Cessationism in a Nutshell

Last night I recorded a discussion with Adrian Warnock on cessationism. It will be available this coming Saturday — Premier Christian radio site will stream live on Saturday at 9:30am ET or 2:30pm UK.

As I hope the discussion will make clear, I know and understand that responsible continuationists affirm the doctrine of sola Scriptura. What I do not yet know, despite repeated questioning, is why they do.

My trouble is this. I have no category in my mind for prophecy lite, or Word of God kinda, or deutero-God-said.

If Henry Smith says, “God said x, y, and z to me,” that claim is either true or false. If it true, then what is the distinction in authoritative status between what God said to Henry Smith and what God said to Jeremiah? What possible basis could I have for taking one of them less seriously?

It is a serious question, and while I believe we had a robust and charitable discussion, I don’t believe it was addressed.

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Michael
Guest

Pastor Wilson, Thanks for continuing to engage on this topic – can’t wait to hear the discussion between you and Adrian. Perhaps I’ve missed it somewhere, but when I read these posts from you I can’t help but wonder how you would advise us to handle 1 Corinthians 14.  It seems that Paul *does* have a category for prophecy that is not revelatory-on-par-with-Isaiah.  He says the one who prophesies speaks for upbuilding, encouraging, and consolation.  And he encourages all the Corinthians to seek that gift, but to be deferential and controlled.   It just doesn’t seem like Paul is saying,… Read more »

Michael
Guest

Also, the comment box is funny: it appeared to have paragraph breaks when I was typing my comment, but when I posted it was all jumbled together.  Sorry for the disorganized block of text.

Scott P
Guest
Scott P

Why not cut to the chase and sit down with Sam Storms? As far as I have seen he has the most scripturally sound defense of Continuationism. If you can manage to best Sam Storms and you can move on to other issues.

Joshua Nieuwsma
Guest
Joshua Nieuwsma

Does the preface we find in the Scriptures for prophetic words “Thus saith the Lord” have any bearing? Perhaps there is a distinction between God giving a charge to someone to speak on His behalf to others, and God speaking to an individual. Otherwise what do we do with all the instances of people who have heard the voice of God telling them or guiding them in a particular way. I’ve read many stories of people who felt God’s presence and claim to have heard Him speak words of comfort or direction.

Philip C
Guest

Michael,  I’ll assume you are right, and there is such a thing as “prophecy light”, which is not equivalent to the  full strength, real deal, prophecy given to Hosea, and Paul in this chapter is teaching us how to deal with it in services. That would fit with the command “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.” And that is an admission that a ‘prophecy’ may be fallible. You have to acknowledge it’s not God speaking to you, it’s God inspiring or enlightening you into an ah-ha moment. John MacAurthur is doing exactly the right… Read more »

Robert
Guest
Robert

Were all of Paul’s known letters included in Canon? We know here is a lost letter to the Laodiceans. I have heard that there might have been a third letter to the Corinthians. Are there letters that have been deliberately left out?

soylentg
Member

Michael, you said “It seems that Paul *does* have a category for prophecy that is not revelatory-on-par-with-Isaiah.  He says the one who prophesies speaks for upbuilding, encouraging, and consolation.”  It just so happens that I have been doing a scripture reading from the book of Isaiah along with providing a short introduction to that reading each week for the church I am a member of.  You would be amazed how much Isaiah focuses on upbuilding, encouraging and consolation.  Strongs gives the definition of the greek word in 1 Corinthians 14 that is translated as prophesy as “to foretell events, divine, speak under… Read more »

Brad Jones
Guest
Brad Jones

 
Pastor Wilson, do you believe that preaching is Spirit-inspired/prompted, yet fallible? What I mean is: do you believe that the Holy Spirit works through fallible means? Does God regenerate people through imperfect preaching? 
If God does do that, then you should have no problem believing in what continuationists call “the NT gift of prophecy.” It’s Spirit-prompted/inspired, yet fallible, just like preaching.

Seth B.
Guest
Seth B.

