Saturday, January 14, 2006

Can we ever have an intelligent discussion about "sign gifts?"

Phil Johnson has been trying to discuss sign gifts for quite some time. And each time he writes something, the posts have generated quite a few comments.

In general, I've been frustrated with the response, because it seems like those on the Charismatic side want to argue with Phil before he's ever made any definitive statement of his own position.

I'm not going to give you all the links. I don't have the time right now, nor the energy. Plus, they should be easy enough to find.

I'm interested in clear-headed discussion of this issue (and I think Phil is, too), but so far it seems that most of what's out there has been an emotional response to a perceived threat from Phil. But I do want to give you just a sample of what's out there, along with reiterating my questions on my own blog.

Phil's latest post has generated 138 comments (as of this time), although many of them are just variations on what people have already said in previous comments.

Here is a slightly modified version of my recent comments:

You keep ignoring my basic question. More importantly, though, you seem to be ignoring the basic premise of Scripture that prophets are reliable 100% of the time.

I said:
"And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 19-21, ESV).

Where does this verse say prophecy comes from? From fallible man, or infallible God? The Scripture says that prophecy comes from God, not man. If that's true (and I think it is) then there's only two conclusions about inaccurate prophecy: either God was wrong, or the prophecy wasn't from God. And if a person proclaims a prophecy is from God and it's not from God, why would you follow him?

You replied: Your statement says nothing not already agreed to.

But you really haven't. What you're saying is that true prophecy is true 100% of the time. What I'm saying is that true prophets prophesy truthfully 100% of the time.

If prophecy is from God (which you say you agree with), then it must be true, always. It is not, nor has it never been OK, for true prophets to prophesy falsely. Even once. The definition of a false prophet is that they give false prophecies. Why can't you accept that?

To anyone who is interested in a civil discussion, I pose this question: If we can't even agree that true prophets must always prophesy truthfully, and false prophets are those who prophesy falsely (things about which Scripture is completely UNambiguous), how can we ever get to a genuine discussion of what (if any) miraculous gifts are still operative and why?


wordsmith said...

lol - I know of whom you speak. My theory is that Phil is going to let him have enough rope so he'll hang himself...

Carla said...

And that... is what is at the heart of the charismatic teaching:


Experience, feeling & manifestations.

I've seen it...
I feel...
I believe...

Do you see who is at the center of this? (think on that for a minute).

Yes I know that statement ticks a lot of charismatics off, but it's the truth and that's all there is to it.

Truth isn't founded on the sure word of God, but founded on whatever you feel, experience, or believe.

One of the many reasons I was on my face in gratitude when the Lord called me OUT of it.


BugBlaster said...

Yes, this gentleman's response has been that he pays attention to the accurate prophecies as being from God, and ignores the inaccurate prophecies as not being from God. But you don't really know which one is which until later, possibly much later, so really you would have to pay attention to them all if you thought some of them were the real deal. Giving credence to everything that a 65% prophet prophesies is just abhorrent. I can't think of another word for it.

And of course the thing that really mystifies me is: if you don't know a prophecy is for real until after it is fulfilled (or not), then what is the point?

100% or nothing, I agree. 65% never existed in any scriptures.

I really wonder Matt, if a civil discussion will ever be possible, because cessationism strikes at the heart of what continuationists seem to consider the most precious core of their faith. If that is taken away then everything changes for them, in ways that they would view as calamitous. No wonder that the temperature rises.

Sorry for the long comment here, but I didn't want to add to the fray over there.

See ya.

Via Crusis said...

Appreciate your comments and those of your fellow compatriots on Pyromaniac. I'm new to this blogging thing. Just ckecked out your blog today. But the issue is timely to my counseling with family members who live away, and have visited over the past holiday season. Experience is their defining criteria. They seem have a low opinion of scripture in general or are just very untaught in the Word.
Thanks for directing folks outward to the Word rather than inward to christian mysticism. Steve

Gummby said...

wordsmith: That's pretty funny. You may be onto something.

Via Crusis: I'm glad to hear you say so. What I'm not trying to do is be strident or argumentative, but you never know how it sounds on the blog.

And to both of you, welcome to the blog. Thanks for stopping by. I love new readers.

Carla: I'm afraid you're right. I used to think otherwise, but the more I look around, the more I see people clinging to their traditions despite logic and Scriptural basis to do otherwise. It takes a lot of guts to admit something is wrong when it's all you've known. Yes, I know ultimately the Lord does it, but I also think it takes courage on the part of the individual. I'm also glad he called out of that. I had a friend in college who went through needless suffering because of a false prophecy.

It's not just Charismatics, though. All of us are emotional about traditions, and all of us have blind spots. That fact was part of the genesis of my blog, actually, including the name--trying to find those things that didn't match up with Scripture, and ridding my life of them.

Buggy: What you said is exactly what I despair of. That at the end of the day, why even bother, because you can't get anywhere with someone who won't even objectively look at the facts.

Carla said recently if she'd had a post like Phil had, with all those comments, she'd just pack it up and call it a day, because there was no way to interact with so many commenters. But in a sense, that exactly what Phil has done. I haven't seen a single comment from him. Granted, he said he'd be busy, but still. More important than that, though, is the simple fact that there isn't really that much to respond to. It's a bunch of guys arguing about Phil's cessationist views that he hasn't even talked about yet.

Anyway, I find myself agreeing with Raja for a change--I hope Phil gets back to the relationship between OT Law the NT. That thread, although controversial, at least had some interesting points to it. And, I would hope, people could be a bit more rational about what part of the law (if any) is still active today.

Thanks again for the comments, especially on a Saturday.