Continuationism is not a non-essential doctrinal issue [2]

bunyan

I have taken up explaining why I believe continuationism is not a non-essential doctrinal issue. My previous post introduced my basic thoughts on the matter, but just a quick recap:

Contrary to what is generally agreed upon among garden variety Evangelicals and Christian denominations, I don’t believe continuationism, or charismaticism, or even Pentecostalism for that matter, is merely a quirky, but otherwise acceptable tradition of Christianity. I believe the otherworldly claims of the paranormal, coupled with the bizarre, aberrant behavior inherent with continuationism, are detrimental to core doctrines of Christianity, most significantly, the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

I think we can all agree that if there are any beliefs, doctrines, or even peculiar worship practices that claim to come directly from God via the Holy Spirit, those things are certainly essential, and can hardly be considered non-essential. They strike, as it were, at the very center of what Christians believe about God, especially the ministry of the Holy Spirit. That is definitely essential.

One clarifying point is in order. As soon as we invoke the idea of “essential” vs. “non-essential” the notion of a person’s salvation comes to mind. Am I saying that if one is a continuationist, he believes false doctrine that is outside the defining bounds of the Christian faith? Put another way, can a person be a Christian and adhere to continuationist views? Why yes, I believe a person can hold to continuationist views and be saved. But that hardly means that continuationism in itself is far from being erroneous or a primary issue.

During a twitter exchange where I was fleshing out my thoughts on the matter with some detractors, a friend of mine, David Kjos, asked the question, “Must error be immediately damning to be a primary issue? If cessationism is secondary, isn’t Sola Scriptura also?”

A right thinking Christian would immediately recognize the importance of his question. If the opposite of cessationism, that being continuationism, is a secondary, non-essential doctrine that has no direct bearing on one’s saving faith, then Sola Scriptura would fall into the secondary, non-essential category as well.

But the right thinking Christian would also recognize and affirm that what is believed and taught concerning the authority of Scripture in the Church, that being Sola Scriptura, is not just a non-essential doctrine for Christians, but it is one that is primary. While one is saved if they do not believe upon Sola Scriptura, rejecting all that the doctrine entails regarding the authority of Scripture will lead to all sorts of gross error.

So too with continuationism. It is enough of a primary doctrine that the pursuit and practice of it by Christians easily leads to major theological error both in the teaching of Scripture, as well as the life of the Christian.

My attempt here is to document my claim that continuationism strikes at the heart of our doctrine of God. I am particularly concerned that the practice and behavior of continuationists can be blasphemous, attributing works to the Holy Spirit that are certainly contrary to His character as revealed in Scripture, and in some cases making the Holy Spirit out to be a liar. My last post pointed to some doctrinal compromise and I argued that the Holy Spirit will never, ever at any time, direct believers to compromise with unbelievers or those promoting a false Gospel.

With this I want to hit on a second major point,

Lies and Tall Tales. I could make this topic an ongoing series all it’s own, because tall tales of supernatural adventure are ubiquitous throughout all of continuationism.

Ever since I became aware of Pentecostals and charismatics back as a youngin’ in Missouri, I came to recognize that the speakers on the radio would tell some of the most amazingly fantastic stories of supernatural abilities and encounters. Such things as healings, visits to heaven, visits with Jesus in their bathroom, visits with angels, and extraordinary powers, like mind-reading, commanding evil spirits, or seeing into the future.

The way the testimonies were presented, such experiences should be a frequent occurrence for the average, spirit-filled believer. Every Christian should be having visits with Jesus or trips to heaven on a regular basis. I, as a young churched teen was not having such experiences, so I often wondered if God really loved me.

And those kind of stories were not relegated to the fever swamps of your typical continuationist churches like the Assemblies of God or Pentecostal denominations.

