A commenter under this post writes,
Here’s a suggestion, why don’t Fred, Dan, and others refute the best proponents of the opposing position? Like Grudem and Fee (among others), for instance, and stop gunning for the Hinns of the world?
The objection to our view is that John MacArthur and other like-minded cessationists – which I guess would include Dan Phillips and myself – hunt the easy targets. Like shotgun blasting baby ducks in a pond.
Everyone agrees folks like Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Paula White, and the entire wretched hive of scum and villainy paraded before our eyes on TBN are fakers and charlatans. However, they don’t represent the best of the continuationists. We need to consider the sound arguments made by continuationist/charismatics like DA Carson, John Piper, Craig Keener, and Wayne Grudem.
My commenter seems to think no one from our “camp” has offered any meaningful critique. Though if one were to do a simple search you could find a number of articles.
Gordon Fee: HERE
Those who identify with Grudem-Carson-Piper-Keener consider themselves to be “open, but cautious.” I honestly never understood that description. Either spiritual gifts as described in the NT documents function among Christians in today’s church or they don’t. It’s that simple.
The very description, “open” implies you believe spiritual gifts function in today’s church just like in the NT, but the addition of “cautious” means you are not so sure. In fact, if you think about it, the two terms cancel each other out. To say you are “cautious” puts you in the same camp as me, the spirit-quenching MacArthurite cessationist. The term “cautious” means you’re skeptical about the so-called healing or whatever supernatural manifestation may have taken place, at least until you can evaluate the authenticity of such a claim. Indeed, if you are are skeptical, by Steve Hays’s standards, you’re thinking like Richard Dawkins and other new atheists.
Certainly it doesn’t mean an “open, but cautious” person is “open” to, or even “cautious” about, Benny Hinn whipping alleged deaf people with his suit coat. He’s automatically discounted at the outset of this discussion per my commenter’s comment.
So. Are the “open, but cautious” then saying they are cautious about those claims of healing coming from among the proponents of the “open, but cautious”? If that is the case, then what exactly is the criteria that makes a claim of healing genuine? Or perhaps I should ask, what is lacking in the testimony about the claim of healing that would make an “open, but cautious” proponent cautious of the claim?
If the claim is dubious, and the “open, but cautious” person is skeptically cautious of the claim, then why doesn’t that dubious claim place that person making it along side Benny Hinn? Additionally, what if a like-minded “open, but cautious” friend believes the claim is genuine, but you are still cautious? How would we determine which person is right? One could say Scripture is the final arbiter in those cases, but each person can equally appeal to Scripture.
That subjectivity would be especially true in regards to alleged prophetic announcements. At least according to Grudem’s paradigm, a prophecy can be fallible. If we have “conflicting” prophecies that aren’t unbiblical or odd, do we just sort of wait around to see which one is confirmed and then declare fallibility or infallibility?
For instance, I have a friend who once attended an “open, but cautious” church. A time during the service was provided that allowed for people to “give a word from the Lord.” One person stood up and explained how God wanted to announce thus and so concerning His work in this church.
A little bit later, an entirely different person stood up and announced thus and so concerning God’s work in this church, but that prophet’s announcement contradicted the first “prophet.” Neither “prophecy” was necessarily unbiblical. So who is right?
Now perhaps one will say that the others in the congregation with the gift of prophecy are to make that determination per 1 Corinthians 14 :31,32, but what if there is a division between them? Are we to conclude the infallibility of a prophecy is determined by majority rule?
Contrary to what many readers may believe about us MacArthurite cessationists, we do not deny the supernatural work of the Spirit. All that we are insisting is that the exercise of spiritual gifts be according to what we find in the biblical record.
Checking the biblical record, I see no case of tongues being nonsensical gibberish done either in public or private. It was a genuine human language that operated according to the normal rules of linguistic grammar that the person speaking that language had never learned.
The reality is that 100 percent of the “tongues” practiced among Christians in churches or in private, even among the “open, but cautious” is fake. Perhaps I am being over the top to say 100 percent. Maybe 98.92 percent; but I have yet to come across that fraction of a percent.
When people were healed, it was an undeniable, extraordinary work of the Spirit healing an individual (Acts 4:16). Something the “Amazing” Randi could not deny. Think Iraqi war veterans getting their limbs back completely whole or the late Christopher Reeves having his spinal cord injury reversed.
When we MacArthurite cessationists ask for evidence of such occurrences, it is not because we deny God can heal. It is that the track record for such testimonies has been consistently tarnished with the exaggerations of eager enthusiasts or outright fabricated all together by flim-flam artists. The reality is that none of those kind of miracles are happening, because if they were, everyone would certainly know about it, including the most militant critics of Christianity.