All: It’s fine to say that there *could* be a category in between fallible and infallible. What’s the exegetical evidence?

Michael
Guest

St. Lee,   Thanks for the discussion.  I probably should have included one more comment in my question to Doug, which relates directly to your question:   If Paul only had one category for prophecy – infallible, authoritative, a.k.a. scripture – why the admonition to weigh what is said?  Or, as in 1 Thessalonians: Do not despise prophetic utterances, but test everything, and hold to what is good.   You may likely respond that the simple answer is that false prophets exist, so Paul is urging his hearers to work to discern false prophets and true prophets. But then when I… Read more »

Moor
Guest
Moor

I can’t help but hear a certain silence in distinguishing between the “God told me X” crowd and the “God continues to use the spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12/14 to edify the Church” crowd.  The major difference between the two is to be found in Paul’s clear implication that these gifts are meant for the community — with the supporting proposition that the community then has the responsibility of discerning whether or not the expression is, indeed, from God.  ———————————————————————————————   Perhaps you see no difference, Doug, but the latter invites submission to the shared mind of Christ in… Read more »

Seth B.
Guest
Seth B.

All, but especially: What standards and procedures should one use to discern whether the person who says “God told me X” is an infallible utterance or not.

Steve Perry
Guest
Steve Perry

Doug’s really got me confused now!  After 1900 years, the Holy Spirit revealed to him that the historical church was wrong in its worship of God.  The wearing a scarf or hat by women in worship was an artificial second covering not needed.  The church never understood that only long hair is supposed to be the true practice.  So I thought Doug was in the continuationist camp?   

Seth B.
Guest
Seth B.

Steve: Sarcasm aside, it is NOT true that historically the church has ALWAYS said head coverings  = hats or scarves. Doug does his best to interpret the Bible, but interpretation does not equate to additional revelation.

Jon
Guest
Jon

The battle between cessationism and continuationism was played out early on in church history.  The cessationists won.  That is no proof that their side was right.  I do think cessationism makes more sense given a closed canon which serves as our final authority.  However, God is active in the world and in our lives in an ongoing way through the Holy Spirit.  It is logical to expect our experience to bear that out.  I do not think either category fully explains the situation of the church today.

Seth B.
Guest
Seth B.

“However, God is active in the world and in our lives in an ongoing way through the Holy Spirit.  It is logical to expect our experience to bear that out.” Active *in what way* though? Just answer this question for a start: does God speak infallibly like he did with Paul, Moses, and Isaiah? If He does, can your provide a Scriptural argument for that? We can go from there.

soylentg
Member

Michael, when you ask “If Paul only had one category for prophecy – infallible, authoritative, a.k.a. scripture – why the admonition to weigh what is said?”, I think you are setting up a straw man whether you realize it or not.  I did not claim that all infallible, authoritative prophecy was included in scripture.  What I would suggest is that all prophecy that is inspired by God is infallible and authoritative.  As far as your suggestion that there is no command to put a put a false prophet out of your midst, well …maybe  not exactly, but there was the… Read more »

Tim H
Guest
Tim H

i was in a church led by a famous exponent of the “long-hair” school of interpretation, yet there was a prominent woman in the congregation that virtually had a crew-cut (though with just a hint of feminine twirl); yet she was never rebuked or counseled to grow it out. So I sense a certain dishonesty in the long-hair expedient; it is a convenient escape-hatch, which however is not really believed.

