healing, and tongues have ceased.  I’m still not.  Nevertheless, I am convinced that non-cessationism is neither exegetically sound nor historically compatible with Reformed theology. Furthermore, the surprisingly widespread popularity of more radical views of ongoing sign-gifts, coupled with political ambition, pushes me into the unpleasant position of challenging the views even of far sounder brothers with whom I agree on so many important points.

As a Charismatic Calvinist, Wayne Grudem has been used by God to bring the doctrines of grace to many who would likely not have encountered these truths otherwise.  I have immense respect for his clear defense of many cardinal doctrines of Christianity.  At the same time, the Calvinism-Charismatic bridge goes in both directions and his view of continuing prophecy has contributed to a curious hybrid that in my view cannot survive in the long run.  Reformed theology is a system—not one imposed on Scripture, but one that arises from the self-consistent Word of God.

Mark Driscoll, a student of Grudem’s, has recently claimed to have regular visions of the sinful—usually sexual—behavior of people he encounters. “I see things,” he says, although the gift he describes is nowhere exhibited even in the apostolic era.  Also posted on his Mars Hill website is a critique of cessationism as “modernistic worldliness,” lumping this view with deism and atheism.  “Functional cessationism is really about the mind, but functional charismatic theology is really about the heart.”  He concludes with a plea: “…you Reformed guys, especially you who are more Presbyterian, you tend to ignore the Holy Spirit and attribute everything the Spirit does to the gospel.” Sovereign Grace Ministries, led until recently by C. J. Mahaney, has also followed Grudem’s path toward a synthesis of Calvinistic and Charismatic emphases.

There is much to admire in these men and their labors.  I am not targeting these friends and brothers, but pleading with them—and with all of us—to rediscover the ordinary means of grace, ordinary ministry, ordinary offices, and to long for a genuine revival: that is, a surprising blessing of God on his ordinary ministry in our day. The false choice between head and heart, the Spirit and the Word, has been a perennial polemic of the radical wing of Protestantism.  Mark Driscoll’s plea above reveals that dangerous separation of the Spirit from his Word.  Only by assuming such a cleavage can one argue that Reformed theology ignores the Holy Spirit.

We have had enough “apostles,” “prophets,” and “Moses-model” leaders who build ministries around their own gifts.  We need to recover the beauty of Christ alone upon his throne as the Priest-King of his church, exercising his ministry by his Spirit through preaching, sacrament, and discipline in mutually accountable communion with the wider body of Christ.  Reformed theology is not just the “five points” and “sovereign grace,” but a rich, full, and systematic confession.  It’s a human and therefore fallible attempt to wrestle with the whole counsel of God—in both doctrine and practice, soteriology and ecclesiology.  Until we rediscover this richness, “Reformed” will mean “whatever my leader or circle believes.”

Of course, the biblical case that must be made cannot be made well in this brief space.  However, I’ll focus on the question of whether the gifts of prophet and apostle have ceased.  In Ephesians 4:7-16, the apostle says that offices prophets and apostles as well as pastors, teachers, and evangelists are gifts of his heavenly ascension.

Against both Rome and the radical Anabaptists, the Reformers argued that prophet and apostle are extraordinary offices, for a foundation-laying era.  They are sent at key moments in redemptive history, and their writings are added to the canon of Scripture.  Like the distinction between a nation’s constitution and its courts, the biblical canon is qualitatively distinct from ecclesiastical interpretation.  The former is magisterial (normative), while the latter is ministerial (interpretive).

Particularly in the wake of the Pentecostal and charismatic movements, this question has divided Christians into two camps: cessationists (believing that the gifts of healing, prophecy, and tongues have ceased) and non-cessationists.  Non-cessationists find no exegetical reason to distinguish some of these gifts and offices from others in terms of their perpetuity.  However, cessationists hold that the New Testament itself makes a distinction between the foundation-laying era of the apostles and the era of building the church on their completed foundation (1 Cor 3:10-11).  Although the New Testament establishes the offices of pastors/teachers, elders, and deacons, it does not establish perpetual prophetic or apostolic offices with their attendant sign-gifts.  With this in mind, we must examine each gift in question.

Paul treats prophecy (prophēteia) as preaching, which although illumined by the Spirit is (unlike the scriptures) un-inspired and therefore must be tested (1 Cor 12:29; 1 Thes 5:19-21).  At Pentecost, the gift of tongues was a Spirit-given ability to proclaim the gospel in languages that one had not been taught.  The diverse crowd of visitors to Jerusalem for the feast asked, “And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?” (Ac 2:8).  We should therefore understand “tongues” as synonymous with natural languages, which some were miraculously gifted to speak and others to interpret.  This served not only as a sign that Christ’s universal kingdom has dawned but as a practical way of disseminating the gospel from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.  None of these gifts was given for the personal edification of believers alone, but for the spread of the gospel and the maturity of the saints in that Word.

Similarly, the gift of healing was a sign that Christ’s kingdom had arrived, bringing a preview of the consummation in all of its fullness at the end of the age.  Yet signs always cluster in the Bible around significant turning-points in redemptive history.  Like the temporary prophesying of the elders in Moses’ day, the extraordinary gifts of signs and wonders are given to validate the sacred ministry of human ambassadors.  Once that ministry is validated, it no longer requires further confirmation.  (For an excellent treatment of this topic, see Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., Perspectives on Pentecost  (P & R, 1979), especially 94-95, in relation to Wayne Grudem’s contention that “prophets and apostles” in 1 Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11 refer to the same group.) It would seem, then, that the gift of prophets and apostles (along with the gifts of miracles, prophecy, and tongues) was given but fulfilled its foundation-laying function.  Just as Paul’s understudy Timothy is an ordinary minister, we find no evidence that his ministry was attended by extraordinary signs and wonders.

Some theologians, such as Wayne Grudem, recognize that the office of apostle has ceased, but are “unsure if this question” of the cessation of spiritual gifts “can be decided from Scripture.” [This and following Gruden quotes from his Systematic Theology, 906-912, 1031; cf. Wayne Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament Today (Westchester, IL: Crossway, 1988), 226-252.]

With Grudem I agree that 1 Corinthians 13:8-13, which speaks of prophecies and tongues passing away “when the perfect comes,” is inconclusive.  Paul is most likely referring to the consummation, when there will be no need for faith and hope and all that will endure into eternity is love (v 13).

However, I do not find Grudem’s case for continuing prophecy persuasive.  He clearly distinguishes prophecy today from the prophecy that delivered the sacred oracles of Holy Scripture.  This is both the strength and the weakness of his position.  Grudem believes that the kind of prophecy that is ongoing in the church is distinguished from preaching and teaching by being “a spontaneous ‘revelation’ from God….” (Grudem, Systematic Theology, 1058)

So the distinction is quite clear: if a message is the result of conscious reflection on the text of Scripture, containing interpretation of the text and application to life, then it is (in New Testament terms) a teaching.  But if a message is the report of something God brings suddenly to mind, then it is a prophecy. (Grudem, Systematic Theology, 1058)

In my view, this interpretation introduces a definition of prophecy that is not consistent with its practice in the apostolic church.  Nowhere is prophecy distinguished by its spontaneous quality.  Furthermore, in spite of his salutary caution against raising such prophecies to the level of Scripture, this interpretation still raises the question as to whether the Spirit issues new revelations that are not already communicated in Scripture.  If prophecy is defined simply as Spirit-given insight into Scripture, then is this not synonymous with preaching?

Today, the Spirit validates this ordinary ministry of the gospel through preaching and sacrament: the signs and wonders that Christ instituted to confirm his Word.  If it is true that the apostles understood their work to be an extraordinary ministry of foundation-laying and their miraculous signs as its validation, then “no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ….If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward” (1 Cor 3:11, 14, emphasis added).

While living stones are continually being added to the temple, the edifice itself is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone” (Eph 2:20).  As the person and work of the head is distinct from that of its members, the foundation-laying ministry of the apostles is different from the “up-building” ministry of their successors.

Where apostolic preaching became Scripture, our proclamation, faith, and practice stand in continuity with the apostles to the extent that they conform to that rule. To understand Scripture as canon, within its Ancient Near Eastern treaty background, is to recognize that, like the redemptive work to which it testifies, it cannot be revised by addition or subtraction (Dt 4:2; Rev 22:18-19).  While interpretations are always subject to change, the constitution has been given once and for all.

Similarly, the canon that witnesses to Jesus is the covenant that he ratified in his self-sacrifice.  In its appeal to this canon and its practice of its stipulated rites, the church participates in the heavenly reality as servant rather than Lord of the covenant.  Just as Jesus-history is qualitatively distinct from our own, the apostolic canon is qualitatively distinct from the subsequent tradition (or preaching) that interprets it.  One is magisterial, the other ministerial.  Just as the church does not extend or complete the work of redemption but receives, interprets, and proclaims it, the church does not extent or complete revelation.  The interim between Christ’s advents is not an era of writing new chapters in the history of redemption.  Rather, it is a period in which the Spirit equips us for the mission between Acts and the Apocalypse—right in the middle of the era of the ordinary ministry with its new covenant canon.  Just as the church cannot extend the incarnation or complete Christ’s atoning work, it cannot repeat Pentecost or prolong the extraordinary ministry of the apostles, but must instead receive this same word and Spirit for its ordinary ministry in this time between the times.

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Comments


  • 22 Aug 2011
    Benjamin Lovelace says:

    I wish I had read this ten years ago. It would have spared me alot of confussion.

  • 22 Aug 2011
    Chris says:

    Dr. Horton! You’re the man.

    A couple questions: Isn’t it true that in 1Cor 3.10 Paul is referencing the foundation he’d laid in a specific locale (or locales)? His work was to establish local churches on a firm foundation of the gospel, and doesn’t this work continue today as we continue to do the work of planting new gospel communities?

    The way I see it, Ephesians 4 describes the leaders God has given to do the pioneering work of establishing new Christian communities. I’m assuming you’d agree that we have not yet fulfilled the call to make disciples of all nations. If that’s true then it would make sense that these leaders will be needed for the building up of the church until the Lord returns or until all people have been reached with the gospel, whichever comes first.

    I suspect there are people in the church who may be gifted apostolically or prophetically but they are not using their gifts to expand and build up the church as described in the NT. Why? Because I believe, functionally speaking, we’ve collapsed the 5-fold gifting in Eph 4 into one office, the pastor, and we foolishly expect our pastors to fulfill all those roles. No wonder so many get burned out so quickly!

    Well, just some thoughts. Thanks for creating a forum for diving into such important subjects.

  • 22 Aug 2011
    bakerjrae says:

    Funny that I would have identified as a charismatic before Driscol’s post but now after all the clarity of all the responses (like this one) I find myself increasingly on the cessationist side. Another reason I have been questioning is the trash that keeps getting published as Christian. It seems every author has seen heaven or has a word that has been given by Christ. Thank you again for your clarity on subjects like this.

  • 22 Aug 2011
    Malcolm says:

    I just removed my family from a Reformed Charismatic church for the same reasons discussed in the article.I can’t see these two theological systems coinciding without serious confusion resulting. I grew up in a charismatic church, and now understand what I “experienced” was not biblical.Thanks to pastors like John MacArthur, I have a greater understanding of the charismatic movement.I see harm in any movement in the church that asserts extra-biblical doctrine.

