Personally, I don’t like pointing out particular people with whom I disagree. Approaching the actual points of disagreement – what I believe could be flawed arguments – is my usual approach. I think it’s an overall healthier approach.
But I must say that I am continually grieved, frustrated, even angered (in perhaps a healthy way) over a particular group of bloggers that regularly mock charismatics and Pentecostals. Or charismatics and Pentecostals are more known by the name continuationists because we hold that all the gifts of the Spirit are to continue into the present day, including such gifts as prophecy, words of knowledge, healings, miracles, tongues, etc.
The blogging team to which I refer who distastefully offers comments of jest towards charismatics and Pentecostals is that of the Pyromaniacs, particularly identified as 3 persons: Dan Philips, Frank Turk and Phil Johnson. You can get a little taste from their most recent post today from ‘Team Pyro’, as they are also known.
But I also want to take a minute and let you read some tweets that have been going out over the past 24 hours, mainly by Dan Philips.
OK, spoken w/The Boyz, now I'll share w/you. Know how I've struggled with the perfect label for Charismatics and Cessationists? I've got it—
Dan Phillips (@BibChr) August 06, 2013
Charismatics/"continuationists" are White Letter Christians. "Cessationsts" are Black-Letter Christians—
Dan Phillips (@BibChr) August 06, 2013
See, the white letters are where it explains how Christians can seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and when prophecy and tongues got...—
Dan Phillips (@BibChr) August 06, 2013
...changed from inerrant direct revelation and unlearned languages to holy hunches and private babble. Also holy gold dust...—
Dan Phillips (@BibChr) August 06, 2013
...barking, mooing, "Holy Ghost machine gun," Romper Room guesses -- it's all laid out plain and simple in the white letters of Scripture!—
Dan Phillips (@BibChr) August 06, 2013
Charismatics/"continuationists" are White-Letter Christians. That's it! Black-letter Chistians=content w/text of Scripture, as it is—
Dan Phillips (@BibChr) August 06, 2013
Philips has now gone on to post a very long string of tweets with the hashtag
#CharismaticismInFiveWords. I won’t post them all, but only give a few as examples. If you so desire to see more, you can visit here.
The Bible? Not quiiiiiiiiite enough. #CharismaticismInFiveWords—
Dan Phillips (@BibChr) August 06, 2013
Do not forbid to bibble-babble #CharismaticismInFiveWords—
Dan Phillips (@BibChr) August 06, 2013
Loosely based on Biblical events #CharismaticismInFiveWords—
Dan Phillips (@BibChr) August 06, 2013
The parts God left out #CharismaticismInFiveWords—
Dan Phillips (@BibChr) August 07, 2013
Billowy claims, zero accountability = WINNING!!! #CharismaticismInFiveWords—
Dan Phillips (@BibChr) August 07, 2013
Thriving on massive Biblical ignorance #CharismaticismInFiveWords—
Dan Phillips (@BibChr) August 07, 2013
In the end, this kind of incessant mockery is gravely disturbing – with me, yes, but I believe with Christ even more. And Jesus did warn us that: the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:45).
I did interact with Dan Philips via Twitter, and I must admit it would be quite easy to get drawn into the sarcastic replies. Yet, many times, it seems the general tone of Team Pyro is that of an unwillingness to engage in much of a respectable manner with not only continuationists, but those who hold differing beliefs and practices from that of Team Pyro. Rather, as the tweets above attest, much of this communication falls within the category of simply attacking straw men – misrepresenting another’s position or creating superficial arguments that are easily refutable.
Of course, it’s quite easy to knock over such straw men arguments if you mainly engage with folk like Pat Robertson, Benny Hinn, Todd Bentley, Rodney Howard-Browne, Joseph Prince and other popular figures found on the tv station, TBN. I notice these type of people seem to be the figureheads attacked by Team Pyro.
The thing is that I’m most certain that Dan Philips and team will be aware that there are actually respectable pastors, theologians and scholars who are also continuationists. I’ll list a few just here:
I don’t agree with the details of every person listed above. But they still have some faithful exegesis, teaching and preaching to offer towards continuationism.
And the thing one might notice is that many of these guys listed are also reformed Calvinists, meaning they come from a very similar theological bent as Team Pyro. Yes, it is actually very possible to be charismatic and Calvinist at the same time (I was once there myself, though I’ve now shifted a bit away from Calvinism).
Not to mention that there were quite a few early church fathers who were proponents for the continuation of the charismatic gifts of the Spirit post-first century. Of course, this list of ancient figures is not as well known as current figures, for many think this is more of a new thing since the early 1900’s. But I list a few of these church fathers in this article – people like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Novatian, Gregory Neocaesarea, and I even note Augustine’s change of theology near the end of his life.
