Way back when Adrian Warnock and I had a friendly and spirited debate on the issue of the charismatic gifts with Adrian taking the charismatic position and me taking the contrary one.
Here's a post of mine with links to all, or at least most, of the posts we exchanged in that debate.
Well, this thing is going again, this time between Adrian and Phil Johnson. Adrian is once again taking the charismatic position and Phil is defending the biblical position ;-)
It started with Phil talking about how we deal with those who say they have fresh revelations from God. He followed up with a post called Rubber Prophecies where he talks about the failed prophecies of the likes of Oral Roberts and Benny Hinn.
After that, Adrian jumped in and accused Phil of charismatic baiting and mentioned that said rubber prophecies were simply evidence of people's gullibility. Adrian then made some references to our debate.
In the meantime, Tim Challies has posted a review of Sam Storms book Convergence, which talks about a new convergence between Calvinists and charismatics. Tim is not persuaded by Storms book and believes that Storms is basing his case solely on experience.
Adrian counters by saying that he believes that cessationists do the same, and that even if he had never experienced any of the charismatic phenomena he would still believe in the continuation of the gifts solely from exegesis. He has never seen an exegetical argument from a cessationist that persuades him.
And now, another one of my good blogging buddies, John Schroeder of Blogotional has joined the fray (HT - Adrian) by saying that cessationism is completely antithetical to Scripture. However, he is not happy with the debate:
I am not happy with this debate. To my mind it evades the central issue. It's not if the gifts exist, but rather developing, using the great attributes of us hyper-rationalistic Calvinist types, good teaching about the gifts and their exercise.
And now back to Phil Johnson . . . Phil did not intend to instigate a debate, he simply wanted to deal with the issue of rampant false prophecies. And Phil mentions that if anyone is looking for a rancorous debate they are going to be disappointed. I would say the same. I have debated this with Adrian before and this is truly a debate among friends. So, if you follow the links I have provided please don't expect a bunch of flying fur. Though I am solidly on the cessationist side with Phil and Tim, contra John and Adrian, I agree fully with Phil's statement:
While I'm at it, let me say that if all charismatics were of the Mahaney/Piper/Grudem variety, I probably wouldn't pick a fight over our differences on the charismata. That's not to say I approve of any kind of charismatic mysticism, but if no one ever went any further than, say, the typical guy from Sovereign Grace Ministries, I don't think I would spend much energy arguing against them.
I told someone recently that if there were no PCA or other like denomination I would be eager and happy to join one of the Sovereign Grace churches. I love those guys even though I don't share their charismatic views.
Adrian has encouraged me to referee a debate between he and Phil here and I am happy to do so, although I am not sure Phil is looking for this. But, if Phil, Adrian or anyone else is interested I would be happy to draw up a set of questions for both sides to write about and post on their blogs and link back to.
For now though I do want to go back to Phil's original issue about prophecies. I do understand that Adrian and probably many charismatics are getting tired of having Oral Roberts and Benny Hinn thrown in their faces. I understand that those guys are an embarassment to the more thoughtful charismatics that have been mentioned here.
However Phil addresses a very common problem that I see in my ministry on a regular basis, and that is the question of how I am to deal with those who come to me telling me that God told them to do something. Granted, in my church and in the circles I run in I don't run into loons who claim God is holding them hostage for millions of dollars. But it is a near weekly occurrence for someone to tell me that God told them to do something, showed them something, or that He led them somewhere or somehow.
People like Phil and me cringe when we hear such things, because if something is truly a word from God then we are morally obligated to obey and do it. By definition a word from God carries the authority of God's name. And yet I, and I am sure Phil and others, regularly have people talking about things God told them to do with no scriptural justification, it is simply an impression. Similarly, we counsel people who are in the deepest of depressions because God did not follow through on something they were sure they heard Him say He would do.
That is the crux of where I think Phil was going with his posts. It's not just the Oral Roberts and Benny Hinn's of the world who are hearing from God, we've got people all around us who are hearing from God all the time. So, I am wondering how my charismatic friends would have me respond when someone tells them that God told them to do something.
Cessationists have a quick response to such things - no, God didn't tell you that! We believe that God ceased speaking with the closing of the canon. If God were to be speaking today I would have the same moral obligation to obey the words spoken today as I do the Bible because it is God who is speaking. So, this is a place we feel we cannot go and I would be curious to hear what my more charismatic friends have to say about this.
And by the way, since I have fired a salvo at the charismatics I will be more than happy to fire some salvo-type questions back at my own side if anyone is interested in pursuing this.