When I was in college, my Southern Baptist church had an evangelist named Sam Cathy come to lead a series of “revival meetings” for a week. Every night he would regale us with his supernatural exploits. He apparently had the ability (in Christ, of course) to command evil spirits. He could tell them to levitate furniture and force them to tell him all of their top secret plans for evil doing (in Christ, of course). He was like an evangelistic superhero rescuing wayward, demon-possessed sinners and Christians from lives of disastrous consequence.

For instance, Cathy recounted how he was counseling a young pastor struggling with sexual issues. As he talked with the man, his “devil senses” began tingling, and he immediately recognized the pastor was demon-possessed. He then commanded the demon to tell him who he was. The devil, unable to overcome the controlling powers of the evangelist, was forced to speak.

According to Cathy, an Exorcist moment began taking place as a scary voice started speaking from the man. The devil told Cathy how “they” (meaning he and his devil buddies) set up homosexual encounters for this guy with other men and their plan was to elevate him to the office of president of the SBC and then expose a homosexual scandal around him so the SBC could be brought down. Thankfully, God raised up Cathy, Jedi master evangelist, to use his spirit powers to drive the devil out of the man, thus saving his soul and delivering the SBC from future embarrassment.

This was long before Ergun Caner, but I digress.

devilLooking back now, I believe Cathy was a liar; he made up those stories out of thin air. At best, he seriously embellished, but that is still lying. But he is not a rare exception. Just visit Charisma News Online or the Elijah List  or Sid Roth’s TV program to see what I mean. And again, those are the mainstream of continuationists. They are hardly the fringe.

Let me begin with highlighting a couple we would all acknowledge are crazy ones.

First. Back when I was reviewing Michael Brown’s book, under my review of the fourth chapter, I linked to a video of self-appointed apostolic prophetess, Cindy Jacobs, claiming that she miraculously fed a church of 3,000 people with three loaves of stale bread that were found in the church pantry. She further stated that her and her ministry were given a large sum of donation money for a service she conducted. When they took the money to the bank, what they deposited had miraculously increased in value from the amount they originally took in and counted at the church.

Watch the video below to hear her make those claims from her own mouth.

Now, I do have to point out that the video was uploaded by Rightwing Watch, the barking a the moon, crackpot lefty group. In spite of their overt bias against right wingers, the video does not appear to be altered in any way. Jacobs is telling her audience that she fed a church gathering of 3,000 people in the same way Jesus fed 5,000.

I think she has reached stratospheric levels of lying. The immediate questions I have raised in my mind, where is that church she performed the miracle? and surely, out of 3,000 folks, are there any who would come forward to verify her story?

Second. Bethel Church in Redding, California, is swiftly becoming for crazy charismatic stuff, what Roswell, NM is for UFO believers. I might add, Soul damning crazy charismatic stuff, but that’s for another post. Watch the following video and listen to Kevin Dedmon from Bethel Redding, bobbing in a Kundalini style, tell how his son and his friends walked on water and walked through walls just like Jesus,

What I find even more troubling than him recounting what I believe to be an entirely embellished story of his son and his buddies jumping in the swimming pool, is that he would actually make an entire church full of people believe it.

But Jacobs and Dedmon are the extreme, correct? The fringe. Again, those kind of tall tales and Herculean spiritual feats can be found everywhere among continuationists.

But let’s consider an example from a source closer to the more “sound and balanced” continuationists.

In an article responding to the Strange Fire conference, John Piper, recounts the following story,

“A lawyer one time prophesied over me when my wife was pregnant and said: ‘Your fourth child is going to be a girl, and your wife is going to die in childbirth.’ And that lawyer with tears told me that she was sorry she had to tell me that. So I went home and I got down on my knees and I said, ‘Lord, I am trying to do what you said here in 1 Thessalonians 5:20, 21. And frankly, I despise what that woman just said.’ It proved out that my fourth child was a son, and I knew as soon as he came out that that prophecy was not true, and so I stopped having any misgivings about my wife’s life. She is still with me now thirty years later. That’s the sort of thing that makes you despise prophecy.” [Piper Addresses Strange Fire and Charismatic Chaos]

If I may be so bold, I think that lawyer friend of Piper’s is a liar, too. If she is not a liar, she was woefully deceived by her own flights of fancy to the point she wanted to inject herself into Piper’s life and family in some fashion. It’s kind of creepy in a way. If that is the case, she should be sharply rebuked and told to keep her mouth shut.