  • 22 Aug 2011
    reza says:

    it appears our good brother is equating prophecy with preaching. which would be unfortunate b/c in 1 corinthians speaks about women prophecying and the only advice he gives is “make sure your head is covered” the obvious implication is that women were prophecying in the local church, so if we’re going to say that prophecy is simply teaching then we’ve got an airtight argument for egalitarianism. furthermore in chap 14 the corinthians are told that although they desire the gift of tongues he’d rather them ALL to prophecy. again james tells us all not to desire to be teachers, but here is paul telling all the believers in the church to desire the gift of prophecy. preaching/teaching/prophecy in the new T are obviously not the same thing

  • 22 Aug 2011
    Diane Roberts says:

    The problem here is what’s missing. In the 70s there was a (mainly middle class) neo-Pentecostal revival by people like Jack Hayford who held very Pentecostal services but had an excellent teaching of a more Reformation view of justification and sanctification. In other words, they didn’t blur them and teach you would lose your salvation if you blinked wrong. The teaching was exegetical and cross sentered. Revelation was not put above Scripture. Sadly, today, its more difficult to find a Pentecostal church that isn’t dead. Then there’s the Charismatic movement, heavily influenced by the Vineyard which morphed into the NAR Third-Wave Charismatic nonsense. TBN went from having very good and often academic Pentecostals and Charismatics on their Praise the Lord program when they started in teh late 70s to today’s clown show with the clown acts. No wonder you guys think we are all crazy. I wish that the Pentecostals (and a few Charismatics) that are “sane” could sit down with you and have a great theological conversation without the occultism, clown acts and over all goofiness and heresy.

  • 22 Aug 2011
    Paul Buckley says:

    I found your article a mix of incomplete exegesis, a strawman example in Mark Driscoll and anemic arguments from silence. Additionally, I find it divisive, undeserved, unnecessary and a-historical to deny the “reformed” label to many ‘”reformed charismatics”. I hope your readers will study more broadly before making up their minds.

  • 22 Aug 2011
    What I Read Online  08/23/2011 (a.m.) | Emeth Aletheia says:

    […] Reformed and Charismatic?  White Horse Inn Blog […]

  • 22 Aug 2011
    DJ Cimino says:

    Palmer Robinson’s book helped lead me out of SGM… it’s called The Final Word. Good stuff and he interacts with Grudem. Thanks for the article!

  • 22 Aug 2011
    John Samson says:

    So, Dr. Horton, may I ask you kindly sir to watch this very short video of Dr. John Piper: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bgs38_x1XJg&feature=player_embedded

    If men of God such as Dr. John Piper, Dr. Sam Storms, Dr. Wayne Grudem and many others read your article and still do not immediately repent and see things exactly as you do in this area, will you renounce them as being a genuine part of the reformed community? Is that where things are headed with all this sir?

  • 22 Aug 2011
    Reformed and Charismatic « Insomniac memos says:

    […] Horton argues for some careful thinking about the fusion of charismatic practices and Reformed theology in a number of contemporary settings. I generally concur. I think Id like a bit more […]

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Mark from Austin says:

    This was an interesting read Dr. Horton. What do you make of the charismatic reports of the Scottish Reformation? The “Scot’s Worthies” reports prophecies, the dead being raised and quite a few other phenomenal things done by great saints such as John Knox, George Wishart, Samuel Rutherford, Alexander Pieden (sp?), and a fee more I believe.

    I am also curious as to what you make of Paul’s own commands to “eagerly desire Spiritual gifts, but most of all that you should prophesy” and to “forbid not to speak in tongues?”. His descriptions of tongues also seems to allow for a function of tongues which is distinct from evangelism even if one grants that this is what is happening in Acts 2. I say that because it has long seemed to me that if read literally it seems that the miracle may very well be in the ears and minds of the hearers as much as the mouths of the Apostles.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Ben Thorp says:

    I think it’s unfair to suggest that Mark Driscoll “recently claimed” when the talk was from 2008, or to say that they are “usually sexual”, when he has shared on a number of occasions about a number of different incidents, most of which (to my recollection) were not sexual in nature. Equally, I suspect he would describe the gift as synonymous with a “word of knowledge”, which _is_ a scriptural term.

    Additionally, you talk about tongues, but focus only on Pentecost. If tongues were merely human language, and meant to be directly understood, then why does Paul talk about speaking in the ‘tongues of men and angels’, and advise the Corinthians not to speak so much in tongues because people won’t understand?

    Lastly, you state “Furthermore, in spite of his salutary caution against raising such prophecies to the level of Scripture, this interpretation still raises the question as to whether the Spirit issues new revelations that are not already communicated in Scripture. If prophecy is defined simply as Spirit-given insight into Scripture, then is this not synonymous with preaching?” but I fail to see how this is reflects properly on either the nature of prophecy in cases such as Agabus, or the full nature of preaching.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Kevin Rhea says:

    Prophecy is not equal with scripture. See Acts 21:9. The daughters of Phillip could not have had a scribe following them around and recording every word they prophecied as scripture.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Michael Acidri says:

    I wish I had read this before listening to Mark Driscoll’s visions.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Reformed and Charismatic?  via The White Horse Inn Blog | Pilgrimage to Geneva says:

    […] Reformed and Charismatic? Aug.22, 2011 by Dr. Michael Horton […]

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Aimee Byrd says:

    Funny, I’m writing about a similar topic on my blog this week and have really enjoyed digging into your book, The Christian Faith. I plan on quoting some excerpts from chapter four. You supply a much bigger picture of God’s Word than the “mystical suggestions” that many want to equate with revelation. I love all of your writings on God’s Word as “Divine Peosis,” creating what it speaks. When we get a better understanding of God’s Word, we become more humble about our own claims.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Reg Schofield says:

    Well said Dr.Horton. The problem always comes when you challenge someone concerning these issues. I have been told I doubt,lack faith and have put God in a box , which is not true at all. Driscoll’s so called ability to see things is highly questionable to my mind when examined by scripture but if the ordinary means of grace are not enough for people , they will look to the more “amazing”. At the heart of the matter to me is the sufficiency of the word.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Brian Waters says:

    Is there a typo in the second paragraph? Is Dr. Horton referencing cessationism as “neither exegetically sound nor historically compatible with Reformed theology?”

  • 23 Aug 2011
    I’ve never been willing to die on the hill of&. | KevStar.us says:

    […] Michael Horton writes&. I’ve never been willing to die on the hill of cessationism: that is, the belief that the miraculous gifts such as prophecy, healing, and tongues have ceased.  I’m still not.  Nevertheless, I am convinced that this position is neither exegetically sound nor historically compatible with Reformed theology. Furthermore, the surprisingly widespread popularity of more radical views of ongoing sign-gifts, coupled with political ambition, pushes me into the unpleasant position of challenging the views even of far sounder brothers with whom I agree on so many important points. […]

  • 23 Aug 2011
    george57 says:

    well top marks for this ,,i spent 6 years in Charismatic?”type church i loved it in that one would never fall asleep, never, we sing lots of songs,, clap hands till the blood came out,, danced and had a loving time,, what the problem was in contol by the pastor was lacking, instead of praising,,christ we praised the holy spirit,begging him to rain power,, and more power,, some services,, maybe christ got a little bit,, most of the time it was , out of control, people allowed to jump up and give a message ,,and we were to never to doubt ,,it WAS from GOD,people everywhere speaking in tongues ,, it was sad ,,only in the baptist church did the word get preached, and given,,so i moved to this church,, why,, to hear the word get preached,, gifts, in the this type of church are causing lots of confussion,,many false teachers hide away and teach lies+half-truths, then beg for money and more money,,to get rich,, with lots of fun,, never truth of the word,,god bless

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Kevin P says:

    I was very confused at the beginning when you wrote:

    “I’ve never been willing to die on the hill of cessationism: that is, the belief that the miraculous gifts such as prophecy, healing, and tongues have ceased. I’m still not. Nevertheless, I am convinced that this position is neither exegetically sound nor historically compatible with Reformed theology. ”

    Because it seemed like you were saying that “cessationism” was neither exegetically sound nor historically compatible with Reformed theology. But the “this position” you were referring to is “Reformed Charismatic”.
    Correct?

    • 23 Aug 2011
      Mark Vander Pol says:

      Kevin and Brian – Mike just asked to have the second paragraph edited to read, “Nevertheless, I am convinced that this position non-cessationism is neither exegetically sound nor historically compatible with Reformed theology.”

  • 23 Aug 2011
    kazooless says:

    I am Presbyterian, but I haven’t shed all of my Charismatic history (at least not yet). If you watch me, you wouldn’t every guess that I am no a cessationist.

    I have two points regarding this article:

    1. I think maybe the topic of healing seems to be out of place with the thrust of the article. Revelation from God, prophecy, the canon of scripture all have to do with tongues and prophecy, but maybe the argument about miraculous healings would be better served on its own.

    2. More importantly, I have not ever had anyone successfully convince me that the “woman at the well” type of revelation is the same kind of revelation that became canon. Personally, I have NEVER accepted the idea that contemporary revelation from God would be on par with scripture. Instead, I was always taught to test it against scripture, for that is our ruling stick.

    But where is the argument that says when you meet someone at a bus stop, God doesn’t any longer reveal things to a person to use as a personalized tool for sharing the Gospel and leading to Christ? I don’t see why that has to be considered “canon” and therefore it can’t happen anymore. If you can argue strongly from the scripture that indeed this type of revelation just can’t happen anymore today, then you might go a long way in convincing people like me of cessationism.

    kazoo

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Steve says:

    Yawn…I will stick to John G Lake, Smith Wigglesworth – lol

  • 23 Aug 2011
    scott price says:

    What I find interesting is that there is no Scriptural support for cessationism. I do not know what the right answer is, but the bottom line support I see in Mr. Horton’s argument is the “completed canon argument” which is not truly Scriptural support but merely an extrapolation and accordingly, no one should teach it as truth but merely helpful guidance. ( or maybe not so helpful if it’s wrong ). Why do we have such a problem with saying “I don’t know if the gift of prophesy continued because I’m not quite sure what you mean by prophesy?” Perhaps it isn’t all or nothing and perhaps just because it doesn’t happen now doesn’t mean it can’t happen, especially when Scripture doesn’t disclose a decree of God to that effect. Preventing abuse is not a good lens for interpreting Scripture.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Vince says:

    Great discussion! Could it be that the formal office of Prophet has been fulfilled and abrogated while the spiritual gift of prophesy (especially as Grudem defines “the report of something God brings suddenly to mind”)remains a legitimate means for Christ to communicate with His people? I’m not referencing the wacky stuff people say is “from God”, but stuff that is not contrary to Scripture in either precept or principle.
    Here’s a can of worms that I’d like to open. How do we understand reports from various people in unreached people groups who claim to have dreams and visions directly related to the gospel and their need of Jesus, prior to ever even hearing His Name or having any exposure to the gospel whatsoever?
    Fun stuff, thanks for the forum to share ideas! Let’s always remember though, that we are discussing secondary things at best, and though all truth is important, the Gospel is of utmost importance! “Walking in love” (Rom 14:15) in secondary things best demonstrates the gospel of grace.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Brad says:

    Mr. Samson, sir, I’d be happy to say without reservation that Grudem, Piper, et al. are not part of any “reformed” community that I know of. They do not adhere to any of the historic confessions. There’s alot more to being reformed that holding to the five points.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    John Frederick says:

    The same man who wrote Romans 9-11 also said “I speak in tongues more than you all.”

    Whether or not the gifts are in operation today is one matter, but certainly there was no tension whatsoever between reformed theology and charismatic practice in the first decades of the church. That’s just a fact. Using today’s terms anachronistically, the Apostle Paul was a Reformed charismatic. The question now is “would he be so today?” It is more than ok to ask that question, but it is not ok to divide over how someone answers that question.

    My concern is the big picture here – that to really start pushing this, it will inevitably bring a huge and very unnecessary division in the reformed camp. Charismatics wont be welcome at the reformed conferences anymore (and thousands of them do attend, believe me), either as speakers or even as people who attend – and if they do attend, they will be made to feel like total outsiders. That’s the only outcome, if things are pushed too far.

