Tuesday, January 13, 2009

'Prophesy' (aka: continued revelation) ~ THIS is what I've been saying...

…(most recently HERE, HERE, and HERE) for quite some time regarding present-day claims of prophesy by our Charismatic, Vineyard, Signs and Wonders, Pentecostal, Reformed Charismatic, and Charismatic Calvinist friends.

It also highlights why I’m not particularly a fan of Wayne Grudem’s—while I can and do respect him for his work in many areas, his understanding/position causes great concern in significant areas of theology and Xian practice. (Please always remember that one questioning, examining, and challenging the views of others does NOT equal attacking.)

In the second century, postapostolic Christianity faced a serious challenge from the prophetic crisis known as the "New Prophecy" or Montanism. This labeling of Montanism as the "New Prophecy" by its adherents shows why the early church rejected Montanism: it was "new" in that it differed markedly from the early church's understanding of the nature of New Testament prophets and prophecy. As noted, this understanding by the early church came from the standards set by the Old Testament for the evaluation of prophets. Before being checked, Montanism spread rapidly throughout the Greco-Roman world and quickly won many adherents, so that even the church father Tertullian was swept away by its claims. Such a sharp departure from accepted biblical norms of prophecy, especially in its content and manner of expression, caused great alarm. The crisis became so acute that the church struggled for decades to quell the swelling numbers of adherents to Montanism.

Now in the 20th century, Christianity is once again facing a prophetic crisis. Its original impetus occurred in the Pentecostal and charismatic movements, which developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Recently, however, the momentum has come from the Vineyard and the Signs and Wonders movements, which have spread rapidly among churches that have held traditionally to the "cessationist" viewpoint regarding New Testament prophecy. These groups essentially argue that prophets and prophecy are active today as they were in the first-century church.

Defense of this practice of "prophecy" has recently come from the work of Wayne A. Grudem, who is active in a Vineyard-affiliated church and is an associate professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deer-field, Illinois. Grudem's arguments have become a primary justification for this form of "prophecy" not only in Vineyard fellowships but also among such groups as the Signs and Wonders movement and the Kansas City Fellowship of prophets. Accolades for his view are coming from within and without the charismatic and Pentecostal movements, while some express hope that this work could be used as a means of fostering dialogue between cessationists and noncessationists.

Since Grudem's work has become a mainstay of defense among charismatic groups and since calls for dialogue and unity between cessationists and noncessationists are being voiced based on his writings, his central thesis and major supporting arguments must be analyzed in order to determine their validity…

[Conclusion] In light of the substantial negation of the major premises of Grudem's hypothesis, his assertions regarding two forms of New Testament prophecy cannot stand. Close examination of his hypothesis reveals critical weaknesses and also outright contradictions of the biblical data. Hence this major justification of the practice of "congregational" prophecy among such charismatic groups as the Vineyard and Sign and Wonders movements evaporates. The idea of a bifurcation of the prophetic gift into two distinct forms has no support either from the biblical data or from the church's handling of the Montanist controversy in the second century. Such a hypothesis is also invalid for promoting dialogue between cessationist and noncessationist camps, because it does not provide valid grounds for the justification of the present practice of prophecy among noncessationist groups. Grudem's hypothesis also should be viewed with alarm. Since prophecy has the assumption of revelational authority from the Holy Spirit, the idea of "mistaken" prophecy has the potential of doing untold harm to the church.
(all emphasis mine)

Farnell, F. David, “Does The New Testament Teach Two Prophetic Gifts?”, Bibliotheca Sacra 150 (Jan-Mar 1993): 62-88

1 comment:

John said...

Sounds very good.

I have and study Grudem's S.T., but do not hold to his views regarding "gifts." It's hard for me to understand how reformed theology and charismatic beliefs go together, but I know that they are both being held by many of the same folk.