Thursday, August 15, 2013

Feminist cessationists

I'll comment on a few recent remarks by Ed Dingess:

How can we know that Benny Hinn did not receive a legitimate revelation that God has disclosed to him but to no one in Scripture? If we affirm the possibility of extra biblical revelation, I do not see how we can judge the claims these men make, to be false without at the same time engaging in a level of arbitrariness foreign to all rational thought.
If I allow the extra biblical principle in Pentecostal theology, I am indeed in quicksand without any escape from any of the outrageous claims that supposedly come through those revelations. A man may hear that God wants him to divorce his Baptist or Presbyterian wife and marry a fellow Pentecostal who will follow him in his supposed Holy Ghost filled ecstatic utterances. Who are we to say he is wrong. We may say you cannot divorce her because of Paul. He will retort that Paul was speaking of a general situation where the man never heard from God. But I have heard from God and therefore, I must obey! How shall we respond to this person? They have a word from God as sure as any word from God written down in Scripture.

What's strange about Ed's rank skepticism is the way it flies in the face of NT injunctions to test prophets and prophecies (1 Cor 14:29; 1 Thes 5:21; 1 Jn 4:1-3). 

That Hays would buy into the manufactured nonsense that modern prophets are different that ancient prophets and that false prophecy today is viewed by God differently than it was in ancient times is most outrageous and egregious.

I notice that Ed didn't actually quote me saying that. 

i) To begin with, it's not, first of all, a distinction between OT and NT prophecy. Rather, there's a distinction that goes all the way back to the OT itself, where you have two different kinds of OT prophecy. Here's the locus classicus:

6 And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. 7 Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. 8 With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the Lord (Num 12:6-8).
a) This draws a broad distinction between verbal and visionary revelation. God speaks to Moses "face-to-face." It's possible that that's an anthropomorphic way of depicting verbal revelation. However, given the role of revelatory angels in Exodus, I think it alludes to the Angel of the Lord conversing with Moses. God communicates to Moses in words–in contrast to images.  
b) Visionary revelation can be further subdivided into representational visions and allegorical visions. Allegorical visions employ figurative imagery. That makes them somewhat enigmatic. 
ii) That has a NT counterpart. Acts 2:17 is the locus classicus.
iii) On the face of it, the process Paul outlines in 1 Cor 14:29 is very different from Deut 18:15-22. 
iv) If Ed deems NT prophecy to be just as authoritative as OT prophecy, then that makes Ed an egalitarian feminist rather than a complementarian. That would make the oracles of a NT prophetess like the daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9) just as binding as apostolic teaching. So much for male headship. 
v) Some commentators (e.g. Darrell Bock, David Peterson, Eckhard Schnabel) defend the veracity of Agabus (Acts 21:10-11). And I think they are right to defend the veracity of his oracle. At the same time, they defend ir by making allowance for the fairly loose relationship between the wording of the oracle and the actual event. And that imprecision would make sense if his oracle was based on a vision, like an allegorical dream. That would make the oracle analogically true.
vi) You don't have to be Pentecostal to think NT prophecy may differ from OT prophecy. For instance:
When one compares prophecy under the old covenant with prophecy under the new, it is apparent that God has not given new covenant prophets the kinds of visions that he gave Daniel, Isaiah, and Jeremiah that led to inscripturated revelation…Prophecy under the new covenant is on a smaller scale and relates directly to the establishment and edification of local churches. C. Arnold, Ephesians (Zondervan 2010), 258. 
[Prophets] in Paul's own time were prompted by the Spirit to speak a particularly relevant message to an individual (1 Cor 14:24-25) or to the church (Acts 11:27-30; 15:32; 21:10-11). These messages that prophets communicate seem to come at particularly critical moments in the lives of people or in the history of the church. F. Thielman, Ephesians (Baker 2010), 274.


  1. I'd also say that the principle of Summa Scriptura (or more popularly known as Prima Scriptura) was in operation ever since revelations were first written down (inscripturated) and recognized by the the Covenant people of God. Ever since the written Torah was given through Moses by God, all future alleged revelations were to be tested by and in a sense in submission to previously recognized Scripture. Whether the alleged revelation was given immediately verbally, in written form, via vision, dream, (etc.) or mediately via angelic message, passed down oral tradition (etc.). For example, any alleged revelations given during Daniel's time would need to be tested by the Torah and any other additional Scripture that was recognized by that time by the people as inspired by God.

    This principle was true even when and if there wasn't unanimity as to the contents of the Canon since there would always be a core minimalistic Canon by which Jews could test alleged further revelation. This was also the case when it came to the revelations of Christ and the Apostles. Though Christ, as God, could "pull rank" and give revelation without appealing to or being in submission to existing Scripture, He nevertheless submitted His teaching to Scripture and as the fulfillment of OT Scripture. He was just submitting to the principle He Himself as God laid down and expected the people of God to follow. That's true whether you think John 5:39-40 is in the indicative or the imperative. See also Matt. 5:17-18; Luke 16:29; 24:25-27, 44-45, 46-47; John 10:35; Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 1 Pet. 1:10-12; 2 Pet. 1:19-21; Deut. 13:1ff; 18:15ff; Isa. 34:16; (possibly) 8:19-20.