You see, there are actual fine exegetes, theologians and scholars who are convinced of the reality of the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit in all his gifts. I don’t consider myself in the category of great scholar, though maybe one day I can contribute some things when I finish up my PhD. Still, it might also be worth noting that I and a colleague of mine, Marv Cotten, have a blog dedicated to a biblical, theological and historical positive case for continuationism. That blog is entitled To Be Continued. Marv’s a bit more advanced at this point than I, with two Master’s carrying a strong emphasis in biblical languages. And, you know what? I believe we actually need many not-so-well-known pastors and students of Scripture living out the reality of all God’s gifts today, rather than just the ‘heavy weight’ theologians and pastors. The thing is that there are plenty of us normal folk.
Though I’ve posted nearly 100 articles in regards to why I hold to continuationism, I list 7 main summary statements as to why I believe all gifts of the Spirit continue into today.
1) God is an actual living, personal being. Living, personal beings are communicators in many ways. And so, why would we expect anything less from the eternal personal being? God was a speaking God during the formation of the canon of Scripture; he’s a speaking God in the age to come. Why not in this ‘in-between’ period now?
2) Christ is the great prophet and his body is to follow. If Christ is the great prophet, then by nature, his body is to follow in those same footsteps. The body follows the head. We are to be the full Christ even today, and this includes his prophetic ministry. It’s part and parcel to our calling in Christ. It doesn’t mean that everyone is particularly marked out as a prophet today. Of course not. But, via the Holy Spirit’s indwelling and empowering, Christ expects his body to get on with completing that which he initiated. Christ is still continuing that which he began to do and teach (Acts 1:1). Thus, we are now not only a priesthood of all believers, but also a prophethood of all believers.
3) The Spirit continues the same work of Christ. This really connects with the former point, but it’s the Spirit of Christ who empowers the work of Christ amongst the people of Christ. We enjoy (or should enjoy) the same Spirit that empowered Christ and those first Christians.
4) The positive affirmation in Scripture that such gifts would continue. I share much more in this article, but suffice it to say that there are actual Scripture passages that teach such works and gifts would continue. In the article I have linked to, I specifically take time to look at four positive Scriptural affirmations: John 14:12; Acts 2:17-18; 1 Cor 13:8-12; and Eph 4:11-16. There are plenty more one could look at and consider, but those are a very solid starting point as to specific passage.
5) Inaccurate interpretation from cessationists (or those that believe certain gifts ceased after the first century AD). There are the ‘usual suspects’ brought up by cessationists. These passages become pointers as to why certain gifts (or ‘sign gifts’) would cease once the full testimony of Christ and the gospel was completed in the New Testament canon. But that’s just it – Scripture actually doesn’t tell us to expect some gifts to cease. Four very often quoted passages are 1 Cor 13:8-12; 2 Cor 12:12; Heb 1:1-2; and Heb 2:3-4. I have spent some time considering these passages in this article, which you can click to read more thoughts if you’d like.
6) God spoke through those who were not prophets or apostles. Many cessationists centre the work of these certain gifts (again called ‘sign gifts’) in apostles and prophets. But there are still plenty of others who were used to speak forth prophecy or used in other extraordinary gifts. This gives great encouragement to us normal folk. Here is a smattering of those used but were not apostles or prophets in the New Testament.
- Stephen (Acts 6:8)
- Philip (Acts 8:4-7)
- Ananias (Acts 9:17-18)
- The 120 believers at Pentecost (Acts 2:4)
- Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:46)
- Agabus (Acts 11:37-38; 21:10-11) – he was not an apostle, but was a prophet
- The Ephesian disciples (Acts 19:6)
- The Galatian believers (Gal 3:5)
- The Corinthian believers (1 Cor 14)
7) The great testimony of the charismata in church history. There are plenty of examples of God’s Spirit enacting the charismata amongst God’s people. I’ve already mentioned some fathers above. But if you are interested in further study, one might check out Ronald Kydd’s book, Charismatic Gifts in the Early Church. Another great resource is Vinson Synan’s, The Century of the Holy Spirit: 100 Years of Pentecostal and Charismatic Renewal. He takes time to chronicle what has happened over the past 100 years or so with the rise of the Pentecostal and charismatic movements. In today’s world, it is estimated that there are well over 500 million believers associating themselves within the Pentecostal, charismatic or neo-charismatic branches of the church.
There is much more that could be looked at and said, but this is at least a good starter. In the end, I’m not so bothered if some Christians remain cessationist. But what does cause great concern and grief to my soul is when certain cessationists a) continually use massive amounts of sarcasm to ridicule charismatics and Pentecostals, b) this is done by attacking straw men and c) by regularly focusing on extreme folk that would even cause concern for many healthy and Scripturally-focused charismatics and Pentecostals.
I’m not sure how this is stomached by the Pyromaniac reading community, but I do believe the book of Proverbs holds some pretty helpful and corrective words that would be worth reflecting on by those whose lips continually drip mockery.
I’m sorry, but anyone who denies the present-day active work of the Spirit in all His gifts and miracles is simply sticking their head in the sand in a vain effort to “be right”. To claim that our man-penned and man-compiled (but admittedly God-breathed) book is the end all and be all description of who God is and what He wants to say is arrogant and amounts to hubris — a pitiful attempt at trying to force God into a box of our own making.
