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Theology Unplugged: Why I Am/Not Charismatic Part 9

Join C. Michael Patton, Tim Kimberley, Sam Storms and J.J. Seid as they discuss issues surrounding spiritual gifts.

5 Responses to “Theology Unplugged: Why I Am/Not Charismatic Part 9”

  1. This was a great TUP session! As you all discuss 1 Cor 12 and 14 you are also manifesting the reality of 1 Cor 13 and that is wonderfully refreshing. This TUP was particularly enlightening because I think it very clearly brought out the fundamental issue of tension between the perspectives being articulated. As I heard Sam state it: in the OT there was an infallible connection between a) the revelatory act and b) the communicative act. He believes that this does not necessarily hold in for the NT conception of prophecy. Michael took issue with this. Sam urged that these two contrasting views of prophecy be examined by looking at how prophecy is described and functions in the NT. Toward that end I would urge a look (again) at Acts 21.4–“and through the Spirit they were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.” Grudem writes about this passage:

    “The difficulty with the entire passage…is the fact that the expression ‘through the Spirit (in Greek, ‘dia tou pneumatos’) modifies the verb ‘they were telling in the Greek text (it modifies the imperfect verb, ‘elegon’)…So here is speech given “through the Spirit” that Paul disobeys! This fits well with a view of prophecy that includes revelation given by the Holy Spirit and an interpretation and report of that revelation that is given in merely human words, words that the Holy Spirit does not superintend or claim as his own, words that can have a mixture of truth and error in them.”

    The amazing thing is that many hard cessationists handle the verse in the same way! They recognize that the Holy Spirit revealed something but the people added something else in. Richard Gaffin in “Perspective on Pentecost” talks of not confusing the revelation and their speech act (p. 68). O. Palmer Robertson likewise says: “To this perfected revelation the concerned disciples appended their own conclusion: that Paul should not proceed to Jerusalem.” “The Final Word” p. 111. He goes on to cite others (Munck, Bruce, Alexander, and Calvin) who agree with him. I have mentioned in another thread George Gillipsie’s view is the same on this passage. I know it’s only one passage but we begin to see the reality of a revelation from God that is added to by the receiver and then the whole complex of revelation/communication is said to be “through the Spirit.” This seems to accord with what Grudem and Storms want to say NT prophecy is.

  2. Richard, You said”They recognize that the Holy Spirit revealed something but the people added something else in.” So the point being that a truth/revelation could be reveled to a prophet today and added to by the prophet through their speech. So where does that get us. How would I know if a revelation that is being shared with me by a prophet, is indeed the actual message that God gave to the prophet. How do I even know there was a message given at all to the prophet. And if in the end I have to check/spell it with God’s word as final authority then why bother with prophet’s at all, let’s go to the real source.

  3. Jim,
    Here are a few thoughts with the limited space here:
    1. Let me respond to your last sentence, first. Why bother? Because God’s word says there is a gift of prophecy for the church that brings edification, exhortation, and consolation (1 Cor 14.3) and that these prophecies are to be tested (1 Cor 14.29; 1 Thess 5.21). We don’t have any examples of NT believers taking your view–“Well, if I have to examine it by the Scripture why bother with the prophecy at all–just go to the Scriptures.” Paul explicitly says, “Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances” (1 Thess 5.19-20).
    2. How do I know? You raise this in a couple different ways in your post. This is obviously an epistemological issue. As such it is not that different from the rest of life. Once we get past the false dichotomy of incorrigible certitude or complete skepticism we recognize that we all live with a range of varying degrees of certainty. Many times this is contextually determined. For example, I know that people can lie and have been lied to in the past. This does not mean every person lies to me. When my wife professes her love to me I don’t reason, “Well, people can lie, she is a person, therefore she may be lying!” The context of our life together brings the reality of knowing her words are true. This is important to remember because we are talking about communal prophecy in 1 Cor 14 and Rom 12. We often think and talk about these issues very individualistically. But our lives as lived out in the matrix of community is an important part of the knowing process. Do I know the one prophesying? Do I know their character? Do I know their “track record” with prophecies? Also I evaluate the actual prophecy itself. Sometimes it “rings true” to my experience. There is one example of this given in 1 Cor 14.24-25 where it speaks of an unbeliever having his heart exposed and this is very clearly known to be true by the receiver that he falls down and worships. For more on this I would recommend you look at Vern Poythress’ article “Modern Spiritual Gifts as Analogous to Apostolic Gifts: Affirming Extraordinary Works of the Spirit within Cessationist Theology” especially section 6–‘Circumstantial content received through nondiscursive processes.’ http://www.frame-poythress.org/poythress_articles/1996Modern.htm
    3. My point in my post was to look at Acts 21.4 and show that both continuationists and cessationist say similar things about the revelation/response distinction. Grudem and Storms find exegetical support for their view of prophecy. What is your understanding of Acts 21.4?

  4. Hello,

    Just wondering your thoughts about how theoretical the cannon can be added to and how does that view interact with Hebrews and the sufficient and supremacy of the NT in Christ.

    “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.”

    It would seem to me that no further revelation is needed for two main reasons.

    1. That God in the last days spoke by His own Son who is heir of all and created the world therefore there is a supremacy of information about God due to the fact that God is no longer going through intermediates like prophets but rather He spoke directly to us though the Son, who is heir and create of all and upholds the universe. Christ is the exact imprint and radiance of God, unlike the prophets; therefore there is nothing more to be revealed about God due to the fact that Christ has fully revealed God. How could God relieve more if he is the exact imprint and radiance of God? There is a supremacy that can never be matched because all others would not be the Son.

    2. The second reason would be that he sat down. This always signifies a completion of what has taken place. The Son spoke to us and made purification for sins and then he sat. The speaking of God through his Son is complete and sufficient and the Son is now resting no longer needing to continuously speak to us because He has spoken and sat down.

    The main reason I would not accept any new revelation would be that God has spoken by His own Son who is heir of all things, created all things, the radiance of the glory, and the exact imprint of God, upholds the universe and is seated and the right hand of the Majesty on high. What could be better or more complete than that?

    D. Kyle Christner
    SDG

  5. This was a great TUP session. I especially like that Sam finally asked to hear the cessationist view rather than the podcast being “What are the spiritual gifts an why are cessationists wrong abot them?”. As a former charismatic I do need to hear the cessationist side as I try to extricate the wheat from the chaff.

    Specifically as regards prophecy, you all might be surprised that I don’t despise it. Rather when some of my charismatic friends want to give me prophetic utterance I have told them that if they can’t give me the Bible verses that it is rooted in, that they aren’t to give it to me at all. I’d rather someone come to me and say “God gave me this verse (or passage) that He seems to say applies to you,” than have them come to me with something that I haven’t the foggiest idea of whether it is true or not.

    The 1st Century church did not have the complete canon of Scripture and now we do. Anything a modern prophet would say is to be tested by Scipture. Scripture is the complete revelation of God. Scripture is inerrant and infallible (not like modern prophets). God speaks through Scripture. Scripture down through the ages has provided comfort and guidance and direction. o, insteadof wading through the symbolism and vagaries of modern prophecy, why not tell the prophet to cut to the chase? Give me the Scripture. If you cannot do that, it is highly likely that you haven’t heard it from God.

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