But what is truly tragic is that for months, Piper had to bear under the emotional weight of a false prophecy. He genuinely entertained the soothsaying of this woman telling him she had a Word from God that was quietly upending his life. Even still, one has to wonder about why a pastor, considered to be a champion of the Reformed faith, would allow himself to be manipulated by such superstitious whimsy.

The problem I see with all of those tall tales and urban legends of epic spiritual adventure is two-fold.

First, what does this say about continuationism producing a theological matrix that empowers countless teachers, preachers, evangelists, and self-appointed prophets to stand in front of churches with thousands of attendees and brazenly fabricate falsehoods with impunity and no sense of guilt?

Second, what does it reveal about the countless thousands of continuationists who willing drink in their lying tales without the least bit of question? A work of the Holy Spirit is that Christians develop a sense of discernment. That can hardly be said of these individuals.

The Holy Spirit is not involved with anointing and promoting liars, and what spiritual danger is at hand with those who willfully believe the lies calling them from God?

I have one more point for next time.

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22 thoughts on “Continuationism is not a non-essential doctrinal issue [2]

  1. One disapproval of the Roman Catholic Church by Protestants is that it is very artful at manufacturing non essential doctrine if not wholly supported by scripture supported by alleged tradition. Once a questionable doctrine is declared orthodoxy they must also invent an entire support structure to buttress their doctrine which appends all kinds of non essential doctrine, certainly not scriptural. It’s like having to make up more lies to support the first lie.

  2. It’s very telling in your piece here that you haven’t quoted scripture once, but rather testimony. I might add that there is nothing wrong in testimony, and I agree that most if not all of those you allude to are the reason I would abandon the label ‘charismatic’.

    That said, for me the discussion must revolve around 1 Cor 12 – 14 and other NT passages relevant to the issue. Just what does it mean, and is it for today unless explicitly stated otherwise? Reading experience or lack of experience back into the text is something classic evangelicals can be guilty of just as Pentecostals and their second blessing interpretations of Acts. MacArthur on ‘tongues’ is the worst example of reading into the text of the NT what you already want it so say I have ever heard.

    If charismatics can be gullible, evangelicals can be guilty of rank unbelief, or if that is a bit too strong, a marked lack of expectation.

    But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death. This is a precise description of so much fake pseudo-charismatic churchianity, and the word all in all liars has often struck me forcibly. Those who knowingly make false claims are excluded from the kingdom of God, a serious warning we badly need to heed. Further, those who Jesus never knew and who will depart from his presence had supernatural ministries, namely deliverance, miracles, and prophecy, so we should hardly be surprised when we encounter such phenomena, and the celebrity ministers claiming them.

    The existence of the false does not prove that there is no genuine to counterfeit. If you ask the Father for the Holy Spirit, he has explicitly said you will not receive something false. Classic evangelicals need to beware ascribing genuine spiritual experience of the Holy Spirit to other spirits. There are two sides to this issue!

    I see no reason not to ask for all spiritual gifts, and I think I have seen enough genuine for strict cessationalism to be untenable. I am most reluctant to ascribe any of the NT just to the past, including the gifts, including the ‘role’ of women etc …

  3. Ken writes,
    It’s very telling in your piece here that you haven’t quoted scripture once, but rather testimony. I might add that there is nothing wrong in testimony, and I agree that most if not all of those you allude to are the reason I would abandon the label ‘charismatic’.

    The point here with my post was NOT to quote scripture, but to show the devastating effects of an errant theology. I’ve dealt with scripture in other places. As has Lyndon over at his blog.