God is breaking out of that box and will continue to do so to the delight of those who have the eyes and ears to observe it.
I would be, for the most part, a certain kind of Cessationist! And as I have said many times, I have lived thru the Charismatic Movement, both Roman Catholic, and Anglican, (70’s 80’s, though I came to Christ in the 60’s, as an Augustinian Catholic) And yes, I am a basic Biblicist, and a Reformed (personally “neo”-Calvinist) now (years).
So the only box God breaks out of for me, is my Bible Box (that holds my Bible). I’ve got just a few (many) of those! 😉
Ken & Robert, you are back commenting here. Good to see you around.
Scott, while I don’t agree with all your points about cessationism (as you know), I do agree with the main point of the article. As Michael Patton once wrote “what part of gentleness and respect don’t we understand”
Something that comes to mind, and I am no scholar, the Lord did not stamp an end date on the gifts that I am aware of as in June 21st 500,000 AD. Who are we to decide WHEN the full testament of Christ and the gospel are completed? God is a great big God and none of us can understand Him or how He works, that is stated in the Word by the way, so who are any of us to think we have cornered the market on who God is and how he works on either side of the issue? I think the greater problem is the arrogance with which both sides tend to defend their platforms .
I stopped reading the Pyro blog a long time ago. There are better sources to read if you want a gracious Cessationist’s scholarly perspective. That’s not the place.
Appreciated this blog, especially given my current work in the same area…
Btw, though I am surely a “cessationist” as to the so-called “Sign gifts”. I do believe, and sometimes practice the gift of “tongues” in my prayer closet, (1 Cor. 14: 2). Note, literally, “but in spirit he speaks mysteries.” Yes, the normal Christian is a “mystery” in himself/herself!
As someone who tweeted today using the #CharismaticismInFiveWords hashtag, let me apologize. Though I am currently a soft cessasionist, it was not my intent to mock the continuationist position or those who hold to sign gifts.
My two tweets, were related more specifically at those who claim that the Spirit is talking to them and telling them to do something, usually through a gut feeling, yet disavow the idea that they are prophets. Or if they claim to be experiencing the gift of prophecy, they do so with lots of caveats, appeals to vague notions and feelings, and ultimately when pressed that what they received is fallible. None of which I see in the experiences of prophets in the Scriptures.
That said, the tweets were sarcastic and not likely to promote real dialogue on that area so thanks for the call out.
Thanks for your comment and apology. My greater concern is with the normative tactics of Team Pyro regarding not just charismatics & Pentecostals, but most of those who do not fit within a reformed, Calvinistic framework. Unfortunately, I don’t think Dan or Frank will ever recognise the unhelpful sarcasm nor offer an apology. Thanks again. Blessings!
Well, if you;re going to tar and feather, you should at least tar and feather the men you mention and not their scarecrow dopplegangers. As one of those fellows, let me offer a few words of corrections:
1. Phil has not blogged in more than a year, on purpose, and for good end. That you do not know this indicates how closely you are following the current discussion.
2. George Herbert wrote a poem once in which Lucifer looks upon the heavens and, frankly, gives up — recognizes his own limits — when he gazes upon the “armies of unalterable law.” What a fantastic turn of phrase that is. I am reminded of it whenever the alleged continualist trots out the list of supposedly-credible endorsers of “continualism” — and ignores the armies of unalterable law standing all around him in the form of charlatans, con men, heretics, and libertines. I conceed it: Wayne Gruden, D.A. Carson and the lot you list all look very sane until you start talking to them about tongues and prophecy. That doesn’t make their talk about tongues, prophecy, and the lot of “sign gifts” or “apostolic gifts” sane, nor does it answer the real question as to why the clown car of continualism always opens up to dump out people like Paula White, Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, Joseph Prince, Fred Price, Peter Popoff, Todd Bentley, etc. etc. etc. If you’re saying that Carson and Gruden endorse what’s happening on TBN, I say: that calls their credibility into account on all matters. Their otherwise-orthodox views do not justify or substantiate their views on daGifts.
3. You should address actual cessationism — and specifically, the cessationism held by Dan and myself — before you take a swing at it. Your first 4 or 5 bullet points at the end of this post would have been eliminated by reading this post:
4. As to point 6, so what? to say God can do something makes no logical demand to say that God must do that same things again. Scripture sure doesn’t say that this is so — and pretending that somehow Steven prophecying has any relationship to the utter nonsense being spouted today as prophecy is disingenuous at best.
5. To point 7, Dan would probably laugh you out of the room for mentioning those sourcebooks for substantiating the post-apostolic use of daGifts, but I’m willing to take a more irenic tact. I’m willing to stipulate every single event you can substantiate with second-hand reports (people who know the witnesses). However: you must stipulate all of the first-hand reports in plain sight of utter chaos and false teaching parading around as sanctified by signs and wonders. First-hand only for my side, not friend-of-a-friend reports. Given that criteria, are you really still willing to say that there’s even a sort of break-even wash to demonstrate that the sign gifts are for the benefit of the church?