    Reformed charismatics such as John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Sam Storms and others have brought thousands of people into the reformed camp – there’s no doubt of that – and to throw them all under the bus would be a HUGE mistake.

    This issue is NOT something that would ever cause me to break fellowship — I do so with anyone who bends the knee at the cross. It’s ok to disagree. It’s ok to dialogue. But, to promote separation is not ok. And, that’s what this kind of article does…

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Around the Blog  Pure Church by Thabiti Anyabwile says:

    […] Reformed and Charismatic? Michael Horton offers some thoughts.  Felt timely for me after getting grilled by a recent guest to the island who describes himself as charismatic.  It was a good grilling, but Ill have to think about whether to invite him back or not.  If he had the gift of prophecy, hed already know  Anyway, Mike offers a charitable, clear, and in my opinion compelling look at the historic position on the miraculous sign gifts.  What often gets lost in these discussions is that most everyone is a cessationist and most everyone is a continuationist.  Nearly everyone in the pale of orthodoxy believes the apostolic office and gift has ceased, and that there are no current prophets speaking things on par with Scripture.  Thats a degree of cessationism.  But no one disputes the continuation of certain gifts, pastor-teacher, administration, helps, and so on.  The discussion really revolves around what to think about certain sign gifts like tongues.  Hortons discussion covers familiar ground but reminds us of some important historical distinctions. Categories: Apostle Paul, Around the Blog […]

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Brian Lee says:

    If you are one of the charismatic readers of this article and share some of the critical questions put forth in the comment chain, I’d like to second Dr. Horton’s recommendation of Gaffin’s book: Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., Perspectives on Pentecost (P & R, 1979). I am preaching through Pentecost and Acts and just re-read this volume and found it to be a clear, short, and insightful treatment of the issues.

    As Horton says, this isn’t the forum to exegetically defend his position. Do yourself a favor, pick up Gaffin and read it. It will be time well spent. He makes a patient and thorough exegetical argument for Horton’s position, in a very accessible and readable way.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    John Frederick says:

    It is indeed interesting that R.C. Sproul, Jr wrote this today – and I agree 100%:

    It is a sure sign that sin messes things up that we keep watching the same boxing match over and over again, between truth and unity. Both sides, of course, insist that they have a deep and abiding love for the other. They shake hands in the center of the ring, go back to their corners, wait for the bell and come out ready to destroy the one they love. In the stands we stand, screaming ourselves hoarse in defense of our favorite.

    Until recently unity has been on a hot streak. Charismatics, dispensationalists, YRR, and old school Reformed folk, post-mills and a-mils have managed to work together for the gospel. Blogs and conferences, magazines and books have born much fruit from cross-pollinating. We discovered that our brothers on the other side of this aisle or that do not actually have horns. We remembered that the beauty of what unites us is not only more important, but more potent than the nuances that divide us.

    But we should never count out truth, or at least our own version of it. Though it was on the ropes, like Rocky in the last few rounds, truth has shown a rare ability to take a punch, and come back strong. It has moved well past highlighting what separates charismatics from dispensationalists and this Reformed group from that, and has now got each camp engaged in its own civil war. Cessationism versus continuationism, neckties versus t-shirts, beer versus teetotalism have sparked fires that rage inside our own worlds.

    So what do we do? Can we get truth and unity to kiss and make up? Only if Christians learn to grow up. We need to not only learn to distinguish between primary and secondary doctrines/practices, we need to learn to value them accurately. Can we both agree that being wrong on baptism is not a damnable heresy, and also affirm that it is an issue that matters? Can I seek to correct my Baptist brothers in a way that speaks to them as brothers who are wrong on an important issue? And can I in turn hear with grace my Baptist brothers as they lovingly seek to correct my error on the issue? Can I be concerned that my charismatic brother is leaving open the door for false prophecy and at the same time understand that he is concerned that I am boxing in the Holy Spirit?

    I have an opinion on virtually every issue that is being argued on the internet. I think some positions being espoused are good, sound, biblical. I think others are fallacious, dangerous, and unbiblical. I know that whatever the Bible teaches, that is what’s right and true. And I know the Bible teaches that I am often wrong. It is not Rodney King that asks if we can all get along. It is Jesus asking, in His high priestly prayer (John 17). He is the Truth, and He calls us to unity. That comes in reflecting His character. He, even when He corrects us, is for us. He, even when we are wrong, loves us perfectly. He is lowly in spirit and will not break a bruised reed.

    We will not change until we choose our heroes not by how cogently or fiercely they defend our position on this issue or that, but by how much they reflect the grace of Christ whatever their position.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Mark From Austin says:

    I have read Gaffin in the book that takes 4 views and I found it to be entirely unconvincing. I still want to know why we ignore 1 Corinthians 13 which gives us a very precise chronology for when prophecy (i.e. “propheteo”) ends. It is bizarre to me that we ignore that in favor of unique interpretations or eisegesis. We know when prophecy ends and it is not in the 1st Century as so many desperately want to believe based upon their experiences.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Chris Van Schenck says:

    Great article,

    I and family just left a reformed Charismatic church for this issue. Just a couple points where I think that Mr. Horton is not correct on. 1st he says Paul treats prophecy (prophēteia) as preaching. The NT prophets receieved direct revelation. That’s different from preaching and its also why they were foundational offices. The office of prophet now may be the preacher – but they expound what has been revealed while the NT prophet received and spoke directly from God. Not so the preacher. 2nd – true prophets were inspired and could say “thus says the Holy Spirit” (as Agabus does) – we cannot say that now and Wayne G knows this. The reason Paul says to test the prophecies isn’t because NT true prophecy was uninspired – it is because there were false prophets in the churches.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Laurie says:

    I agree with what Brad said… Not sure why anyone would refer to Mr. Piper, Mr. Grudem, etc. as “Reformed”. This is an excellent discussion and one that needs to be had.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Destinations « Luggaged says:

    […] almost alway appreciate Mike Horton. Hes helped shape my thinking probably for two decades. Here he deals with the issue of extra-biblical revelation from the perspective of those of us who are […]

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Mark From Austin says:

    So what do you ladies and gentlemen do with the Scottish Reformers who received direct revelation and saw incredibly “supernatural” (for lack of a more precise word) things happen?

  • 23 Aug 2011
    John Frederick says:

    Mark,

    If Horton is consistent – then John Knox was not reformed enough! How crazy is that!!!!

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Glenn says:

    What should Christians in America do with the knowledge that the overwhelming majority of non-catholic Christians across the globe (Asia, South America, Africa) are Charismatic. Some pastors who travel internationally tell me they know of almost no churches that hold to cessationalism.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    John Frederick says:

    oh no!!! Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress – I guess we have got to throw that book out now too. Bunyan dreamed a dream. Non-cessationist poison!!

    Where do we stop?

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Erik L says:

    I do not think Horton is being unnecessarily divisive here. He is very clear to affirm that he holds the men who’s positions he challenges as dear brothers in the faith. My personal opinion is that the post was by and large written with a gracious tone, and that it reflects a good combination of both unity (which I am sure he has with men like Grudem!) and friendly challenging. We should not just give up on trying to make our views more biblical because that might be viewed as divisive. As someone who would consider himself a “Reformed Charismatic” (reformed obviously taking the smaller meaning of 5 point Calvinist here) I felt challenged and encouraged by this post, and not attacked.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Pete says:

    I think the case for or against the charismatic position cannot definitely be made from the Bible. I’m happy to accept it is a grey area. However, the historical view has always been cessationist, at least before pentecostalism appeared on the scene.

    However, we’re told to test the spirits, and the claims of charismatics and pentecostals do not stack up. Tongues has been shown to be unstructured gibberish that is psychological in origin and prophecies that come to pass are notable by their absence. So it seems far more likely that charismatics are deluded and cessationism is the right approach.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Mark From Austin says:

    Pete, you analysis is painfully simplistic and ignores a host of evidence from the entire church age that the gifts were oftentimes in operation and not rejected throughout the church age as you claim. What do you make of the many claims of supernatural revelation from the Scottish Reformation? Do we choose to consider many of the great Scottish reformers to be “deluded?”

  • 23 Aug 2011
    scott price says:

    Given that the gifts were Scripturally established and, as one writer has said, the gift of prophesy would end when the perfect has come, is it not incumbent upon anyone claiming cessation to establish clearly by Scripture that something has changed? I acknowledge abuse, but that isn’t a foundation for cessation but a charge of sin. Reformed tradition aside, what does Scripture say. Otherwise, division formed by tradition is an attmept to destroy the temple of God ( his church ). Not a good thing if I read Paul in Corinthians correctly. I have never claimed any of the spectacular gifts nor seen them so my point of view is strictly to focus on the Word.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    John Frederick says:

    John Piper:

    “What time is referred to when Paul says, “Prophecies . . . will pass away.” Has it already passed away or will it pass away at some future time?

    The next two verses (9-10) give the reason for why prophecies and knowledge will pass away: “For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect (literally: For we know in part and we prophesy in part); but when the perfect (or: mature, complete) comes, the imperfect (or: partial) will pass away.” So the reason prophecies will pass away is that a time is coming when the partiality and incompleteness of the gift of prophecy will be replaced by perfection and completeness and wholeness.

    When is that time?

    One respected tradition says that the coming of perfection or completeness refers to the coming of the day when Scripture is complete, that is, when the last inspired writings are gathered into the Bible and the canon of Scripture is closed. Let me quote from one of these writers whom I highly respect:

    “When Scripture is completed, then the church will have revelation thoroughly suited to her condition on earth. Our completed Bible is perfect in the sense that it is utterly sufficient revelation for all our needs. Paul is saying, “When the sufficient comes, the inadequate and partial will be done away. Tongues will vanish away, knowledge [and prophecies] will cease at the time that the New Testament is finished.”

    So when verse 10 says, “When the perfect comes,” they say it means, “When the perfect New Testament comes.” Is that what Paul means by perfect?

    The other view says that the coming of the perfect refers to the experience of perfection at the return of Christ.

    So you see what is at stake in these two interpretations. If the coming of the perfect in verse 10 refers to the finishing of the New Testament, then the gifts of prophecy, tongues and knowledge have all passed away because that time came 1900 years ago. But if the coming of the perfect in verse 10 refers to the second coming of Christ then the natural understanding of the text is that the gifts will continue until Jesus comes.

    Let’s test these two suggestions by the rest of the passage.

    In the next verse (11) Paul says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” Paul compares the experience of partial prophecy and knowledge to the experience of childhood, and he compares the passing away of these gifts to the experience of adulthood. That comparison doesn’t seem to decide the issue for us.

    Let’s go to the next verse. Verse 12: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.” Now this is really helpful in making our decision! Here in verse 12 Paul is describing what verse 10 refers to, namely, “when the perfect comes.”

    I want to make sure that you see this. Notice the contrast in verses 9 and 10 between “our knowledge is imperfect” (v. 9) and “when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away” (v. 10). Then drop down to verse 12 and notice the same contrast in the second part of the verse: “Now I know in part” contrasts with “then I shall understand fully.” So verse 12 is clearly describing the coming of “the perfect” referred to in verse 10.

    Now does the description of the coming of the perfect in verse 12 fit with the second coming or with the completing of the New Testament?

    Let’s take the two halves of the verse one at a time. First it says, “Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.” Is it more likely that Paul is saying, “Now before the New Testament is written we see in a mirror dimly, but then when the New Testament is written we shall see face to face”? Or is it more likely that he is saying, “Now in this age we see in a mirror dimly, but then when the Lord returns we shall see face to face”? In the Old Testament there are half a dozen references to seeing God “face to face”. Revelation 22:4 says that in heaven we shall see God’s face. 1 John 3:2 says that when Jesus appears we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is.