    Continuing,
    That said, for me the discussion must revolve around 1 Cor 12 – 14 and other NT passages relevant to the issue.

    And I have dealt with those passages in other contexts. Again. I’m documenting the outworking of a theology.

    MacArthur on ‘tongues’ is the worst example of reading into the text of the NT what you already want it so say I have ever heard.

    Care to provide one specific example that is the “worst” in your opinion?

    If charismatics can be gullible, evangelicals can be guilty of rank unbelief, or if that is a bit too strong, a marked lack of expectation.

    At this point in time, the gullibility far,far,far outweighs any perceived lack of “expectation” whatever that means.

    Classic evangelicals need to beware ascribing genuine spiritual experience of the Holy Spirit to other spirits. There are two sides to this issue!

    I have yet to see in all 30 years as a believer any proof of those spectacular gifts charismatics claim happen. I have, however, seen genuine works of the spirit in transforming the most vile sinners into the most godly saints, but that doesn’t usually count for continuationists.

    including the ‘role’ of women etc

    Oh, so women can be pastors/preachers over men now?

  4. MacArthur on tongues. Going by memory he alluded to For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God, where he changed the translation from the underlying Greek to a god, on the assumption the tongues here were ecstatic utterance being made under the influence of the demonic. I know of no translation that does not follow the RSV here and mean tongues is prayer to God himself. I am wary of any preacher who basis his interpretation on a nuance of the Greek which is not found in standard translations.

    He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. MacArthur understands edification of self to be something wrong or negative (because he is already anti-tongues), whereas I think it is good to edify yourself, but even better to prophesy to edify others. The good and the better. Cf Jude 20.

    MacArthur claimed in his sermon that on Sundays when preaching he is ‘prophesying’ as the modern equivalent to prophecy. To claim preaching is the same as prophecy, he has to abandon his complementarianism, because it is clear that a woman may indeed prophesy (with head suitably covered!), but is not allowed to teach doctrine in a mixed congregation.

    You will gather from this I believe the restrictions in 1 Tim 2 & 3 are universal and permanent, not temporary and local. It is the only restriction (but vital), meaning all other gifts, spoken or otherwise, are equally open to men and women as God gives and they ask.

    As I said, I don’t like any of the NT being relegated to the past unless it explicitly teaches something has ceased. The latter is the whole issue of course.

    In my old charismatic days, you wouldn’t believe the gullibility of evangelical critics, swallowing absurd rumours wholesale. Too many charismatics stopped listening to critiques they would have done better to have heeded as a result, assuming all criticism was ill-informed or based on protecting existing church structures.

    I think it important to state that in abhorring the fake and phony, wherever it is found, I would stand shoulder to shoulder with you. I also think changed lives (the vilest offender who truly believes) are more important than gifts, but we don’t have to choose between the two as though they are exclusive alternatives.

  5. Hey Fred…spot on my brother! I simply ask these people to put up or shut up. When a Charismatic/Pentecostal starts talking about this nonsense, I simply say, okay then, lets go down to the hospital or the morgue. That is where this debate will take place. Show me what you’ve got or just shut up. The claims made by these people are empirical claims in my opinion. So, lets see you raise the dead, open blind eyes, empty wheelchairs, etc. Unless you are willing to show me, then please don’t waist my time. That shuts them up every time. And you are correct. This thinking is creeping into our churches more and more and we have to take the error more seriously than we have been for the last couple of decades. By the way, used to be in the Church of God, HQ Cleve. TN. So I am very familiar with the movement. Know it inside and out. Thank you for your work in this area.

  6. Hello Ed, we’ve jousted on this subject before!

    I’m afraid the challenge to empty hospital wards just won’t wash. My understanding of the miraculous gifts both then in the NT, and now assuming continuity, is that they always were given sovereignly as the Spirit wills, none of the gifts is an abiding ability that can be exercised at the will of the person ministering. The apostle Paul couldn’t heal anyone, and it’s a false expectation to expect this today. He could only do this as prompted and enabled by the Spirit. This remains true amongst authentic Christians as God ‘goes on giving the Spirirt and goes on working miracles’.