6. (and last) I commend to you this post which asks the most-important question in this debate, as far as I’m concerned:
The issue is this: what is the necessity of these alleged gifts in the life of the church? See: it seems to me, as I pointed out in that exchange with Dan Edelen, that what’s actually missing for you guys is Apostolic guidance regarding the use of the gifts. For example, when Paul dispatches Titus to Crete to set things right, he does not instruct Titus to use the supernatural manifestations for the Holy Spirit to demonstrate the falseness of the troublemakers: he says set up elders who will teach in accordance with Scripture and in accordance with apostolic teaching. He instructs Timothy to do the same thing — preach the Word, inseason and out of season. He instructs Corinth to re-examine the Gospel in order to deal with divisions, immorality, strife, worship, etc. — and specifically calls out using the gifts as a measuring stick as the immature way, while calling the expression of love as the “better way.”
Because Paul says the church ought to be governed one way, yet your view demands it ought to be governed a different way, the burden of proof is on you. And let’s be honest: your evidence is not scriptural, and doesn’t have the weight of what God hath actually said.
Thanks for linking me to this blog post. You have my response, and I look forward to letting you have the last word.
“He instructs Timothy to do the same thing — preach the Word, inseason and out of season. He instructs Corinth to re-examine the Gospel in order to deal with divisions, immorality, strife, worship, etc. — and specifically calls out using the gifts as a measuring stick as the immature way, while calling the expression of love as the “better way.””
Well, I’m not Scott or pretend to speak for him, but I found one item in your “rebuttal” that I simply couldn’t let sit. It amazes me that people can read words like you semi-quoted above in the Bible and think it’s talking ABOUT the Bible, which was only 1/3 to 1/2 compiled at the time these words were written. Paul told Timothy to preach the WORD, Christ, the LIVING Word. first and foremost. To preach about the one who came and was coming again with His KINGDOM, as Paul mentions in the phrase preceding. The Gospel (good news) IS the Kingdom of God on earth. And that – as Jesus preached on the mount – means a kingdom of perfect love between us, God and each other. That’s the GOOD NEWS.
It’s that good news that changes lives – God’s love can be in us and working through us. It’s that love, manifested through the Spirit, that produces whatever it is that God may desire at the moment, be it tongues, miracles, prophecy (which doesn’t necessarily mean future foretelling – that’s a Western idea), or ANY OTHER GIFT, be it “supernatural” or not. Paul warned against FORCING the gifts. Trying to manifest them for their own sake or the pride of the person manifesting them. That’s not done out of LOVE, does not edify the body, and is therefore not of God’s Kingdom. It’s true there is a great deal of that kind of “giftedness” going around, but that doesn’t negate the true work of the Spirit being done to spread and/or confirm the truth of God’s Kingdom to those who may not receive or understand it any other way – just as it was used in the 1st century. Who are WE to decide what God’s spirit can do or can’t do with His people? That’s like Balaam’s donkey telling God that He shouldn’t have had him speak to Balaam.
In response to your six “corrections”:
(1) Your own website still lists Phil Johnson as part of “The Pyromaniacs.” One could be “following” the current “discussion” (a generous use of the term, by the way) as well as know that Johnson isn’t blogging as of late and still write what Scott has written. Plus, are you not suggesting that Johnson hasn’t been involved in these types of “discussions” in the past? Of course not.
(2) This “correction” contains both an ad hominem, is begging the question, and is a red herring! While it’s easy to type that Grudem or Carson (or the other scholars) are not sane when it comes to talking about tongues and prophecy, you have not demonstrated that they are. You have simply stated your conclusion that is based on some significant assumptions without any actual supporting evidence. Furthermore, as just about every critical review of “Charismatic Chaos” has stated, one cannot lump all Continuationists together. It might be easy for you to pick off some of the TBN crowd, but it’s another thing altogether to deal with the exegesis provided by scholars like Fee or Carson. Lastly, you fall into the trap of connecting all Continuationists together when it has been demonstrated in NUMEROUS works that there is a significant amount of difference between them. Do we now hold you and your kin responsible for all that has happened through folks like Jack Hyles or any of the other “fundamentalist,” “independent,” and “baptistic” churches? Why do sooo many abuses come out of those types of ecclesiological gatherings? Maybe it’s because people are sinners and there are the same problems within most traditions as others. Thankfully, as far as I’m aware, the scholars mentioned are not supportive of what happens on TBN. But you might want to write a long blog post about how Ed Stetzer appeared on the TV show since EVERYTHING must be heresy on TBN.
(3) I actually really enjoyed reading most of your open letter to Driscoll because I think it expressed some very healthy concerns. I also think responding to your affirmations and denials would be a good exercise for someone to engage with, so I think your point here is helpful.
(4) I’m not sure this has really any significant relevance to the point Scott was making. Plus, I think you actually missed his point. As you well know, a major feature to SOME Cessationist arguments is the idea that God spoke ONLY through certified and “ordained” Prophets (to simplify the argument). Suggesting that Stephen gave prophetic words DOESN’T mean that all that appears on TBN and no Continuationists that I know of uses that argument. So maybe I’m missing something here, but I don’t think you really understood Scott’s point in his sixth point.