    My conclusion is that the contrast between seeing fuzzily in an old mirror made out of metal and seeing face to face is not a contrast between first century spiritual knowledge and the knowledge we have from the New Testament today, but rather it’s a contrast between the imperfect knowledge we have today in this age and the awesome personal knowledge of God we will have when the Lord returns.

    The second half of verse 12 points in the same direction. It says, “Now I know in part (the very same words used at the beginning of verse 9); then I shall be understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.” Now is this a contrast between before and after the New Testament or before and after the second coming?

    It’s hard for me to imagine Paul or any of us saying that after the New Testament was written we now in this age understand fully, even as we have been fully understood. This surely refers to knowing in some sense the way God knows us—not omniscience; it doesn’t say we will know everything. But we will “be freed from the misconceptions and inabilities to understand (especially to understand God and his work) which are part of this present life . . . [Our knowledge] will contain no false impressions and will not be limited to what is able to be perceived in this age.”

    So my conclusion on this question is this: Paul is saying that prophecies will pass away not when the New Testament is completed but when this age is completed at the second coming of the Lord from heaven. That’s when “the perfect comes” (v. 10). That’s when all speaking and thinking and reasoning like a child will be put away (v. 11). That’s when we will see “face to face” (v. 12a). That’s when we will “know fully even as we have been fully known” (v. 12b).”

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Darren says:

    John F.
    It seems that Horton has already stated that he largely agrees with Grudem and Piper on the exegesis of 1Cor 13. Instead of dismissing his position as crazy, and perhaps a thoughtful consideration of the other evidence may help in treating the cessationist case with a bit more respect even if you still disagree.

    I’m not sure that Bunyan expected his dream would be treated as divine inspiration (although I’m open to be shown that I am wrong on this count). But I don’t see Horton trying to throw anyone under the bus. He’s willing to be friends, brothers and co-laborers in Christ with Lutherans, Methodists… plenty of non-reformed types. Suggesting that a belief is not reformed is not meant to be taken as an insult.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Mark From Austin says:

    Darren, I don’t see how John treated anyone’s position as crazy. He was quite respectful. But if Horton (and Piper and Grudem and Fee etc) all agree that 1 Corinthians 13 is not talking about the closing of the canon and if we have no other viable alternatives for what Paul IS talking about in 1 Corinthians 13 save Judgment Day and the culmination of all things, then what we have in 1 Corinthians 13, by clear exegesis, is an argument for the continuation of the gifts (all of them). I don’t see how that take is even controversial.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Paul says:

    ” . . . prophecies, the dead being raised and quite a few other phenomenal things done by great saints such as John Knox, George Wishart, Samuel Rutherford, Alexander Pieden . . . ”

    Mark — I don’t believe these things happened and I don’t believe they are happening anywhere in the world today. If somebody knows where these things are occurring, please say so. I’ll contact “The Amazing” James Randi and collect the million dollars.

    There’s a reason why nobody has ever collected the million dollars. It isn’t because God can’t do this things, it’s just that He isn’t.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Paul says:

    It is true that Mark Driscoll talked about his “visions” in 2008. However, the video in which Driscoll testified about “seeing things” seems just to have become noticed last week. I’m wondering why it took three plus years for this thing to surface.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Pete says:

    Mark, I am with Paul in this regard. I do not regard extra-biblical literature (of any age) as reliable and I think all claims should be treated as suspect. I’m sure you are aware that just three years ago, a large part of the church was getting very excited over a “revival” in Florida where it was reported that tens of thousands of people were healed and 30-odd people were raised from the dead. But it was all lies. The track record in this area is appalling and I see no reason to believe anything unless there is incontrovertible proof, which has never been forthcoming so far. There are numerous verses in the Bible telling us to exercise discernment and I simply do not see the sign gifts operating today.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Daniel Chew says:

    @Mark from Austin:

    check out the book “The Westminster Confession of Faith and the Cessation of Special Revelation” by Garnet Howard Milne It proves that the Scottish Reformers were NOT pre-Azusa Charismatics and were by and large cessationists, albeit with a strong sense of providentialism and apocalyptism.

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Charlie J. Ray says:

    I spent over ten years in the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement. There is a lot of talk about the sovereignty of God and “sovereign moves of the Holy Spirit”, etc. However, the theological roots of the movement are in the Wesley holiness movement and Wesley’s theory of a second grace called “entire sanctification”. While some might say I’m committing the genetic fallacy, I have to think that anyone who is Reformed cannot possibly believe a theology that is inherently synergistic. God certainly does not need our help to heal or do miracles.

    I might also point out that my move away from Pentecostalism came when I read D.R. McConnell’s book, A Different Gospel. It was that book that pointed out that the Charismatic theology of healing and prosperity has its origin in E.W.Kenyon’s syncretism of Christian Science with his Baptist faith. Kenneth Hagin then plagiarized Kenyon. Sadly this theology is now ubiquitous within the Charismatic movement. Thus, Mike Horton’s point above that the “Reformed” Charismatic road runs both ways is a valid one. In other words, otherwise orthodox Calvinists can be led into out and out heresy because of the so-called “Reformed” Calvinist movement. I for one do not buy it whatsoever.

    I might point out that healing and miracles are unverifiable and unfalsifiable for all practical purposes since most of the “proofs” for these so-called ongoing gifts, signs and wonders are based on anecdotal stories and “evangelistic” exaggerations, an inside joke among Pentecostals themselves.

    Yes, I studied Pentecostal theology first hand at Southeastern College of the Assemblies of God, now Southeastern University. I’ve practiced all the “gifts” at one time or another. I no longer believe these “gifts” were authentic or even supernatural. They were a cheap attempt at duplicating the genuine article reported in Scripture.

    Sincerely in Christ,

    Charlie J. Ray

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Linkathon 8/24, part 1 | Phoenix Preacher says:

    […] 10  Michael Horton on the the compatibility of Reformation theology with Charismatic emphases&#8…. […]

  • 23 Aug 2011
    Mark From Austin says:

    Paul, the issue strikes at the very heart of how we accept any historical testimony. You are calling into question the testimony of some of the great Scottish Reformers who reported these stories.

    If this is the same Daniel Chew, then he and I have debated on another thread on facebook and he desperately doesn’t want to look at the Scottish Reformation stories, but they are reported very plainly in The Scot’s Worthies. I am not sure on what basis we would reject them unless we just assume an anti-supernatural hermeneutic for anything outside of Scripture itself. I struggle to understand the logic or reason in that choice. Why would we assume a Supernatural God ceased to act Supernaturally once He gave us a book?

    From looking at the description of this book I found this: “In the opening chapter of the Confession, the divines of Westminster included a clause that implied that there would no longer be any special immediate revelation from God. Means by which God had once communicated the divine will, such as dreams, visions, and the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, were said to be no longer available. However, many of the authors of the WCF accepted that prophecy continued in their time, and a number of them apparently believed that disclosure of God’s will through dreams, visions, and angelic communication remained possible. How is the cessationist clause of WCF 1:1 to be read in the light of these claims? This book reconciles this paradox in a detailed study of the writings of the authors of the Westminster Confession of Faith.”

    It seems to me that it was generally accepted that God did indeed still speak apart from Scripture (i.e. extra-biblically) but never in contradiction to it. This is my position and it seems to be the Biblical position. Scripture is our standard, but God still speaks outside of Scripture.

    Once again, I implore you all to address I Corinthians 13 for me. What does it teach? No one has tried to argue that it teaches anything other than the fact that prophecy ends when the end comes. The end has not come (i.e. we don’t “know fully”) so we can safely say that according to Scripture, prophecy has not ended.

    If we are indeed Protestants who uphold Sola Scriptura, then why will no one respond with Scripture? The arguments are based upon experience (Charlie Ray for example) or lack of experience (many of the rest of you). What does Scripture actually teach us and are we willing to be obedient?

    I would say that it is noteworthy that right after Paul tells us when prophecy will end he says this: “Eagerly desire spiritual gifts, but most of all that you should prophesy.”

    So what does this mean? And let’s please dispense with any foolish notion that “propheteo” actually means the preaching of the word. If Paul had wanted to say that he could have, he used a word that is pregnant with meaning and it does not mean preaching.

  • 24 Aug 2011
    Alisdair Smith says:

    Sorry, but this article essentially boils down to a dogmatic opinion piece that “prophecy doesn’t continue because I, and others, haven’t ever experienced it.”

    God shows each of us different levels of grace. To say that the truly prophetic does not exist because there are lots of fakers (and I agree there are plenty!) is just as logically fallacious as saying there is no true version of Christianity because there are lots of false teachers.

    That does not mean however that I believe the role of prophet as such exists. I don’t think we can ever assume that everything or even anything coming out of the mouth of someone alledging modern day prophecy is from God. We have the bible as the measuring stick agaist which to compare. If prophecy is genuine it will accord with truth and it will not contradict a consistent understanding of Scripture. However, I don’t think prophecy has ever really worked that way in that something is true simply because it was utterred by a prophet. “Spontanious” (from the human perspective) is exactly the right word that describes how the Holy Spirit works it, and Grudem’s analysis exactly describes my own experience. The raw power and the certainty of the experience is what can’t be described accurately to another, but it must always accord with truth as the enemy fights on this battlefield too, hence demonically inspired false religions.

    The constant danger for the one who prophesies is that he thinks he is special because he has been chosen to deliver it, when he is merely the recipient of grace. It’s only through submission to scripture that the prophetic word can be established and it’s only through humble obedience that the prophetic word can be shared, when the time is right. the prophet should be working the revelation through with fear and trembling and then proclaim it boldly. It is with cautious testing that it should be judged, lest we be led astray and deceived.

  • 24 Aug 2011
    Pete says:

    One thing that really helped me develop my views on this topic was studying religious experience and psychology. I realised how people can easily have religious experiences that appear completely real to them but are simply a product of the mind. Such experiences are not unique to christianity but found in most other religions. Hence I concluded that experience, be it contemporary or historic, isn’t reliable.

    @ Mark from Austin,

    The traditional exposition of 1 Cor 13 is that the sign gifts ceased at the completion of the NT canon or with the deaths of the apostles. This view has only begun to change because pentecostals and charismatics have gone round claiming that they have these gifts. I believe that these people are generally sincere but deluded (a few are just crooked).

    @ Alisdair Smith,

    We can argue forever about what the Bible teaches, but we won’t get anywhere. The only way of judging the theology is to see if it works in practice. Charismatic and pentecostal theology doesn’t work.

  • 24 Aug 2011
    Sean Gerety says:

    Some excellent arguments, however I you surrender decisive exegetical ground when you concedes that 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 “is most likely referring to the consummation….” The coming of “the perfect” is a reference to the completion of the canon, not the Parousia (see James 1:25). See also Victor Budgen’s *The Charismatics and the Word of God.* I realize this is a minority position even in Reformed circles (it was Edward’s view), but the arguments in its defense I think soundly trump the standard view. For example, will “knowledge” really pass away when Christ returns? I don’t see why? I would hope we all would come to continually know more in glory than we do now.

  • 24 Aug 2011
    Al Shaw says:

    Thanks for a positive contribution to the debate. Two quick responses:

    1. “Paul treats prophecy (prophēteia) as preaching”. Really? Agreed that both are to be tested, but is there any other evidence that the apostle saw the two as synonymous? How do you make sense of Luke’s statement that Philip had four daughters “who prophesied”? Were they female preachers?!

    2. The view that tongues at Pentecost was essentially “gospel-preaching” in un-taught languages is a common claim in Reformed circles. But it seems to differ from Luke’s description of the speakers “declaring the wonders of God”. This compares with Paul in 1 Corinthians describing the one speaking in tongues as “uttering mysteries in his spirit”. Both descriptions imply tongues to be a language of worship directed heavenward, rather than a didactic message directed primarily at human beings (whether converted or otherwise).

