Monthly Archives: May 2014

Are miraculous spiritual gifts for today? part 2

For background, there are two camps when it comes to miraculous spiritual gifts: cessationists and continuationists.

Cessationists believe that miraculous gifts, such as tongues and prophecy, have ceased with the death of the Apostles. God still does miracles, but the gifts of tongues and prophecy spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 have ceased (hence, “cessation”).

Continuationists believe that miraculous gifts continue as God pleases. I consider myself a continuationist, but as will become clearer, I should probably be called a “constrained continuationist.” Probably everybody believes they are constrained by God’s Word alone, but to my knowledge no one else thought of that label yet, so I claim it.

Last time I established that present-day prophecy would not necessarily mean the canon of Scripture is open. Let’s examine prophecy a little further to see if that is true. Michael Horton wrote:

Paul treats prophecy (prophēteia) as preaching, which although illumined by the Spirit is (unlike the scriptures) un-inspired and therefore must be tested (1 Cor 12:29; 1 Thes 5:19-21).

I agree with this statement. I have come to the conclusion that the result of prophecy and the result of preaching in the Bible were the same. Both can be considered the Word of God proclaimed, intended to change people for God’s glory. Horton would seem to agree with that by comparing the two. That means, the prophecies Paul referred to were not on par with Scripture. Therefore, if someone had a prophetic word today, it would not be on par with Scripture.

That seems pretty straightforward to me. Next time I will join Horton in arguing against Wayne Grudem on the nature of present-day prophecy, but then perhaps find a way to disagree with both of them slightly.


There is a sense in which you should stop seeking God’s will

Sorry, I plan to continue thinking about miraculous spiritual gifts soon, but just one more thought on the will of God from one of the world’s best teachers in the last century:

The way almost every Christian I know seeks God’s will is wrong

Not sinful, per se. Just misguided. This post is soooooo good.

Read about how to think about God’s will here

Are miraculous spiritual gifts for today? A Reformed Baptist perspective

In light of last year’s Strange Fire controversies, this felt like a relevant topic to talk about (several months have passed since I first thought of posting this, sorry). A few years ago, Michael Horton wrote a great piece on the tension between the Reformed tradition and the relatively new Charismatic tradition. It is long, but you should read it here. I will try to tackle his article piece by piece over several posts. There is a lot more I agree with him on than that I disagree with him on.

Let me put that last sentence in context: I am currently a continuationist (meaning, I believe God could give the spiritual gifts of tongues, interpretation, and prophecy to the 21st century local church). Michael Horton is a cessationist (meaning he believes God gave the gifts of tongues, interpretation, and prophecy only for the time of the Apostles). But on the issue of miraculous spiritual gifts (like tongues, interpretation, and prophecy), there is a lot more I agree with him on that that I disagree with him on. You’ll see, hopefully.

Here is a great paragraph by Horton, in challenging the views of men like Mark Driscoll and C.J. Mahaney:

There is much to admire in these men and their labors. I am not targeting these friends and brothers, but pleading with them—and with all of us—to rediscover the ordinary means of grace, ordinary ministry, ordinary offices, and to long for a genuine revival: that is, a surprising blessing of God on his ordinary ministry in our day. The false choice between head and heart, the Spirit and the Word, has been a perennial polemic of the radical wing of Protestantism. Mark Driscoll’s plea above reveals that dangerous separation of the Spirit from his Word. Only by assuming such a cleavage can one argue that Reformed theology ignores the Holy Spirit.

He was referring to a quote by Mark Driscoll, in which Driscoll accuses Presbyterians of often ignoring the Holy Spirit. I agree wholeheartedly with Horton on the false dichotomies that Charismatic believers pose.

I also agree with these statements:

Reformed theology is not just the “five points” and “sovereign grace,” but a rich, full, and systematic confession. It’s a human and therefore fallible attempt to wrestle with the whole counsel of God—in both doctrine and practice, soteriology and ecclesiology.

I think people should not call themselves “Reformed” if they are not in a Reformed church (or at least a church moving in that direction). Pastors cannot be personally “Reformed” but not try to reform the church. Church members cannot be personally “Reformed” while the pastors hate Reformed theology. The fundamental issue in the Reformation was the church! Thank you, Michael Horton, for clarity here.

Now just a quick note on where we start to have different trajectories. He writes concerning Ephesians 4.11:

Against both Rome and the radical Anabaptists, the Reformers argued that prophet and apostle are extraordinary offices, for a foundation-laying era. They are sent at key moments in redemptive history, and their writings are added to the canon of Scripture.

I agree that prophet and apostle are extraordinary offices. What is not clear from Ephesians 4, or the rest of Scripture, is that the office of apostle and prophet are to be equated with those whose writings are added to the canon of Scripture. I am not sure if that is exactly what Horton was saying or not. Clearly, the writings of Apostles and Prophets make up the canon of Scripture. But it is not clear that the 13 epistles of Paul are the only 13 letters he ever wrote, or that John never wrote anything besides John, 1, 2, 3 John, and Revelation. And not all the prophets and all the Apostles contribute to the canon. Those two offices cannot be equated with “writers of Scripture.” Again, I do not know if Horton was trying to argue for that, but confusion on this issue leads to the (what I think is naive) argument that “prophecy cannot exist today because the canon is closed.”

The canon is closed. But I do not think that means prophecy cannot then exist. Since Horton’s article then moves to examine prophecy, that will probably be what I do next.