(5) Craig Keener’s “Miracles” points out a major flaw in your worldview here. Yet I still can’t, for the life of me, understand how the fact that there are foolish people out there who are claiming some ridiculous things in the name of the Spirit ensures that all claims are illegitimate. Should I also abandon my belief in the Doctrines of Grace because there have been some folks who claim the name “Calvinist” who do not believe we should evangelize? Or should all Dispensationalists abandon their eschatological view because there’s probable cause to understand that pretribulationism came from a “prophetic” revelation? Your “deal” here is silly. No one evaluates scholarly work or historical data based off of whether someone is willing to grant something outside of the research. Is this a joke? I sure hope so…
(6) Your final statement is much better than the previous “corrections.” Yet it still doesn’t really deal adequately, I think, with Continuationist views. (a) the apostle Paul tells us specifically why spiritual gifts such as tongues or prophecy are “necessary” for the church in 1 Corithians: they build up the church. If you choose not to accept the apostolic explanation, that’s on you. But I don’t know if it’s accurate to suggest that all Continuationists believe that what you call the “sign gifts” are “necessary” for the life of the church. I think that is totally up to the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:11). (b) I think Continuationists of the variety Scott and I are both advocating would say that we DO have apostolic guidance… the Bible! Plus, I don’t know of a single Third Wave advocate who says that the way to establish the falseness of troublemakers is to do “signs and wonders.” In fact, Third Wave advocates will actually agree with a major portion of what you say here… as we also agree that love is the measuring stick and that spiritual gifts don’t equate “spiritual maturity.”
You end your response by talking about how the church is governed. I’m assuming you don’t mean polity but are referring to how the church carries itself in it’s worship practices. The thing is that it cuts both ways because the way that you want the church to be governed is in direct contradiction of 1 Cor. 14:1, 39 and doesn’t really provide an honest evaluation of Jesus’ own words in John 14:12.
Yet if you are talking about modern day apostles, I think that’s a legitimate question… but I’m not sure what exactly you are trying to prove here 🙂
On a side note, these types of conversations almost always are circular because we all have our scholars and books and resources. We also all have the Bible and are willing to engage in exegesis. Yet differences still remain. I think the reason why Continuationists who are not of the TBN variety take issue with your “discussions” is because you fail to represent Continuationists graciously or even honestly.
Thanks for stopping by & commenting. I’m sorry you still believe it best to mock continuationists. I’ll try & respond to your points, though I think others have done a fine job.
1) I used to frequent the Team Pyro blog, but I had to stop a few years back after the continual disparaging comments towards not only charismatics & Pentecostals, but it seemed the same happened with others you didn’t agree with (not only with continuationists). So, yes, I didn’t realise Phil Johnson had not blogged in a while, though I have read some really harsh stuff he has posted. I still follow you and Dan on Twitter to know your thoughts. I still believe this tactic of you guys is a very unhealthy practice, not in line with Christ and Scripture. I don’t mind disagreement and you remaining cessationist. What I continually long for is respectable conversation. It would be easy for me to bash the extremes of any group. But why not deal with the much more level-headed and balanced folk, and do it respectfully?
2) Though I don’t have a specific relationship with folk like Grudem & Carson, nor really any of the folk I list, I don’t believe any of these would be super-proud of what these people you list. Matter of fact, they’d probably call it heresy. Now, I will admit that I’m not as tight as some of the reformed-charismatics (though I really don’t agree with much of the tactics of those you list). But I agree these also cause great concern for many charismatics and Pentecostals today.
3) I read these affirmations & denials on your post today. For me, and I’ll just say personally, it sounds too much like a get-out-of-jail-free card. What I mean is that it’s easy to say, ‘Yes, God can do what he wants since he is sovereign. However, we don’t expect any of this stuff really.’ It’s like telling people continually that I believe in the church and that it is part of God’s great design for his purposes in this world, but then I never, ever connect with a local body of Christians. At some point, the rubber has to meet the road. At some point, if we say we believe in something, it truly will affect our lives in whatever manner and measure it does.
4a) I’m not sure I’ve ever claimed God must do something. But I do expect him at times to burst forth with his rule in our lives, which brings truth, salvation, healing, forgiveness, justice, beauty, love, compassion, care, and much more. I don’t look at my wife and say, ‘You MUST get me a birthday gift!’ But I do expect that she will because she loves me and loves to bless me. 4b) Stephen’s prophesying (Are we certain he prophesied? I’m fine if he did.) doesn’t relate to utter non-sense. What we are given in Scripture does not come as a detailed instruction manual about fixing our car like we would find in the glove box of our car. But Scripture does give us a model, ultimately centred in Jesus. I’m up for modelling prophecy and other gifts after Jesus.