  • 24 Aug 2011
    Pete says:

    @ Al,

    In response to your second point, there is debate as to whether the corinthian tongues were the same as those in acts. However, everything in 1 Cor 12/14 says that tongues must be used in an orderly fashion with interpretation afterwards. That basically doesn’t happen today and the pentecostals/charismatics seem unwilling to address it.

  • 24 Aug 2011
    scott price says:

    The spirit of prophesy is the testimony of Christ. We should be clear to distinguish all forms of prophesy. Some were signs and wonders types to lend credibility to the authority of the speakers, some prophesy was for creation of the prophetic word of Scripture, others were to certify that the Gentiles were included in the New Covenant, and others were to simply bring others into the Kingdom like when Peter was filled with the Spirit and spoke boldly words that were clearly not his own. The discussion of continuation should be in the context of all these possible manifestations of the spirit in prophesy and not an all or nothing analysis. The debate gets lost because we fail to distinguish.

  • 24 Aug 2011
    Ben says:

    Mark Driscoll’s “word of knowledge” doesn’t sound too much different from a well-known Baptist preacher in the 19th Century:

    “While preaching in the hall, on one occasion, I deliberately pointed to a man in the midst of the crowd, and said, ‘There is a man sitting there, who is a shoemaker; he keeps his shop open on Sundays, it was open last Sabbath morning, he took ninepence, and there was fourpence profit out of it; his soul is sold to Satan for fourpence!’ A city missionary, when going his rounds, met with this man, and seeing that he was reading one of my sermons, he asked the question, ‘Do you know Mr. Spurgeon?’ ‘Yes,’ replied the man, ‘I have every reason to know him, I have been to hear him; and, under his preaching, by God’s grace I have become a new creature in Christ Jesus. Shall I tell you how it happened? I went to the Music Hall, and took my seat in the middle of the place; Mr. Spurgeon looked at me as if he knew me, and in his sermon he pointed to me, and told the congregation that I was a shoemaker, and that I kept my shop open on Sundays; and I did, sir. I should not have minded that; but he also said that I took ninepence the Sunday before, and that there was fourpence profit out of it. I did take ninepence that day, and fourpence was just the profit; but how he should know that, I could not tell. Then it struck me that it was God who had spoken to my soul though him, so I shut up my shop the next Sunday. At first, I was afraid to go again to hear him, lest he should tell the people more about me; but afterwards I went, and the Lord met with me, and saved my soul.’”

    “I could tell as many as a dozen similar cases in which I pointed at somebody in the hall without having the slightest knowledge of the person, or any idea that what I said was right, except that I believed I was moved by the Spirit to say it; and so striking has been my description, that the persons have gone away, and said to their friends, ‘Come, see a man that told me all things that ever I did; beyond a doubt, he must have been sent of God to my soul, or else he could not have described me so exactly.’ And not only so, but I have known many instances in which the thoughts of men have been revealed from the pulpit. I have sometimes seen persons nudge their neighbours with their elbow, because they had got a smart hit, and they have been heard to say, when they were going out, ‘The preacher told us just what we said to one another when we went in at the door’” (The Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon, [Curts & Jennings, 1899], Vol. II, pp. 226-227).

    Read more at:
    http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article/gifts-in-church-history/

  • 24 Aug 2011
    Alisdair Smith says:

    @Pete “Charismatic and pentecostal theology doesn’t work.” I agree, which is why I don’t believe it.

    I’m a reformed Presbyterian from Scotland who reckons that Calvin and Knox got it pretty much spot on, so I don’t think we’d argue all that much about how to interpret the Bible. I believe the whole canon of scripture is verbally inspired, and so to know the mind of our God who inspired it, we must be thoroughly rigorous and absolutely diligent in our efforts to hold a consistant view of all of scripture. From what I can see so far in my walk, only reformed theology comes close. As an example I value the strict exegetical rigour of someone like James White.

    “I realised how people can easily have religious experiences that appear completely real to them but are simply a product of the mind.”
    Agreed. God created us as physical beings for a reason. I think the Holy Spirit is able to interact with that physiology at will. I think it’s one of the ways He’s able to guide our thoughts, to help us concentrate harder on a particular passage or to see things in the world He wants us to see. It stands to reason in a fallen world that it might be possible for other physical conditions to occassionaly impact on the same parts of the brain that God makes use of to interact with us. Just because there are “naturally” occuring religious experiences, I’m sure you would have to conceed that it does not logically follow that the real thing is not possible. I’m reliable informed there are currently three “Jesus’s” sitting in a ward of my local mental hospital. A surprisingly high percentage of mental illness has religious component, yet we agree this does not detract in any way from Christianity being true.

    “Such experiences are not unique to christianity but found in most other religions. ”
    If it is true that the Holy Spirit can use our physiology as one way He chooses to communicate with us, it would stand to reason that false religions would set out to mimic this truth as closely as they could, to create a false physical reaction in God’s creation, the body, in whatever way possible. Take, for example, that scientific study that showed nuns praying activated a certain part of the frontal cortex. This brain activity was able to be mimicked closely by Buddhists in an extended trance. It wouldn’t surprise me if Muslims repeating the call to prayer 5 times a day is designed to be the constant repetition of a mantra to self program their brains using a form of NLP technique. The prayer procedure they follow (head down on the ground for extended periods) is certainly designed to have a side effect of sending all the blood rushing to the front part of the brain. I would suggest that both the Buddhist and Muslim practices are actually just designed to falsely engender a similar physical reaction in the brain that a born again Christian with a regenerated mind and renewed heart can access instantly, simply by praying.

    “Hence I concluded that experience, be it contemporary or historic, isn’t reliable.”
    I agree to a point. Experience on it’s own is worthless, which is why we have the Bible as a measuring stick, to search to see that these things are true. Experience can be misleading if our theology is incorrect. Yet it’s not a logical to conclusion that experience is not reliable. Theology matters. Theology is key, yet when experience accords exactly with sound theology, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.

  • 24 Aug 2011
    Pete says:

    @ Ben,

    One problem with your story from Spurgeon is that nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Sabbath is Sunday!

    @ Alisdair Smith,

    You said:

    “If it is true that the Holy Spirit can use our physiology as one way He chooses to communicate with us, it would stand to reason that false religions would set out to mimic this truth as closely as they could, to create a false physical reaction in God’s creation, the body, in whatever way possible. Take, for example, that scientific study that showed nuns praying activated a certain part of the frontal cortex. This brain activity was able to be mimicked closely by Buddhists in an extended trance. It wouldn’t surprise me if Muslims repeating the call to prayer 5 times a day is designed to be the constant repetition of a mantra to self program their brains using a form of NLP technique. The prayer procedure they follow (head down on the ground for extended periods) is certainly designed to have a side effect of sending all the blood rushing to the front part of the brain. I would suggest that both the Buddhist and Muslim practices are actually just designed to falsely engender a similar physical reaction in the brain that a born again Christian with a regenerated mind and renewed heart can access instantly, simply by praying.”

    I’m sorry but I can’t accept this conclusion. It requires too many assumptions.

    How do you know that what was happening in the nuns’ brains was the result of the Holy Spirit? I’d say that they were simply programmed and conditioned to have such an experience, just like the muslims and buddhists you describe. Nothing to do with God or the Holy Spirit, simply the brain playing tricks on you. And studies have shown that atheists can be made to have similar experiences by using the right psychological techniques. Psychoactive drugs can also have the same effect.

    I’ve seen charismatics use your argument for why their speaking in tongues is the same as pagan speaking in tongues!

    I think the view that say all religious experiences are a product of the mind is much simpler and fits the facts on the ground perfectly.

  • 24 Aug 2011
    Alisdair Smith says:

    That’s fine, Pete. As long as you recognise that your opinion is informed by your personal experience of the Holy Spirit in as much as my opinion is informed by mine. You’re obviously not claiming that yours is the only legitmate Christian experience.

    “I think the view that say all religious experiences are a product of the mind is much simpler” – it’s too simplistic – Stick Occams razor back in your pocket. 🙂

  • 24 Aug 2011
    Al Shaw says:

    @Pete

    Tongues are routinely interpreted in the reformed charismatic churches I have been part of for the last 30 years. We must have been moving in different circles.

    Agree that there is a discussion to be had about tongues in Acts 2 and 1 Cor 12-14.

  • 24 Aug 2011
    Mike Horton says:

    For the most part, this has been a great discussion. First, let me add a little to my argument for the cessation of gifts that I believe are distinctive of the prophets and apostles. One respondent included a link to John Piper’s comments on the subject. I checked that out and would affirm everything that he said there. We don’t know what God decides to do in his sovereign freedom, only what he has promised to do in his Word. God is indeed not “in a box.” However, he has bound himself to work ordinarily through the means of grace: preaching and sacrament.

    People can tell all sorts of interesting stories about extraordinary visions, miracles, and prophecies. Can some of them be genuine? Sure. God can to whatever he chooses to do, just as he can save whomever he chooses to save—including children who die in infancy, or the mentally handicapped, or other extraordinary cases. However, the extraordinary cases are beyond us. We have to rely on what God has promised to do ordinarily. My argument in no way addresses whether, for example, the Spirit reveals something to an unreached people group to prepare them for the preaching of the gospel. The question I address is whether we have, on God’s verbal authority, any reason to expect such things where the means of grace are available.

    Historically, brothers and sisters committed to a Pentecostal/Charismatic ministry need to realize that they are standing on the radical Anabaptist side of the Reformation debate, and the reformers were as opposed to this movement as they were to Rome. The Reformed as well as Lutheran confessions are explicit in their rejection of the Anabaptist positions. That doesn’t settle the debate, of course, but it certainly does define what the Reformed view actually is. The White Horse Inn isn’t just a Reformed group. And it’s certainly not a church—no membership, no excommunication! So bring your questions and challenges and let’s search the Scriptures together in love and charity. Simply to make the case is not to be divisive; it’s just to make a case.

    Mike

  • 24 Aug 2011
    Concierge 11.08.24 | Pulpit 2 Pew says:

    […] *  Reformed and Charismatic? […]

  • 24 Aug 2011
    Paul says:

    Mark from Austin wrote:

    “Paul, the issue strikes at the very heart of how we accept any historical testimony. You are calling into question the testimony of some of the great Scottish Reformers who reported these stories.”

    Mark, I am indeed calling that testimony into question. That doesn’t make those making the claims bad people, nor does it besmirch those reporting. I just don’t accept their testimony.

    But let me narrow it to what I am particularly interested in — the raising of someone from the dead. I think most everyone in this discussion can agree what it means to rise from the dead more so than they can agree on what it means to prophesy.

    Claims of the dead being raised are not uncommon today. They usually hail from far away places like Africa. As I said before God, can do anything any time He wants. But I don’t believe He is raising people from the dead today and I don’t believe the devil is either.

    Jesus never had His miracles refuted by some very bright people alive in the first century. In one instance, after Jesus raised a man from the dead, the Pharisees wanted to kill that man along with Jesus! These things happened right there, out in the open, for all to see. Jesus even invited Thomas to inspect his wounds as evidence the He was indeed risen from the dead.

    Where is the evidence for us to inspect regarding the dead being raised today? As I said before, there are people willing to pay big money to examine claims like this.

  • 24 Aug 2011
    Fr. Robert (Anglican) says:

    I too will take the effort of the theological road, i.e. the doctrine of God! (Theo-logos) Here I will go with Luther, Calvin, and even Karl Barth, over the Holy Scripture. Though the latter is surely not infallible, he is closer to essence of the Reformers in my opinion. And that would always be ‘Word & Spirit’. Indeed the “charisma” is ‘gift & grace’, from God In Christ!