Katecho
Member

Steve Perry wrote: The wearing a scarf or hat by women in worship was an artificial second covering not needed.  The church never understood that only long hair is supposed to be the true practice. Steve Perry should deal carefully with what Doug actually said.  Doug used the term “artificial” in the sense of artifact (of human hands), not in the sense of fake.  Doug offered that clarification at the time.  Also, Doug never said that long hair was the only true practice of head covering, if that is what Steve means by “only”.  Rather Doug said that hair covering… Read more »

Michael
Guest

Hi St. Lee,   Thanks for the discussion.  I’d love to talk more, but may be a bit as it’s dinner time in Oregon.   Certainly didn’t mean to imply that you thought all prophetic utterances were recorded in scripture – just that they should be regarded as scripture (which is essentially Doug’s view as I read it).  And thus my point that I think that Paul’s argument doesn’t make a lot of sense if that’s the case.  I’ll try to respond more later.   One more question just for clarity:  your understanding is that Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians… Read more »

soylentg
Member

I am not sure we are quite on the same page here Michael.  When I said  I did not claim that all infallible, authoritative prophecy was included in scripture, I said that because we know that there are prophets of God named in the Bible whose prophesies are not recorded in the Bible. I do agree that there were infallible, authoritative prophesies being uttered in Paul’s day which were not recorded, nor were they meant by God to be recorded as scripture – but I do not think that made them less authoritative.  I think you may be misunderstanding Pastor Wilson, but I won’t attempt to speak… Read more »

Michael
Guest

Would this have made it clearer: Certainly didn’t mean to imply that you thought all prophetic utterances were recorded in scripture – just that they should be regarded *as being on par* scripture (which is essentially Doug’s view as I read it).

Michael
Guest

Sorry for the repeated posts:  what I mean is, I understand that you are saying that any true prophecy from God has authority that is on par with scripture – whether it was recorded for us in scripture is a different story.  So should we encounter such a prophecy, we should regard it as being on par with scripture, which is basically what Doug is saying. All I’m saying is that it seems the way Paul instructed the Corinthians seems to imply his use of the term prophecy may have been a bit broader than that.  Thus my question about… Read more »

Shane Hull
Guest

Help me! I’m in a nut shell and there’s no miracle that can get me putt here!

Shane Hull
Guest

stupid spell check ruined my joke! outta not putt :)

Joshua
Guest
Joshua

Do you think Augustine was full of it when granting credibility to all those miracles described in the final book of the City or not?

bethyada
Member

While not addressing your question directly Doug, I think it important to note that even Scripture does not state that accuracy is the primacy test even in the old covenant. Deuteronomy teaches that an accurate seer who entices men away from the Lord must be executed. Jeremiah adds that accuracy in is important when the person prophecies prosperity, the prophet who speaks judgment is exempt if men repent at his message. This is not to say that accuracy is unimportant, but it does suggest that faithfulness to Christ and his teaching is more important.

Dan Phillips
Guest

I’ll know how well you did by whether or not Adrian Warnock is all over the internet saying you were mean and unfair, and he didn’t phrase himself right, and his tea was bad, and he had a bad connection, and Justin was biased, and he didn’t have enough time, and you were mean.

Jay
Guest
Jay

Dudes, I think the one thing we are missing is that THE LEADER SINGER FOR JOURNEY IS COMMENTING ON THIS BLOG!!!

Craig C. Capen
Guest
Craig C. Capen

Thank you on your tone on this subject.  I can give a rational explanation of why I, a continuationist, hold Sola Scripture and why the category of “Prophesy Lite” should be a category in your thinking.  Much of my explanation comes courtesy of Wayne Grudem’s book “The Gift of Prophesy in the New Testament” which I recommend. A key point is that NT prophesy is not OT prophesy.  OT prophets were “recognized” as such, and then they were authoritative (their words had scriptural authority.)  The successor to the OT prophet is the NT APOSTLE, whose words had scriptural authority.  We… Read more »

Alex
Guest
Alex

Thanks for the post and discussion Pastor Doug. I, likewise, am scratching my head. But it is not because I don’t have a category all figured out for ‘prophecy lite’. I do not have that category all figured out, but I DO have that category, because scripture has that category. The problem with only having the category of ‘thus says the Lord’ is that it dismisses NT prophesy all together. Even if we grant NT prophesy has ceased, the problem with cessationist categories are that they cannot account for NT prophesy. They cannot account for the prophetic word, that includes… Read more »