    Why is it that more or less the only (miraculous) healings I have ever had direct personal knowledge of were amongst charismatic evangelicals? I’m not talking about multitudes here (far from it!), but enough to dispel the idea of ‘works of power’ having been permanently withdrawn.

  7. “none of the gifts is an abiding ability that can be exercised at the will of the person ministering”

    Yet ‘faithhealers’ can heal anyone that walks up to them on television and every Pentecostal you know is acquainted with someone who’s raised the dead.

  8. Fred, lest you misunderstand me, I don’t have a particular axe to grind against John Mac. I do think his tongues sermon is extremely bad. I heard another sermon on this years ago by my old hero Dick Lucas of St. Helens in London, also very critical of charismatics, and whilst I didn’t agree with all of it, some of his criticisms were justified and well-taken. It is true that charismatics can drift into a form of gnosticism if they are not careful. I’m certainly not against testing all things against scripture.

    I’ve also heard John on women’s minstry, and whilst I am in the complementarian camp (if we have to have labels and camps), I think he is too restrictive on what women may do. I gave him a fair hearing though. I’m more with him on this than CBE, let alone Rachel!!

    I’ve also heard his ‘We will not bow’ sermon’, which I found very powerful. Were you there? It must have been quite something. Now here I do agree with him. This issue is going to be one evangelicals will have to decide where they stand, and may be pay the price for it in bearing reproach for being ‘hateful’. It might be premature to claim persecution, but certainly put under pressure.

    We very much need to avoid being a house divided when it comes to being faithful to God and the apostles he sent and their teaching in the area of say women’s minstry and Christian sex ethics, and I fear an overblown critique of all things charismatic (as though Hinn and Toronto is all there is to it) could result in this. In their time, Anglican evangelicals made a good faith attempt not to split over the issue where being evangelical (bible and gospel) was what they had in common and of highest importance, and the charismatic dimension was not allowed to cause rifts because it was secondary.

    Anyway, I mustn’t hog your comments!

  9. Hey Ken, and your reply is an absolute contradiction to what the Charismatic movement claims and represents such a fringe element, it is hardly worth addressing. Cessationists do not claim that God never heals or that he never performs a miracle. What has ceased is the gifts that produce miracle workers and healers. What Jesus and the Apostles did, modern Charismatics do not do. It is that simple. I haven’t put my joust away…always have to keep it close by these days.

  10. Ken, your claim to having witnessed a genuine miracle needs documentation. Name, contact information, doctor certification of an illness, doctor certification of restoration, media story reporting the event, eye-witnesses, name of the healer by whom the miracle was performed, etc. Thanks for the information.

  11. Why does God allow the Devil, Demons and Demon influenced people to do miracles and not Christians? That seems a bit unfair.

  12. Ed: Two shortish posts are better than a long one!

    From where I am sitting, it certainly does look as though cessationalists don’t believe God works miracles today. You are setting a standard not even the early church could meet – I don’t believe they had healers and miracle workers who had an abiding gift so they could heal at will, and I don’t expect anyone today to be able to. (Anyone who does is bogus.)

    If God does heal someone today, who does he do it through? There is usually some human agent involved, certainly in the cases I have seen. So actually we may not be that far apart on this. The main difference is I think 1 Cor 12 charismatics are right to ask for such gifts with an expectant faith God will give them.

    I’ll repeat my question, why were nearly all the healings I have personally encountered amongst evangelicals with charismatic experience? The point being cessationalists perhaps ought to have enough introspection to consider that whatever is wrong amongst charismatics, they too might have got some things wrong.

  13. Regarding your second post.

    I commend you for not just taking my word for regarding a claim of God’s healing. In the instances I have in mind, the condition was medically diagnosed beforehand, and the healing confirmed medically afterwards. It was instant, and permanent. It was also a physical disability, and therefore not a psychosomatic ‘healing’.