  • 24 Aug 2011
    David Barnes says:

    Will someone please define ‘reformed’ for me? I have had many conversations with people who seem very clear about what it means and then I find there are points of difference with others who are equally clear that they are reformed. speak as one who has served as an elder in a Presbyterian Church and also completely convinced on reading Grudem on Prophecy that the full range of spiritual gifts are avialable to the church today

    • 24 Aug 2011
      Mike Horton says:

      Great question David. The classic, textbook definition of “Reformed” is those churches that adhere to the Scriptures as they are summarized, taught, and confessed in the Three Forms of Unity (Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and Canons of Dort) and the Westminster Confession and Catechisms. In the last few years, the definition has changed in some circles, to encompass all those who affirm the five points of Calvinism–regardless of how one differs with the confessional position on other important points.

      While Arminian Baptists hail from the Anabaptist movement, Calvinistic Baptists were mostly Congregationalists who abandoned infant baptism. At no point did Calvinistic Baptists identify themselves as Reformed, any more than Reformed and Presbyterian believers identified themselves as Baptist.

      So that’s the history, which ought to be respected even if one wishes to challenge it. To say that one is Reformed, while excluding the children of believers from the covenant of grace (signified and sealed in baptism), is as inaccurate as to say that one is a Baptist, while denying immersion and adult-only baptism.

      I think that a better umbrella term for what many today mean by “Reformed” is actually “evangelical” (in the best sense) or perhaps “Reformational.”

      The point in all of this is not to exclude others, but to defend the integrity (i.e., wholeness) of the Reformed confession. It holds together. You can’t just pick out a few doctrines. That’s true of any other confession and churches have the responsibility to put a check on the democratic-egalitarian tendency to create our own hybrids. We confess the faith together, rather than creating our own combinations from a smorgasbord of options.

      At the White Horse Inn, we appeal to C. S. Lewis’s image of “mere Christianity” as the hallway of a great house. In the hallway all who trust in Christ, affirming the ecumenical creeds, mix and mingle and welcome visitors. However, we can only live in actual rooms, where we’re bathed, clothed, fed, and cared for. We believe that evangelicalism is that hallway and the White Horse Inn hosts as well as Modern Reformation writers happily join in this hallway fellowship and common witness. However, our churches–and distinct confessions–are the rooms. We need to get out of our rooms, to breathe fresh air, learn from others, and share in works of mercy and outreach.

      Nevertheless, the tendency of evangelicals is to turn the rooms into the hallway as if it were the whole house. Now that some are calling this hallway “Reformed,” there is increasingly no actual place that the Reformed room occupies in the house. Why can’t we let Lutherans be Lutherans, Baptists be Baptists, Pentecostals be Pentecostals, and Reformed folks be Reformed–while meeting up on occasion in the hallway? We’re going to still keep doing that and, whatever room you live in, we hope to see you in the hallway.

  • 24 Aug 2011
    Mark From Austin says:

    Ok, so I am still confused here. Protestant Magisterium aside, what does the Scripture actually say? To say that “that which is perfect” was the closing of the canon is an outdated and paltry interpretation of 1 Corinthians 13. Gordon Fee thoroughly dismantled that argument 24 years ago in his Commentary on 1 Corinthians. Besides that, to call this the “traditional” understanding of 1 Corinthians is incredibly shortsighted. To my knowledge this is a rather novel understanding of that passage historically, but regardless it just doesn’t follow from good exegesis. If the canon is “that which is perfect” then we should “know fully” and we should “see clearly.” I don’t think either of these tests have been met remotely.

    I am also curious about this: Do those of you who believe the gifts have ceased believe that we are to “eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially that you should prophesy?” If not, why not?

    Furthermore, I think the ultimate logical outflow of the cessationist position was well described by Jack Deere as functional Deism. If God is no longer able to communicate except through a book, then we have a relationship with a book and not with God. That is not what Jesus came to restore. Scripture is the standard and the means, but it is not the goal or the aim. The goal and the aim is a restored relationship with God as Father. To stop at Scripture is to fall short of the goal.

  • 24 Aug 2011
    Mark From Austin says:

    At last report, I heard that by 2020 80% of Christians in the World would be considered “charismatic.” I don’t remember if that number included Catholics or not, which obviously is incredibly important to the figure, but I just can’t recall.

  • 24 Aug 2011
    Richard says:

    I would highly recommend D.A. Carson’s book “Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14.” Carson’s exposition is a devastating argument against the cessation of the gifts but he also expresses concerns over the current practice of tongues and prophecy in many charismatic church today.

  • 24 Aug 2011
    Paul says:

    Where is the gift of the working of miracles operating in the world today?

    I graduated from Oral Roberts University. During that four year stint, in addition to hearing Oral Roberts, I often sat at the feet of Brother Kenneth Hagin during his Bible seminars. During those years, I heard lots of great stories about miracles, signs and wonders. I heard the speculation that wonderful miracles are no doubt occurring in the remotest parts of the world even as we speak. But I haven’t seen any hard evidence.

    If miracles such as those that occurred in the Bible are occurring today, why is it so hard to document them? The cessation argument has been around for a number of years. It would seem to me that hard evidence of a modern day miracle would force those in the cessation camp to modify their position.

    BTW, the James Randi Million Dollar Challenge has $1.2 + million in the account. Mostly fixed income. That means he has that million dollars in there accruing interest for quite a while. Randi is an atheist and he is calling the bluff of those who claim that miracles are at work in the earth today.

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Sean Gerety says:

    @ Mark From Austin. I think you’re confused about a few things.

    First, and at least as far as I can tell, it is a minority position within the Reformed community that views “the perfect” in 1 Cor. 13:8-13 as the complete and closed canon.

    Second, I find it hard to believe that Gordon Fee “thoroughly dismantled” the arguments in favor of this position 24 years or ever. You simply saying he did is not an argument.

    Third,it would grammatically odd to refer to Christ in the neuter gender “το τελειον” (the perfect thing) rather than the masculine o τελειο (he who is perfect). Is Christ referred to as the perfect thing anywhere else in Scripture? The argument is that Paul is anticipating that all the extraordinary gifts of prophesy, tongues, new revelatory knowledge will cease, not continue, with the coming of the complete revelation; ie., the close of the canon. The extraordinary gifts refer to to the church in her infancy which is why Paul tells us there will come a time when we are to put away these “childish” things. Further, when Paul concludes stressing “faith, hope, love” will abide, if this were a reference to Christ’s return why hope? Doesn’t Paul tell us in Romans 8:24 that “hope that is seen is not hope”?

    I understand why Charismatics cling to the traditional view of this passage as the end of the age, for if that is the case the clear implication is that prophesy, tongues and special words of knowledge (apart and in addition to those already inscripturated)will continue until Christ returns. If so why then abide in faith, hope and love? Shouldn’t we also continue to abide in prophesy, tongues and special words of knowledge? If that’s the case the contrast Paul is making is destroyed and the passage makes no sense.

    There are quite a few other arguments in favor of this “minority” position, but I think the standard one is full of too many exegetical holes.

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Pete says:

    @ Paul,

    I agree with you completely. Isn’t it interesting that the claimed “miracles” always happen in far-off lands where no-one can check if the stories are true or not!

    (Having said that, the internet now makes lying a lot harder. There was a case recently where Bill Johnson’s church posted a report on their website about some supposed resurrections in Brazil. Someone from Brazil saw the report and was able to confirm that it was all false).

    The truth is that charismatic and pentecostal christians need miracles to validate their theology. So they don’t view claims with suspicion. It’s sad that atheists like Randi have more discernment that so-called “spirit-filled” christians.

    I’d love to be able to say that God was doing miracles today. But there is no evidence that He is. So I just accept that and believe in Him all the same. That’s what’s faith is about.

    If people like Robert, Hagin, Wimber, Hinn, Cerullo, Bentley, who are exemplified as models of charismatic christianity, are not doing miracles, then somehow I don’t think anyone else is. The whole movement is based on a false premise.

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Sean Gerety says:

    Mark from Austine writes:

    “At last report, I heard that by 2020 80% of Christians in the World would be considered “charismatic.” I don’t remember if that number included Catholics or not, which obviously is incredibly important to the figure, but I just can’t recall.”

    IMO this is the biggest danger of the entire Charismatic movement and it is the blurring of theological lines to the point where Roman Catholics, provided they are “charismatic,” are also viewed and counted as Christians. I can’t tell you how many charismatics I’ve met over the years, even my own sister, who just assume their Catholic charismatic friends are Christians for no other reason that they too have shared a similar mystical experience. IMO your statistics, if correct, are merely proof that we are living in the new dark ages.

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Sean Gerety says:

    @ Paul. Good points all, however, you write:

    “It would seem to me that hard evidence of a modern day miracle would force those in the cessation camp to modify their position.”

    I don’t see why as I would think Jesus’ warning in Mark 13:22 and Matthew 24:24 about false christs and false prophets coming with great “signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect” would come into play, and should come into play even now.

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Mark From Austin says:

    Sean,

    I appreciate your candor. I agree with you, the interpretation of 1 Corinthians 13 being put forth by cessationists on this blog is indeed a minority position historically. I was not in any way challenging that. I was merely pointing out that even if it were not a minority position, it doesn’t matter as we believe in Sola Scriptura and not some Protestant “Magesterium.” If you read the entire discussion, you will see some on this blog were claiming that this was the “historical” position. While I agree that it is a position held by some in history, it is not the “historical” position in the sense of being the majority position.

    As for Gordon Fee’s critique of the cessationist interpretation of 1 Corinthians 13, you can read it for yourself and see what you decide. I will let you know why your points are not at all helpful for establishing the cessationist position. But I should also mention that it was my Theology professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, a thoroughly convinced cessationist, who told me that about Fee’s work. He told me that back in 1998 or 1999.

    Now for your points about 1 Corinthians 13:

    I never said that 1 Corinthians 13 was specifically referring to Christ. I believe it is referring to the culmination of all things. We might call that judgment day, the eschaton, or even just the full manifestation of the Kingdom of God coming. Regardless, all of those 3 alternatives to seeing it as “Christ” easily explain why it is not necessary that “το τελειον” need to refer to Christ in order for a continuationist perspective to have merit. This makes the next argument in your chain unmeritorious.

    Your next point is quite interesting. Paul says that “These 3 remain, faith, hope and love.” I am 2,000 miles away from my Fee commentary on Corinthians, but that will be a fun one to dig into. I would quickly point out that I am sure Eternity is filled with “hope” because while we will be seeing present realities fully, God is “unsearchable” and eternal, so I am sure there will always be hope for what is yet to be revealed by God about His nature. I imagine Faith too will be something that we never cease to have. In other words, satan was clearly able to fall in eternity and therefore lacked Faith, while the 2/3rd host of heaven that didn’t fall remained faithful (i.e. “full of faith”) in God.

    I suppose the question I would be curious to hear you answer is do we now “see fully” or “know fully?” I don’t think the closing of the canon can begin to answer that question in the affirmative. Those realities (i.e. seeing fully and knowing fully) seem to be very much set in my future.

    To answer your final point about faith, hope and love, I would merely argue that Paul is reminding us that while in the church age we have prophecy, tongues and revelation, the most essential gifts (or fruit) to be seen in all ages is faith, hope and love. That will remain true throughout eternity.

    I have honored you by answering your question, I would love for you to answer mine. Do you think we are supposed to “eagerly desire spiritual gifts, but most of all that you should prophesy?” If not, why not?

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Mark From Austin says:

    Oh…and Sean, I was specifically NOT blurring the lines between Catholicism and orthodox Christianity. The very reason I mentioned that I wasn’t sure if that number was including Catholics or not (and subsequently added “which obviously is incredibly important to the figure”) is because I DO see an important distinction to be made. I would be far more impressed with that figure if it did not include Catholics, but since I can’t recall, I was candid and reported that fact. I am not sure how you interpreted my candor about the statistic as being a “blurring of theological lines” but that was not my intention and is not my mind on the matter. I say that as one married to a former Catholic who didn’t know Jesus from a hole in the wall.