5) I’m still not convinced that Dan (or anyone) laughing me out of the water will help in dialogue. But it’s possible it might lead to constructive conversation. The quotes in the article I linked to come from the actual written words of these church fathers. a) Justin Martyr in Dialogue with Trypho, b) Irenaeus in Against Heresies, c) Novatian in A Treatise of Novatian Concerning the Trinity, d) Augustine in City of God, Book 22, Ch 8. As for my own experiences, I’ve received very pointed prophecies that have not simply been vague, but of substance. My friends, who are normal folk like you & I and don’t parade their stuff on tv, have been used in healings, miracles, prophecies, words of knowledge & wisdom, etc. I am more of a teacher, though I would say I’ve known the voice of the Lord at times. Do we really believe that every charismatic & Pentecostal Christian simply lies and distorts things to their own glory? Some do and have, and it does sadden me deeply. However, there are real-life healthy & beautiful testimonies across the globe. I’d mention some things that have also happened with my Chinese, Indian, and Latin American friends, but I can only imagine you might despise them because of their unlearnedness or say the only reason these might have happened in the developing world is that they don’t have a solid testimony of the gospel and the canon of Scripture yet. But we forget that the gifts were given for a two-fold practical purpose, which I mention below in point #6.
6) I have no disagreement about the establishing of solid elders/leaders who teach the word (though interestingly enough, Titus & Timothy would not have had an NT canon at that point). We very much believe in it and we see Scripture as primary in all the good things God has given for us to know his good ways (I think something like the Wesleyan quadrilateral is much more holistic, still letting Scripture take primary place). And we allow Scripture to teach us about the gifts (though we don’t have a lot of detailed instruction outside 3 chapters in 1 Cor and looking at examples of how others were used in these, for again, Scripture is not comparable to a car-instruction manual). Here’s one major thing that many cessationists fail to recognise: The gifts were given for two practical purposes. a) Yes, as you rightly note, they work in an attesting/sign manner, but they also function to b) edify, build up and bless others. This second point is what Paul’s instruction is about to the Corinthians. He doesn’t say, ‘STOP DOING THESE THINGS.’ He says, ‘Let’s do this in a healthy way.’ We need the whole gamut of gifts today to be the whole Christ in the whole world, attesting to the evangel and blessing others. It’s quite wonderful!
You say the most interesting of remarks: your evidence is not scriptural, and doesn’t have the weight of what God hath actually said.
That’s quite easy to state. I could easily say the same to you. Calvinists can say this to Arminians and Arminians can say this to Calvinists. And so on and so forth for any particular issue. It doesn’t mean much. And while I cannot post a 100,000 word blog post to answer every objection, I’ve given you links to my stuff on apostles and prophets, and you can find many stuff on spiritual gifts in the category drop down box. In fact, we’ve set up a whole blog devoted to continuationism – To Be Continued.
I don’t expect you to come back and engage. That’s ok. I know we won’t come to any agreement biblically, theologically and historically. However, my greatest plea is, as I said in my article, that a) the overly & continual sarcastic mocking would be done away with, b) you would stop attacking straw men and c) you’d stop focusing on extreme folk that would even cause concern for many healthy and Scripturally-focused charismatics and Pentecostals.
BTW – it’s utterly comical that anyone can cut Dan or I as rigidly “reformed and calvinistic”. Only people who never read us but only listen to second-hand reports could say anything like that.
Uh… are you serious? You post on the Calvinist Gadly! 🙂
Luke…I’m a long-time reader of both Frank and Dan’s work and I assure you that they are not rigidly reformed and Calvinistic in their views.
I think they fall into something like Reformed Baptists. I could be wrong. Still, there is a much bigger problem here that doesn’t remind me much of Jesus.
Scott…I’m more concerned over the mockery Charismatics make of the Holy Spirit.
As it was already said, you can’t lump together & stereotype a group of 500+ million. It doesn’t work very well at all. It’s like saying all Calvinists are fatalists, all dispensationalists are date setters, all evangelicals are fundamentalists, etc. Do you see the problem?
Team Pyro can address their concerns with specific folk. But to identify all continuationists as those who don’t care for Scripture, healthy doctrine, etc – Well, it’s simply untrue.
And to the question of whether the tactics are healthy and loving, look at what a few other commenters have said here. Not to mention I’ve received emails as well. There is great concern here. It might be worth their time to reflect on this.
Jules, “… the greatest of these is love.” Showing love, no matter who or what we believe we need to defend, should ALWAYS be our top priority.
Help me understand…you’re saying that the series of Tweets is unloving?
“Thriving on massive Biblical ignorance”
No, I would not call this one, or several of the others “loving”. Especially given the overall tone in which these were given in, which, as Scott pointed out, is mocking. It’s lumping a entire group of people together stereotypically (anyone who believes that miraculous gifts occur today) and then assigning attributes to them that you have no evidence actually applies to them. It is only given to make the other people who think like them laugh and to make them feel better about themselves. It serves NO constructive purpose.