    Though Steve previously disagreed, I believe even OT Prophets and NT Apostles needed to be tested in so far that if they ever contradicted past recognized Scripture, they were to be rejected. Since OT Prophets and NT Apostles were still human and weren't impeccable. They were still sinners. As I commented in previous blogs (Here, Here, Here)

    [Continued in next post]

    1. Abraham was a prophet of sorts (Gen. 20:7) and he committed many sins of unbelief.

      Moses sinned by striking the rock a second time (Num. 20:11-12).

      Sin can include declaring false prophecies/revelations (cf. the prophet of Bethel 1 Kings 13). While it can be disputed, a possible interpretation of the passage is that a genuine prophet of God pronounced a false prophesy to test another prophet.

      Nathan the prophet could give bad advice (1 Chron. 17:2-4).

      The prophet Micaiah prophesied sarcastically, even if only temporarily (1 Kings 22:15ff.//2 Chron 18:14ff.).

      Jeremiah lied about a conversation he had with king Zedekiah (Jer. 38:24ff.).

      Elisha legitimately used subterfuge (2 Kings 6:19). This shows how prophets would sometimes "finesse the truth". He did a similar thing regarding his prophecy to Ben-Hadad through Hazael (2 Kings 8:10ff.).

      Jonah disobeyed the LORD.

      Isaiah admitted he had unclean lips (Isa. 6:5).

      And God was not averse to using people with bad character to deliver prophecies (cf. Balak Num. 22-24).

      Even the Apostle Judas fell and Paul said that if he started preaching a different Gospel than the one he and the other Apostles previously preached he should be rejected Gal. 1:8. The Lord Jesus commended the Ephesians for testing professing Apostles and rightfully determining they were false in Rev. 2:2. Admittedly the 12 original Apostles (Matthias replacing Judas) and Paul were greatest of all the apostles, but the NT suggests that there were other apostles besides them (presumably inferior to them). Also, I admit that there was a special anointing on the Apostles (capital "A") since Pentecost that only made them hypothetically liable to apostasy and error when officially preaching in the place of Christ as His representatives (similar to the higher OT prophets like Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elijah et cetera).

    2. If I allow the extra biblical principle in Pentecostal theology, I am indeed in quicksand without any escape from any of the outrageous claims that supposedly come through those revelations.


      We may say you cannot divorce her because of Paul. He will retort that Paul was speaking of a general situation where the man never heard from God.

      Given Prima Scriptura, modern prophecies are to be tested by Scripture and both the OT and NT teach that God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16) and would not have someone leave a faithful spouse to either commit adultery or marry another person (Matt. 5:31-32; 19:9). So, such an alleged "prophecy" is clearly a false prophecy since God wouldn't contradict His written inspired Scripture.

    3. While the ESV doesn't say it, the NASB and the NKJV says God hates divorce in Mal. 2:16.

    4. Also Peter, along with others, were described by Paul as being "not straightforward about the truth of the gospel" (Gal. 2:14). If we can rightfully charge Pope Honorius I as "teaching heresy" contrary to established Catholic doctrine by his behavior (even if he didn't "officially" preach monothelitism); then I think it's only consistent to say that Peter also implicitly "taught" error by his behavior. And so, it took another Apostle to correct him. If Peter persisted in his error he would have become a heretic and deserved Paul's anathema (Gal. 1:8-9). I think it was only hypothetically possible for one of the Apostles (capital "A") to apostatize or become heretics, unlike the other apostles (small "a") for whom it it may have been a genuine possibility. God, would make sure that they (the original 11, Matthias and Paul) would not persist in error for long (and especially till death) since Christ prayed that God would sanctify them and preserve them (in the High Priestly prayer of the Lord in John 17). They were the foundation of the Church (Eph. 2:20).

      However, there are many passages in Scripture that acknowledge professing believers did fall away (either temporarily or permanently). Some of these people may have been "apostles" (small "a", rather than capital "A" Apostles). For example:

      At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!- 2. Tim 4:6

      You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.- 2 Tim. 1:15

      For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.- 2 Tim. 4:10

      Hymenaeus and Philetus ( 2 Tim. 2:17; Alexander of 1 Tim. 1:20 may have been the same person as Acts 19:33 and so may never have been a believer).

      But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.- 2 Pet. 2:1

      Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing,- 2 Pet. 2:15

      While the Apostles (capital "A") ultimately wouldn't can couldn't fall away, they had to also persevere since they knew that in themselves they could apostatize if it weren't for the Grace of God (Gal. 1:8; 1 Cor. 9:27). Each was accountable to Scripture and the rest of the Apostles (who checked and balanced each other). The highest authority being Scripture (i.e. Prima Scriptura).