    I am also curious as to how the form of Christianity being put forth by cessationists varies from classical Deism? If God is now silent apart from the Bible, then what is a “relationship” with God apart from just a classification of the fact that you have made Him your Lord (by which you mean, you have decided to submit yourself to the Word of God since He himself only now directs you through Scripture itself)?

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Ian says:

    Mike,

    The confessions and catechisms are not innerant and authoritative. “The Faith” is not found there. “The Faith” is found in the Word. You reformed guys lose me when you run to the confessions (I do respect them). I think the problem in this discussion really is found in what it means to be “reformed”. Perhaps even the label is unnecessary?
    I don’t believe in the cessation of the gifts but I don’t call myself a charismatic.

    Ian

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Fr. Robert (Anglican) says:

    Even those of us that are somewhat cessationist, are so toward the so-called ‘sign-gifts’, and miracles. But never toward the reality of the ‘Shekhinah glory’ and presence of God! Indeed God is God, as Luther said, and HE can do what He pleases! But, I am proudly.. can I say: Reformed and Anglican!

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Fr. Robert (Anglican) says:

    Btw, the Ecumenical Councils & Creeds are “authoritative”, within the historical Church Catholic/Reformed (at least for real Anglicans), but indeed only God and His Word are Infallible!

    *Note Luther was a Nicene homoousios..In Christ he maintained, we are confronted by God Himself, for Christ is ‘very God’!

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Alisdair Smith says:

    Ian,

    In essence, the Confessions are just an attempt by previous Christians to set down in a systematic way what the Faith is that they found in the Word, and they were usually formalised against a backdrop of error that they were looking to counter and address.

    If you want to know what our forefathers actually believed, and how they interpreted scripture, there is no better source.

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Ian says:

    Robert,

    “Even those of us that are somewhat cessationist, are so toward the so-called ‘sign-gifts’, and miracles”

    I don’t see where the Bible makes that distinction when it addresses the gifts.

    Alisdair,

    Is there anything stopping the Reformed to add to the confessions? just thinking outloud here ….. like the Minnesota COnfession of 2011.

    Ian

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Fr. Robert (Anglican) says:

    @Ian,

    The Ecumenical Councils and Creeds, at least perhaps the first five Councils (5), are hardly only “just” for historic Churchmen! You might want to see how the history of the Trinity of God itself was hammered out, note the 2nd century Monarchianism, which was a reaction against the Logos theology of Justin Martyr, and other apologists. But of course Monarchianism was later rejected by the First Council of Constantinople. See perhaps J.N.D. Kelly’s classic book here: Early Christian Doctrines. And yes Kelly was an Anglican, but a certain Christian and fine scholar. And note too later some of Tertullian’s trinitarian works, especially his: Against Praxeas.

    Concerning the ‘Gifts’ of the Spirit, again, this is a long and certainly a tough issue or subject, but I will theologically follow the more classic cessionist lines, though hopefully as I said, always seeking to let God be God! I have lived thru both the Catholic charismatic movement, and even before the Anglican version, (70’s & 80’s). And I have seen the movement falter, both practically and theological in my opinion. So we should live that issue there! 🙂

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Fr. Robert (Anglican) says:

    *leave

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Sean Gerety says:

    [[I was merely pointing out that even if it were not a minority position, it doesn’t matter as we believe in Sola Scriptura and not some Protestant “Magesterium.”]]

    Fair enough. I thought you were arguing that the minority position which I subscribe to was the traditional historic Protestant position and it’s not. Of course, if revelatory knowledge continues beyond the close of the canon, then I would think that greatly undermines the doctrine of sola scriptura at least as understood historically by Protestants. In fact, ongoing revelatory knowledge is key to the authority claims of the Magesterium in Rome, and, interestingly enough, RCC apologists make many of the same arguments as do charismatics in support of their belief in things like the imagined infallibility of church tradition and ex cathedra papal pronouncements.

    [[As for Gordon Fee’s critique of the cessationist interpretation of 1 Corinthians 13, you can read it for yourself and see what you decide. ]]

    That’s true. I can. And, maybe I will at some point. But you brought him up. I brought up Victor Budgen’s The Charismatics and the Word of God, but at least I’ve tried to articulate some of his arguments in support of my own position (which, fwiw, I didn’t have until I read his book). I used to think the perfect coming was a reference to the coming of Christ in judgement.

    [[I never said that 1 Corinthians 13 was specifically referring to Christ. I believe it is referring to the culmination of all things. We might call that judgment day, the eschaton]]

    I did make reference to the Parousia above, so perhaps we’re just taking past each other here.

    [[I would quickly point out that I am sure Eternity is filled with “hope” because while we will be seeing present realities fully, God is “unsearchable” and eternal, so I am sure there will always be hope for what is yet to be revealed by God about His nature.]]

    OK, I’ll grant that. But then you would agree that revelatory knowledge isn’t going to cease in glory as we will grow in the knowledge of God as he reveals Himself to his now sinless creatures, right? But Paul said knowledge would cease, so it would follow that if the perfect is a reference to the close of the age or judgment day, then there would be no additional knowledge to follow. I don’t see how that follows?

    [[ I imagine Faith too will be something that we never cease to have. In other words, satan was clearly able to fall in eternity and therefore lacked Faith, while the 2/3rd host of heaven that didn’t fall remained faithful (i.e. “full of faith”) in God. ]]

    Being faithful and having faith are not synonyms, even though the former can and should result from the latter. Also, I certainly agree that while we abide in faith, hope and love certainly love will continue throughout eternity. The question really has to do with when and why prophesy, miraculous tongues and new words of knowledge (divinely revealed propositions) will cease. If they haven’t ceased, then how can anyone presume the canon is closed? Maybe we should be adding new revelations to God’s Word despite John’s warning in Revelation.

    [[I suppose the question I would be curious to hear you answer is do we now “see fully” or “know fully?” I don’t think the closing of the canon can begin to answer that question in the affirmative. Those realities (i.e. seeing fully and knowing fully) seem to be very much set in my future. ]]

    I don’t see why this is particularly difficult as the picture Paul is drawing is one of the partial in comparison to the whole. Paul was entrusted with a portion of the NT canon as were the other writers. He didn’t posses the whole canon. Another illustration might be Paul and the other apostles only had pieces of the puzzle. Seeing fully is a reference not to seeing someone or something with the eyes in your head, but with the eyes of your mind. This is why the writers of the Westminster Confession refer to the meaning of Scripture as being one and that all the various parts of Scripture from Gen to Rev perfectly and logically cohere. Even the great Paul could not see that, even though he certainly anticipates it in this passage.

    [[I have honored you by answering your question, I would love for you to answer mine. Do you think we are supposed to “eagerly desire spiritual gifts, but most of all that you should prophesy?” If not, why not?]]

    Thank you. I think what is true of Paul’s immediate audience prior to the close of the canon is one thing, and what’s true of us today since God’s complete and full self-revelation has already been given is quite another. No, you should not seek to prophesy in the sense of speaking new propositional revelations from God any more than you should desire to speak in miraculous tongues. There is no new propositional revelation from God. God has spoken in His Word and His Word is closed. However, properly interpreting Scripture and drawing out valid implications even as you perhaps do the arduous work of learning to communicate the truths of Scripture and the Gospel in another language should certainly be pursued.

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Sean Gerety says:

    [[ I would be far more impressed with that figure if it did not include Catholics, but since I can’t recall, I was candid and reported that fact. I am not sure how you interpreted my candor about the statistic as being a “blurring of theological lines” but that was not my intention and is not my mind on the matter.]]

    I appreciate that. But, I think you would have to agree that many Charismatics DO blur those lines and for good reason. If a Roman Catholic has been given the gift of the HS, or so we’re told, and, say, speaks in tongues, then for many that become a sign that they too have received God’s “anointing” despite what they may believe about the finished work of Christ, not to mention what they may believe about Mary or the pope himself. To suggest that such a person is not a believer, a Christian, would be to question the very work of the HS. I’m glad you’re not one of those Charismatics, but I assure you they there are out there and in droves.

    [[I am also curious as to how the form of Christianity being put forth by cessationists varies from classical Deism? If God is now silent apart from the Bible, then what is a “relationship” with God apart from just a classification of the fact that you have made Him your Lord (by which you mean, you have decided to submit yourself to the Word of God since He himself only now directs you through Scripture itself)?]]

    What, if God does not speak to me with new revelations and I’m content with those things God has seen fit to set down in Scripture along with those things necessary deduced from them makes me a Deist? I don’t see how that follows. Don’t we come to know the Lord and all His work from the Scriptures alone? As I’m sure you know, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” What more could any Christian possibly need?

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Mark From Austin says:

    We are splintering in too many directions, so I am going to be brief. If you made a particular point you would like me to address, merely mention it and I will do my best. But I fear we are adding so many branches to the discussion that we may both become overwhelmed (or at least I will) with what it would take to respond and cease responding altogether.

    Do you think all revelation from God is equal to Scripture? Should it all be written down and considered at the same level authority?

    To be clear about Catholicism, I do know that there are many Catholics who are true Christians even though I believe them to be terribly in error about things like Mary and salvation by Faith alone (as you and I would mean that phrase not as they try to claim to agree when they don’t). I am thankful that I am not the judge, but I do believe (and even know) some Catholics who are truly redeemed. That raises the very thorny issue of “what is necessary” for salvation? If we believe that what is necessary is that God has redeemed us by His choice and we have understood our sinfulness and our need for a Savior who is found in Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. So I think that allows for a lot of Christians with terrible theology, as much as I personally don’t like that fact. Although, I am simultaneously VERY grateful as I am quite confident that I am wrong about some things that I am convinced I am right about. So I praise God for mercy.

    As for things ending…it seems the purpose and function of “tongues, knowledge and prophesy” will all be radically changed or ended altogether in eternity. It is generally thought that “knowledge” is a particular revelation of something at a particular time and for a particular purpose. I don’t think it is just “knowledge” in the generic sense. Obviously tongues and prophecy are even easier in this regards. I think that it makes great sense that those 3 gifts would end in the eschaton, while “these three remain, faith, hope and love.”

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Mark From Austin says:

    oh..your last question was quite poignant. i think you are making great points, but you are asking the wrong questions. i agree that we don’t “need” anything else. but to me it is not so much a question of what we need as it is a question of what God promised us and what God desires. if Jesus came to restore relationship between man and the Father, then relationship is what we are after. I am not at all clear how reading Scripture is a relationship. certainly, it is a critical part of knowing about God, but the Pharisees are an excellent example of a people who knew Scripture inside and out (far better than any of us on this blog no doubt) yet missed the Word Incarnate when He showed up. knowing Scripture is no substitute for knowing God and it seems that what Jesus said to his Apostles applies, in principle, to all of us: “My sheep know my voice and hear it.”

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Mark From Austin says:

    If i merely read letters from my wife to me and took them very seriously and studied them, parsed them and debated about what she meant at different points, but never spoke to her or let her speak to me, it seems my relationship with her would be quite crippled in many meaningful ways. how does a cessationist make major life decisions? is it by just doing their best job guessing what God would want based upon their reading of Scripture? don’t get me wrong, i don’t always have clear words from God about what is next (nor do I need them) but there are times when God directs me fairly clearly about what is next. it seems that a relationship requires some form of ongoing communication that can’t be fully satisfied by Scriptures alone, as absolutely critical as they are to a healthy walk with God.

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Freebird says:

    Sean,
    Concerning your last comment, I’m a bit confused.
    [What, if God does not speak to me with new revelations and I’m content with those things God has seen fit to set down in Scripture along with those things necessary deduced from them makes me a Deist? I don’t see how that follows. Don’t we come to know the Lord and all His work from the Scriptures alone?]
    Jesus says specifically that He goes to be with the Father to send Mr. H.S. who will lead us into truth. Elsewhere Paul states that the Holy Spirit leads us to repentance. I completely agree that God’s word is a part of this, but it is the tool used by the Holy Spirit. Would you define conviction as extra-biblical revelation or is this unction in it’s own special class?