1. Dan Phillips mocks me in the comment stream (I=MCC) of this post: http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-no-no-no-youre-arguing-from.html
making some remark about irony. That in response to my raising John 14:12, our Lord’s own teaching that “whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do.” These are RED letters in fact. Where do we get off simply ignoring them? Or else downplaying them with our contrived spin? He sent us as the Father sent Him and equipped us with the Holy Spirit and power, and this from Pentecost to Parousia. White letters? That is the color of all those verses teaching that the Spirit-empowered ministry Christ taught, and the gifts etc, has come to an end. These Cessationists proclaim this loudly, without a shred of Scripture to back it up, and they then congratulate themselves as people of the Scriptures. Irony? oh yeah.
Great timely and Important post Scott. I guess I have to classify my self as a charismatic / pentecostal but as of late I have been listening and reading a lot of teaching from the Reformed camp. Sadly this week I had received a couple of CDs from a ministry only to find that throughout several of their teachings they would belittle Pentecostals. They would always use some extreme example to prove their point. Needless to say the CDs have been recycled.
I also think that this issue of attacking others goes far beyond what you have posted about. So many people seem to think they have the only magic formula to do church. It is easy to get so passionate about our own calling that we think we are the only ones to right. But like you said, let’s focus on our positive ideas instead of complaining about someone else.
To be honest with you, Scott, I’ve engaged a host of Charismatics via the inflammatory and rhetoric-ridden comment threads at CharismaNews over the past two weeks and I’ve learned one thing quite clearly: Charismatics regularly cry foul when they are lumped together with the lunatic fringe of their own movement, but rarely make an effort to separate *themselves* from the aforementioned fringe.
As for the hashtag, I’m not the least bit troubled by it. I spent over 12 years in the Charismatic church and every single five word statement made under that hashtag is true. If Truth is mockery, so be it.
Honestly not judging, because I don’t know you at all Jules, but your words sound kind of bitter. Whatever happened between you and that church, or whatever those people said or did does not translate to EVERY continuationist.
I’m also curious what would constitute “separating” from the lunatic fringe. And why exactly should people have to do that? Do they have to PROVE something to have a legitimate reason to believe something different than you do?
Not bitter at all, Ken. But, thanks for the passive-aggressive ad hominem jab.
As for separating, if Charismatics are truly concerned about being stereo-typed/lumped together with members of their camp such as Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, Paul & Jan Crouch, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen & TD Jakes one would think they’d be quite clear on their distinguishing characteristics.
What is leading you to believe that continuationists like myself (or those listed in my article) are not a) encouraging folk to remain Scripturally healthy and b) guarding folk against the teachings of these extreme charismatic folk, and thus distancing from them.
Please reflect on whether these mocking statements actually reflect ALL continuationists and, therefore, if it’s worth grouping us ALL together.
Again, would it be fair to say all evangelicals are fundamentalists? That would be terrible to say so (which some non-Christians & liberals do). Would it be fair to say all Calvinists are fatalists? Would it be fair to say all Calvinists do not evangelise?
Something in me says this does not bring honour and glory to the Christ we are named after.
My observations/comments come from having spent 12 years in the Charismatic church, Scott.
And, I’m not mocking. I’m quoting.
If a statement doesn’t apply to you and is not true of you then it shouldn’t bother you. For instance, I know that the statements, “Calvinists are fatalists/Calvinists do not evangelize” are false and straw men so they don’t bother me.
Lastly, I caution you strongly in the fear and admonition of the Lord to *not* base anything on “something in you”. Your feelings/hunches/nudges/notions/intuition are fallible.
I have stayed out of this, only reading and speaking once, but the Christian should not be afraid to look within himself, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail the test (find yourself unapproved).” (2 Cor .13: 5) And the test is whether “Christ” Himself has regenerated our hearts and lives in us? And here this is both seen with God’s faith, given within (always the gift of God, Eph. 2:8, of course noting too verse 9 & 10) and too the glory of God… “Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power (glory) of God.” (Matt, 22: 29) So we need not be afraid of our hearts, if Jesus lives within. And no, we don’t trust everything that comes into our hearts, because we still live in a sinful broken world, and even our hearts (and mind) are still susceptible here, i.e. the old man or nature! But by the Spirit of Christ who lives within we seek to put to death, and say no to the flesh, and the things of this “world”. This is the tension really of Romans 7: 13-25 with Romans 8. But we need not to think that we live in some place of mere dualism, “for greater is He that is in you, than he that is of the world.” And so in time we can and should learn to trust the New Nature, and HIS intuition, which is always “Christ in you, the hope of glory”!
Sorry a bit preachy, but hey I love to preach Christ! 🙂 And note, I am a “neo”-Calvinist! 😉
Test ourselves against…ourselves?
Read the Text! Yourselves three time I believe…2 Cor. 13: 5
Why are you shouting, Robert?
The point is, does Christ “Himself” live within us? If so, we not be afraid! And actually HE is the test…always Christ! As Melanchthon said in one classic sentence: “To know Christ is to know His benefits.” 🙂
Told ya, I get a bit preachy, speaking about Christ! 😉
*we need NOT be afraid!