    Both involved serious back problems, and in one instance the consulting surgeon allowed the girl to keep the X-rays. As far as I know she still has them.

    There was no fanfare, no media involvement, no boasting, it never occurred to us to do this. God will do such things amongst believing people for their encouragement. Like extraordinary answers to prayer, this is valid as testimony to his grace and kingdom in addition to the usual presentation of the gospel and teaching Christian truth, but it is no substitute for it.

    I think we as evangelicals need to be more honest with the amount of unbelief that God will actually do things amongst us that we have, that we are often too cerebral and even frightened of the word ‘experience’; that we can overdo doctrinal correctness, and above all try not to fall for the deception that because we have the word for something (i.e. know what the bible says about it), we have the thing itself.

  14. I cannot debate you on unsubstantiated claims of supernatural healing. They are just that: unsubstantiated and there is no shortage of charismatics that make the same claims so much so that if their claims were true, these accounts would be impossible for people like me to deny. When I was in the movement, I witnessed people make the same claims you make and I had firsthand account very often that the testimony was outright false, wishful thinking, or extreme embellishments.

    God may heal through the individual prayers of the sick person, their family, their church, and perhaps at times an individual. That is possible but that is God’s sovereign choice as well. We do not need supernatural miracles today to testify of God’s grace. Nothing can top what God has already accomplished at the death and resurrection of our Savior.

    I will continue to challenge you to provide real evidence of a faith healer doing his thing Ken. An apparent healing or two here or there is not the claim coming from the Charismatics that we are challenging. Your position is way out on the fringe. Either defend the claim that the very same apostolic miracles are actively working in the church today just as they did in the NT or admit that you are not interested in defending that claim. Because what you are doing now is hedging the claim and qualifying it in such a way that it does not reflect common Charismatic teachings on the subject. Either faith will get it done or it won’t. Nothing else matters.

  15. Ken writes,
    Going by memory he alluded to For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God, where he changed the translation from the underlying Greek to a god, on the assumption the tongues here were ecstatic utterance being made under the influence of the demonic.

    I would disagree with John’s take on 1 Cor. 14, (I think unknown tongues is tongues uninterpreted), but if you read John’s commentary, as well as the transcript of that message available online at GTY, he goes to great lengths to demonstrate his conclusion why he thinks the Corinthians were doing pagan ecstatic speech, not the real, biblical gift of tongues. So it is a bit of a stretch to suggest that he is intentionally changing the Bible or reading into the Bible because there he has a disdain for charismatics.

    Anyway a person reads 1 Corinthians 14, insisting that it is a gift still necessary and active in today’s church, what Paul instructs with the gift is nowhere practiced in any charismatic church anywhere on earth.

    MacArthur understands edification of self to be something wrong or negative (because he is already anti-tongues), whereas I think it is good to edify yourself, but even better to prophesy to edify others. The good and the better. Cf Jude 20.

    John believes self-edification is negative, because the context of 1 Cor. tells us that the self-edification with the use of gifts is negative. The contrast is self-focused disunity to others focused unity. Again, the “tongue” here is one that is uninterpreted. No one gains from it, and in the broader discussion of unity among the Corinthians, he is discouraging it.
    Jude 20 is specifically speaking to building each other up, “yourselves.” That speaks to a group, joint effort. Not a single effort.

    MacArthur claimed in his sermon that on Sundays when preaching he is ‘prophesying’ as the modern equivalent to prophecy. To claim preaching is the same as prophecy, he has to abandon his complementarianism, because it is clear that a woman may indeed prophesy (with head suitably covered!), but is not allowed to teach doctrine in a mixed congregation.

    Mac teaches that about the gift of prophesy because prophesy is the proclamation of divine revelation. Preaching falls into that category of proclaiming the revelation of God, now contained in Scripture. Not sure where you are getting that women may indeed prophesy but with their head covered. Chapter 11 speaks about head coverings, but there it says women are not to pray without their head covered, not prophesy. Chapter 14 is clear that women are to keep silent in the church, which I take to mean, they are not to prophesy at anytime in church.