    I would like to point out to both Horton and other commenter that the text does not define “spiritual gifts.” Paul actually says that he is speaking to what is spiritual. Gifts is in italics every time but once because it does not appear in the manuscript. The introduction in Corinthians 12:1 says that he does not want the reader to be unaware of what is spiritual.

    Early church leaders such as Polycarp and Ignatius had bizarre happenings in their life, and early church fathers uphold these as facts. And the councils were put together by these men, which are upheld to this day. If I can’t trust church history then I must start completely over using scripture, and if I did either I still don’t think I can would be fully into cessation.

    I’m new to posting like this, so any polite comments on how I might better shape my thoughts would be appreciated

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Sean Gerety says:

    [[Do you think all revelation from God is equal to Scripture? Should it all be written down and considered at the same level authority?]]

    Why wouldn’t it be if it were really from God as Charismatics claim? Of course, Peter said that in Scripture we have the prophetic word “made more sure,” but if God has indeed spoken then He has spoken.

    [[To be clear about Catholicism, I do know that there are many Catholics who are true Christians even though I believe them to be terribly in error about things like Mary and salvation by Faith alone (as you and I would mean that phrase not as they try to claim to agree when they don’t). I am thankful that I am not the judge, but I do believe (and even know) some Catholics who are truly redeemed. ]]

    That’s interesting, because there is no justification for any sin apart from faith alone. This is the doctrine that Luther rightly identified on which the church stands or falls. If a person doesn’t believe that Christ’s death alone, completely apart from themselves and apart from anything wrought in them, is insufficient to cleanse them of their sin, then I have a hard time seeing how they might be considered a Christian regardless of how religiously pious they might appear. Those are people for whom I fear for their souls. After all, Paul’s harshest words are reserved for self-styled “Christians,” the Judiazers, who similarly argued that faith alone is not enough to save a man but one must perform acts of evangelical obedience, in this case circumcision, in order to be a true Christian. The point is they must do something. Paul had no problem judging such teachers and even damning them to Hell. So one what basis can you claim to know those who are “terribly in error about things like Mary and salvation by Faith alone” are yet truly redeemed? Is this by some private revelation or is it just a feeling you have?

    [[As for things ending…it seems the purpose and function of “tongues, knowledge and prophesy” will all be radically changed or ended altogether in eternity. It is generally thought that “knowledge” is a particular revelation of something at a particular time and for a particular purpose. I don’t think it is just “knowledge” in the generic sense. Obviously tongues and prophecy are even easier in this regards. I think that it makes great sense that those 3 gifts would end in the eschaton, while “these three remain, faith, hope and love.”]]

    But you admitted that knowledge will not end in eternity. You said, “God is “unsearchable” and eternal, so I am sure there will always be hope for what is yet to be revealed by God about His nature.” Also, who thinks knowledge, even in this context, is “a particular revelation of something at a particular time and for a particular purpose”? Wouldn’t God revealing additional truths about His nature in heaven be a particular revelation of something at a particular time for a particular purpose? I think it would be.

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Sean Gerety says:

    [[if Jesus came to restore relationship between man and the Father, then relationship is what we are after. I am not at all clear how reading Scripture is a relationship. certainly, it is a critical part of knowing about God, but the Pharisees are an excellent example of a people who knew Scripture inside and out]]

    Yet, Jesus demonstrates time and again that they, the Pharisees, really didn’t know, much less believe, the Scriptures. Further, the only way to get to know anyone is when they reveal something about themselves. God has done so in His Word. I can hope to know nothing about God or His attributes or His purposes apart from Scripture. The assumption you make is that you can and implied in your remarks is that the Scriptures, by themselves, are insufficient for what you believe is central to the Christian faith which is a relationship. How is that not directly undermining the very idea of sola scriptura?

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Sean Gerety says:

    @ Freebird. No, I wouldn’t define conviction as “extra-biblical revelation or is this unction in it’s own special class. I would define conviction as a firm or fixed belief. But, maybe I’ve misunderstood your question?

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Fr. Robert (Anglican) says:

    As has been noted, we have opened-up several “cans” here, but we simply cannot solve this on an open blog. I am Reformed, and I love Luther also, but again he is not infallible either. And in reality, the Church can only stand or fall upon the “Person” of Christ! And this is really the essence of Matt. 16:16-20, etc. Note, 1 John 4:1-3 / 2 John 7-9 ; see too verses 4-6 in 1 John 4, and there we can see also the great impact of loving God and each other..7-23.

    I am certainly Reformed on the Doctrines of Grace myself, but the great doctrine of Justification must be sought itself in the Holy Scripture, and the Reformed Creeds help us here, but again as even John Frame has reminded us they are confessions of the faith, but again not that faith itself. They must always be a subordinate authority, to the authority of the Word of God itself, in ‘Spirit & Truth’.

    Btw, this might be a good time to fly my wee bit of a flag for the Federal Vision. I am still very close to Federal Calvinism, but I am also close somewhat (note I said somewhat) to the the Federal Vision, and here I speak really more as an Anglican, that is certainly Reformed.

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Sean Gerety says:

    You certainly did opened a can with the Federal Vision admission. Perhaps it explains your unease with Luther on the question on which the church stands or falls. Just a thought.

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Fr. Robert (Anglican) says:

    Sean,

    I really love Luther, I did my D. Phil. way back when, on Luther’s Ontology of the Cross. So Luther is a great Reformer, as is Calvin (who I love also). But no one is infallible, save Christ and the Apostles! Note I am also the old man here at 61, so be kind! 😉

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Fr. Robert (Anglican) says:

    Note, I read and like Barth too.. 🙂 But believe me I am a Calvinist! Btw, speaking of Barth, he is like a modern Church Father to me, but again, I can be very critical of him! Just seeking to express myself as to sources I read, etc. The Christian theolog must be a seeker of truth!

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Mark From Austin says:

    ” for which cause also his [Christ’s] true disciples having received grace from him use it in his name for the benefit of the rest of men, even as each has received the gift from him. For some drive out demons with certainty and truth, so that often those who have themselves been cleansed from the evil spirits believe and are in the church, and some have foreknowledge of things to be, and visions and prophetic speech, and others cure the sick by the laying on of hands and make them whole, and even as we have said, the dead have been raised and remained with us for many years. And why should I say more? It is not possible to tell the number of the gifts which the church throughout the whole world, having received them from God in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, uses each day for the benefit of the heathen, deceiving none and making profit from none. For as it received freely from God, it ministers also freely.

    Against Heresies, 2, 49:2

    That was late 2nd Century and is Irenaeus speaking. The notion that the gifts of the Spirit ended at the end of the 1st Century or with the death of the Apostles is foreign to history, although I agree that they have been largely neglected by the body of Christ.

    So if anything God says is equal to Scripture, where are the words of Philips daughters who were called “prophetesses?” What were the words of Saul when he fell down and prophesied along with many others right before him in the same story?

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Tom Hardy says:

    Like Dr. Horton I am not a full fledge Cessationist.
    I thought Dr. Horton was very fair concerning the issue. The position he took will take some criticism from both Non-Cessationists and Cessationists. Mainly because his position while closer to Cessationism than Non-Cessationism, never the less does not fully embrace Cessationism.
    As a former Pentecostal I know all too well from experience how experience dictates how one should read Scripture in that system. Of course no Pentecostal would admit this, but that is the reality. This is one of the main issues that lead me out of Pentecostalism. I am not a person who believes that all Pentecostals are non-Christians. In fact I believe my old Pentecostal pastor was a very sincere Christian who believed what he taught and practiced was Biblical. I mention my old Pentecostal pastor mainly because of a truth he stated that God used to eventually lead me out (much to his chagrin I am sure) of the movement. He said during a sermon:
    “Do not believe something just because I or someone else said it! Believe it only because the Word of God said it!”
    I have been out of that movement for approximately 25 years now; and have not come to a firm position other than to say that I would be convinced of Cessationism if I became convinced that the Scripture passages that Cessationists use to prove that gifts such as prophecy, tongues and healing could be reasonably proven in my mind.
    That being said, in practice I might as well be a Cessationist.
    One of the main reasons for this is because of the subjective nature of Charismatic practices. When I was a Pentecostal I believed I spoke in biblical tongues. Three things influenced this, one Charismatic interpretation of relevant passages. Two, speaking in tongues made for a very pleasant feeling inside; thus making me feel I was closer to God the more I spoke in tongues especially privately. Three, influence of leaders and peers.
    Another thing I think that bears mentioning is that of all the years I attended Pentecostal Churches, despite claims of great miracles such as healing. This included going to many healing crusades, I never saw even one miracle that could be proven beyond a doubt. Deep down at the time it bothered me, however the hype of these events made a person almost blind to this aspect.
    As I said earlier I am not a full fledge Cessationist, but I thought I would include something written by a Cessationist that in my view I can totally relate to as a former Pentecostal.
    http://the-highway.com/cessation_Edgar.html

  • 25 Aug 2011
    Mark From Austin says:

    I actually misspoke rather badly when I said “The notion that the gifts of the Spirit ended at the end of the 1st Century or with the death of the Apostles is foreign to history, ….”

    I should have said not consistent with history. Sadly for all of us, the notion of the gifts ending is not foreign to history at all. I wonder how much it has held us back actually.

  • 26 Aug 2011
    John Field says:

    I like this because it expresses some of my concerns here in the UK. The big problem for me is that if any ‘prophecy’is put on a level with scripture, indeed, if it is claimed to be for the whole church then 1.It means that for 2000 years the church of God has been impoverished because it has missed out on something (this new revelation) and 2. It is effectively saying that the Bible is still incomplete (Revelation 22 v 19 and others)

  • 26 Aug 2011
    Pete says:

    @ Tom Hardy,

    Your former pastor is a perfect example of the phrase I used earlier – “sincere but deluded”. And you also demonstrate the important concept that theology is a communal process – the beliefs and practices of those around us influence our understanding of the Bible. Likewise, tongue-speaking can produce psychological effects and religious experiences as you say.

    But ultimately, if we can detach ourselves from the “hype” that has been part of pentecostalism since it began, we see that they are just chasing the wind and there is nothing there. I thank God you were able to do this.

    @ John Field,

    Interesting, I was just reading a piece of very poor writing by a UK charismatic pastor in which he was saying the same thing as you, namely that when prophets were lost, the church lost its sense of direction. Utter nonsense, as you say – the Bible gives us all we need.

  • 26 Aug 2011
    Fr. Robert (Anglican) says:

    Btw, if we see the Apocalypse or the Book of Revelation and especially 22:18-19, and “the prophecy of this book”.. “this book”, “the book”.. in the sense of it’s being the end and close of the written canon? Note too, Deut.4:2. Then we have a sense of a real Biblical completion! But of course that would be also an exegetical question. It perhaps does not go that far, The “book” or (Gr. biblion, or “scroll”). However, in a more spiritual or insightful manner, the wording does seem to imply a canonical perspective. And Rev.22:18-19 looking back to Gen.3:3-4, does seem to provide the last biblical word on the subject. Just a thought?

  • 26 Aug 2011
    Fr. Robert (Anglican) says:

    In again a spiritual sense, the Book of Genesis finds its complement in the Apocalypse! I don’t see how this can be doubted. As has been noted like “biblical bookends”! I think we do not appreciate the canonical sense enough, especially in the life of the Pilgrim Church. And again, even in the Reformed and Reformational sense, the historical or “Catholic” Church must be seen. But, then, hey I am an Anglican! 🙂

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