Andrew Lohr
Member

Will the Warnock discussion be available ONLY live, or also on Canonwired (or elsewhere) in due course? /   /   /   /   /   /   /   / Again:  The Bible repeatedly (sundry times and diverse places) mentions prophets whose prophecies it does not (or mostly does not) contain:  I Sam 10:5 (Samuel tells Saul he’ll meet a company of prophets), I Kings 18 (prophets sheltered by Ahab’s Obadiah), II Kings 2 (sons of the prophets), Jeremiah’s arrested colleague, Acts 21 (Agabus and Philip’s 4 daughters), I Cor 14.  So in order to be Biblical, we have got to recognize a category of… Read more »

Alex
Guest
Alex

In other words (if I may use more), it seems to me that cessationist categories are not insufficient simply because they may overlook the continuity of spiritual gifts like prophesy, but because they must, to be consistent, dismiss NT prophesy. Cessasionists can’t just have significant issues with Prophet John from calvary Pentecostal, but also with brother Alexis of the church in Corinth. We need more categories.

CPS
Guest
CPS

Craig,   Nathan Busenitz debunked the Grudem reading of Acts 21 good and well more than a year ago. http://bit.ly/1c71kFI   Briefly, though:   1. In 21:4 the text says “disciples,” not “prophets” (as you claim), and the text doesn’t indicate that “in the Spirit” means “prophecy.” In order to make your reading work, you have to actually import that meaning to the text. Contextually, it’s likely that the disciples in v. 4 are simply making godly, Christlike requests for Paul to stay (as opposed to requesting for purely fleshly reasons–e.g., Rom. 8:7-9). So you can’t make the argument from… Read more »

Joseph Hession
Member

If I may chime in… I recently witnessed a prophetic speaking in tongues followed by an interpreter in a church service.  I’m mostly skeptical of the fantastical, and my fleshly inclination is to poo-poo such things.  However, on this occasion, there was such a powerful impression weighing on me that this was genuine (I had this sense rising up in me well before the interpreter even offered the interpretation).  Then I heard the interpretation and felt a sense of even more confirmation that this was “from the Lord.” Here’s the interesting part.  What was the gist of the prophesy: “Go… Read more »

Moor
Guest
Moor

This being just one in a series of articles Doug has written on the subject, it would be unfair to characterize it as the whole argument or the whole of the argument for Cessationism.  But, he does call it “Cessationism in a Nutshell”, and the implication is that what we have here is the reduction of his argument, from which I conclude (with acknowledgment of prior bias, but especially in light of the eloquent responses above) that his nutshell needs breaking and that the nut needs to be put in the can with all the other varieties.  This issue is… Read more »

Brett R
Guest
Brett R

“It is a serious question, and while I believe we had a robust and charitable discussion, I don’t believe it was addressed.”
If this was not addressed and this is the argument in a nutshell, I will be interested to know if it was asked directly and not answered or not asked at all. If the former, it’s a dodge; if it was the latter, it’s a “you” problem (me thinks).
 

Adrian Warnock
Guest

Hi Doug,  Thanks for our chat, which I very much enjoyed. Thanks also for your good natured comments.  Have you read Grudem on this matter? I think he expresses very well what has been a long-held perspective among charismatics, even before he articulated it so clearly.  I have written about our view of prophecy quite a bit on my blog see this link  If you are interested Doug, I would be only too happy for you and I too record a second hour minus a moderator just talking about prophecy and expounding our differences on the various verses.  I reckon we… Read more »

Eli
Guest

Maybe reason is the highest authority. Reason is self-attesting, unquestionable because it makes questioning possible. The bible cannot attest unto reason. Even if it said, “reason is true” we would have no foundation for interpreting that as other than “reason is false”. Reason can attest unto the the authority of the bible as redemptive revelation (sola-scriptura). Reason may or may not be able to attest unto Henry Smith.

Jon
Guest
Jon

The difference for me is that Scripture is the Word of God.  It is our normative guide.  It is authoritative.  What someone learns from God on a personal basis is for that person and not for everyone.