    As I said, I don’t like any of the NT being relegated to the past unless it explicitly teaches something has ceased. The latter is the whole issue of course.

    I believe 1 Corinthians 13:8ff, teach that the gifts, especially the spectacular revelatory sign gifts, have ceased.

    In my old charismatic days, you wouldn’t believe the gullibility of evangelical critics, swallowing absurd rumours wholesale.

    Now those rumors are documented on video, so we can see the absurdity over and over again. It no longer remains in the category of hearsay.

    Adding this from another comment post,

    I’ve also heard John on women’s minstry, and whilst I am in the complementarian camp (if we have to have labels and camps), I think he is too restrictive on what women may do.

    How exactly is he “restricting” women? Women do all sorts of things around here at Grace. If you mean we as a church encourage women to get married and have children and not work, yes we do. I would even encourage that. We don’t, however, forbid women from working or whatever.

  16. Ed: You are aware of And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. The incidents I have in mind were similarly immediate. These were medically verified, not self-diagnoses of both condition and healing. And the point is that what God did back then he can do today, combining his sovereignty in giving with our asking in faith.

    I once brought this up amongst atheists on a forum, they just didn’t believe it, and were surprised by the fact I had forgotten about it for the best part of 20 years! Your skepticism is far too reminiscent of them.

    You said God may heal through the individual prayers of the sick person, their family, their church, and perhaps at times an individual, and this is what I am giving you an example or two of.

    You then seem to contradict yourself by then saying We do not need supernatural miracles today to testify of God’s grace. In one sense you are right, we don’t have to have any works of power in our midst. I still think God is more willing to do such works than traditional evangelicalism is willing to admit, but in some cases there is not just an absence of expectation, there is belligerent unbelief at work.

    I would never use such experiences to attempt to defend the fake and weird. There is agreement on the rejection of this by all who take the bible seriously. Hinnism isn’t remotely a ‘continuation’ of anything in the NT unless you have Jude and the second half of 2 Peter in mind.

    This does not mean that believers who ask God for spiritual gifts as outlined in 1 Cor 12 – 14 and other places will not get them because they are now redundant. To do so is in my book to start to undermine the authority of scripture. This is where I differ from you. I’ve seen the fake first hand, and a lot of immaturity as well, but I’ve also seen the genuine as well amongst faithful men well-trained in the scriptures.

  17. Fred – I have never liked ecstatic utterance as a translation for tongues, and whatever your views on this, I for one have never seen anyone in a psyched up condition babbling uncontrollably. It’s just prayer or thanksgiving in a different language. As in all authentic spoken gifts, the speaker is fully in control of himself (or herself).

    I think John Mac. has seen the phony, and imported this into 1 Cor 14. There is little in the text itself to make you believe Paul is correcting a counterfeit gift, unless you assume their pre-conversion heathens being ‘led astray to dumb idols’ had continued after conversion – too big an assumption for me.

    I don’t see prophecy as being the same as teaching or preaching. It was/is a gift open to both men and women, as in 1 Cor 11 Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled uncovered dishonors her head, where both may speak to God in prayer and both may speak from God in prophecy – and imo any other spoken spiritual gift. The church is precisely where this should take place. I can understand private prayer, but private prophecy?

    The eldership and teaching ministry is reserved for men only, and all this comes from the apostle Paul himself, and I don’t believe he contradicts himself or got confused in his arguments.

    I take the view that the silence enjoined in 1 Cor 14 for the women is during the judgment of prophecy a few verses earlier. I believe both here and the strikingly parallel 1 Tim 2 are still valid for today, but to forbid women all spoken contributions in the gathered church is to restrict them more than the apostle intended. (I have debated this whole subject for the last couple of years at Wartburg Watch, and it is all very fresh in my mind. I’ve stopped now, partly because there is a limit to how often you can take the amount of rebellion there is over this subject.)