You put forth an important statement to reflect on: Lastly, I caution you strongly in the fear and admonition of the Lord to *not* base anything on “something in you”. Your feelings/hunches/nudges/notions/intuition are fallible.
Here’s what we must remember. Even as we teach & preach the Scriptures, all are fallible. It is highly possible that you & I’s understanding of Romans or the Psalms is a bit off, even after consulting commentaries and lexicons. We are all humbly and reverently looking to faithfully proclaim the word of God. This isn’t a cop-out, but it reminds us in our teaching, shepherding, prophesying, praying, evangelising, etc, that we are not absolute and objective. Thankfully God has given us the current body of Christ, church history, reasonable thinking, life, etc, to help us as tools in understanding even Scripture. As one reformed theologian-philosopher said something of this nature, “The conviction of the Holy Spirit has never been an absolute & objective reality in our lives.” We’re all in a place of fallibility as we interact with our living God, no matter what our theological foundation is.
And if we look at things epistemologically and approach things from a full-on modernist, post-Enlightenment perspective, we are going to ALL find ourselves in a bit of a pickle to measure up to that standard. There is a certainty of absolute, empirical, verifiable propositional truth that floats on a Boolean toggle switch between either perfect and imperfect, absolute or non-absolute, completely true or completely false. Or there is a certainty of faith that recognises One and One alone is absolute, and we are being transformed from one degree of glory to the next, knowing that we see as in a mirror dimly but that dimness lightens as we move forward in the journey of faith in Christ. But it still remains dim in many ways until he restores all things.
The first position sounds very Christian and worth defending, for we do believe we follow the perfect One. And thus we must defend this position, lest anything we believe be called into question. The other seems the actual testimony of God’s people for thousands of years living in a fallen world and, as far as I can tell, much more balanced, and possibly more honest.
I long for the perfect to come (1 Cor 13). But we all know the eschaton has not come into completion. We know God’s people have not reached maturity and unity in the faith & knowledge of the Son (Eph 4:11-16). So, by faith, though not by empirical data, I am convinced we need the whole gamut of God’s gifts to continue to be the whole Christ to the whole world. And I want to engage in this with integrity, humility, authenticity, faith, hope & even sometime with doubt. That is the reality of even broken Christians.
So the next time your pastor preaches, though he might sound absolutely sure in his exegesis, he too is, humbly & most likely imperfectly, making the word of Christ known. And I’m going to realise the same as I both make the word of Christ known through teaching, prophecy, kind words of encouragement, and much more. I hope the same for you.
May you know God’s closeness as you pursue him. Thanks for our interaction.
Why are you shouting, Robert?
I guess your deaf? lol I love to preach Christ! (On the blogs we must sometimes must use punctuation, to make our case). 🙂
No, my hearing is fine. But, one doesn’t need to be able to hear to read a blog post.
note the two “musts” ….I am trying to make a point mate! 😉
How you ever heard of a literally device? Well, sometimes we bloggers need some! Kinda like poets. Btw, I love classic hymns and Christian poetry also! 🙂
*Have (damn I’m thick today!)
Btw, I had wanted to share a book (or two) one of D.A. Carson’s 2012 books, and on a great subject and challenge: The Intolerance of Tolerance. And perhaps too his earlier book (2008) too: Christ & Culture Revisited. The subject really demands our better effort in this age of modernity and postmodernity . Both are Eerdman’s books. These would be a real challenge for you Scott! There is no one quite like D.A. Carson on subjects like this today! He is always a must read in my opinion.
I know his reformed colleague, Jamie Smith, would challenge some of the modernistic approaches of Carson. 🙂
Indeed one mustn’t mess with the old school Reformed, eh! I know I am considered way too eclectic as Reformed, but then I am an Anglican (though I hope a conservative one). 😉 But Carson is always worth the read!
Better late than never on this one! I too have been a reader of pyro for years, and likewise have become tired of the mocking. There is something very wrong here, not when this is applied to charismania, but to ‘normal’ evangelical Christian believers who ask for the gifts in the expectation of not being given a stone instead of bread.
MacArthur’s sermon on ‘demonic tongues’ is by far the worst treatment/torturing of the text of 1 Cor 14 I have ever heard, it sent my mind reeling! The wisdom operating here seems to me to be ‘earthly, natural/soulish, demonic’, which you would agree is ironic.
I have no problem with the completed canon, but the idea that scripture is ‘sufficient’ without it being taken and applied by the Holy Spirit in our actual lives and experience is monumental deception.
As an observation, I have read widely in the pyro camp for years, not without benefit, but it occurred to me recently that in all this blogging and article writing, almost without exception no-one ever gives testimony of something God has actually done in their church or life – a wonderfully answered prayer or life dramatically changed. It is as though God has become an object of intellectual analysis rather than a Person to whom you can relate, even if our experience is very limited in this life.
Overall, this has led me to reconsider my years of indifference to the gifts, and undue deference to men and their agendas, fears, insecurities, doubts, theologies, and unwillingness to relinquish control over what is done in church.
Luke 9:49-50 John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name; and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow along with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you.”