    1 Cor 13 of course earths the whole discussion in scripture, as it should be, rather than testimony. Have you read Lloyd-Jones on this? I think it difficult to dogmatically assert the supernatural gifts have been withdrawn (MLJ thinks this is nonsense), and this is not the only passage relevant to this topic. I would also plea in this connection to abandon the use of the word ‘spectacular’, it is not helpful in dealing with what God does amongst ordinary believers in everyday church life. We don’t say spectacularly answered prayers are the only ones worth having. Spiritual gifts don’t have to be spectacular; they are Spirit-enabled abilities rather than natural talents.

    If prophecy – speaking in the Spirit to bring a word of upbuilding and encouragement and consolation – has been withdrawn, why did Paul instruct us to ask for it? All of us. He does so after telling us that one day the gift will be withdrawn. If ‘that which is perfect’ meant the completed NT, I wish he had spelled this out more clearly! Such ‘words’ are not an addition to scripture, nor a replacement, and are not infallible any more than bible teachers and preachers claim their sermons are infallible; and classic evangelicals need to beware of a double-standard here.

  18. Pingback: Continuationism is not a non-essential doctrinal issue [3] | hipandthigh

  19. I’m a month and a half late to the party, so maybe nobody sees this, but I’ll share anyway:

    Here’s the problem the Cindy Jacobs clip and others like it cause for the broader movement. Charismatic leaders put more pressure on themselves than anyone can bear, strip themselves of the tools they need to bear it at all, and then try to distract you from noticing. What I mean is, if Kevin DeYoung says something wrong, I need not dismiss him, because Kevin DeYoung the man is not the point. He appeals to Scripture, whether he’s right or wrong, and if he mangles it I can still come back tomorrow and see if he does it better. On the other hand, Reinhard Bonnke’s miracle claims and novel teachings depend on me accepting him as a specially anointed man of God. When he claims that his friend Benny Hinn is a man of God, everything crumbles, because his “anointing” has blinded him to a reality that is clear to anyone with two eyes and a brain. His spiritual judgment cannot be trusted, and I don’t even have to evaluate his own work to reach that conclusion. Likewise, Cindy Jacobs is an obvious, nuclear grade liar. That clip demolishes not only her own credibility, but the credibility of anyone else who claims a greater measure of the Spirit than the rest of us but can still extend credibility to her, either because they believe it, are withholding judgment, or just don’t care. If that’s your extra baptism at work, I’ll stick to mine.

    But of course, there are tricks for dodgy leaders to get around this, namely, exploiting the idea that Christians are supposed to be really nice. It’s not nice to dismiss someone’s claims without specific proof. And if you go to the trouble, you will learn that it’s also not nice to devote your time to something so negative as proving someone wrong. Gawker (yeah, I know) termed the secular version of this attitude (quick definition: hearing an argument and dismissing it on form, because it’s critical, or doesn’t assume the best of its target, or the person making it hasn’t earned the right, or whatever) “smarm”, and the church is overrun by it.

    They can also be vague and slippery in ways you might not appreciate if you haven’t been involved in it. Imagine you’re in a church service. The preacher has asked everyone to bow their heads, but instead of praying, he keeps preaching while the band plays sappy background music. He starts softly and builds up, “You might have come in here tonight thinking your situation can’t change, but I tell you that NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD!” People cry and wave their arms in the air. Later on, you get to challenge the preacher on this point, and he tells you with a straight face and technical accuracy that he never promised anyone that God wanted to do anything specific for them. He was just pointing out the uncontroversial fact of God’s omnipotence, and anyone who took it further wasn’t listening carefully. There is always a nuanced evasion when pressed, but the congregation will never hear it from the pulpit.

  20. Pingback: Articles on Cessationism, Continuationism, and Spiritual Gifts | hipandthigh

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