If it’s not in the 66 books of the Bible, God didn’t say it.
– John MacArthur
I'm sorry, I don't get what's so funny. I'm aware that a lot of people don't like it when John Mac says something absolutist when it comes to how God communicates to us, or doesn't. I get that. But I'm still not clear on what's so funny?
I myself didn't say his statement was funny. Problem with his statement is that he's making a general claim about what God says or doesn't say, but his claim is not, in itself, a divine statement about the scope of divine speech. Hence, his claim carries a self-disqualifying implication. For his criterion excludes his own statement from the scope of the claim. But in that case it has no force regarding the extent of divine disclosure.
My comment might seem a little out of place, but at this point I would like to hijack the thread briefly and say something which I have been meaning to say for some time.I just wanted to thank Steve and the rest of the Triablogue team for researching and writing this blog. I have read many apologetics websites over the years, but Triablogue is (for me at least) the best and most helpful. I appreciate your labors.
I didn't know MacArthur was a Clarkian ;-)
That's a pretty forced reading. In the broader context of the sermon, he's contrasting the Bible as the inspired word of God with competing non-Christian religious texts. Here's the quote in context with the preceding paragraph:"There is only one God, and He has spoken in one book. All other supposed revelations from God are not at all from God; they are the concoctions of men, and for the most part, demon-inspired men. From the Koran, for example, the Bhagavad-Gita, the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, Patterson Glover Frye, Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, to all the false prophets, all the seers, all the cultists, all the religious gurus, all the religious leaders, all the world religions – it is all deception.It is all fabrication, both human and demonic. It is all wrong. God has spoken, and He has spoken in one book, and that book is the Bible. Now, that simplifies the issue. It is not complicated to sort out the matter of religion. Most people think it is complicated to sort out the matter of religion because there are so many competing religions, and the idea today is to be tolerant of all of them, and to allow everyone to embrace their own religion, feeling that it’s all ending up in the same heaven of heavens, no matter how you approach it. But the Bible claims just the opposite; that anything that contradicts the Bible, anything that is a competing source of revelation to the Bible, is not from God. If it is not contained in the 66 books of the Bible, it is not the word of God. If it’s not in the 66 books of the Bible, God didn’t say it."I get that MacArthur occasionally includes logical non-sequiturs in his sermons, but his point here is valid, even if that capstone statement is roughly stated. Obviously it's self-refuting as a stand-alone statement; but as a general claim in context it seems pretty uncontroversial.
Yeah, but his slogan is the sort of statement he uses to dismiss continuationism out of hand. And it's a fallacious formulation. He may refer to cults and Islam, but his primary target is the charismatic movement. He's shadowboxing with the charismatic movement. That's his hobbyhorse.To be sure, the charismatic movement is rife with deception and self-deception.
Let me start by agreeing with you: if we lift that slogan and try to simply make it serve as an anti-continuationism argument...it fails. No doubt.But I'd disagree that in this particular instance he's shadowboxing with the charismatic movement. Since he wrote Charismatic Chaos back in the early 90s that group was largely off his radar until summer of 2009 (if a keyword search of his sermon transcripts is anything to go by), and this article is a transcript of a sermon that was delivered 3 years prior to that, with a wholly different opponent in view. If you read the transcript, neither charismaticism nor pentacostalism come up once. The charismatic movement hasn't always been his hobbyhorse...his focus has shifted around over the years.Maybe I'm over-thinking it. But since there are plenty of places where he's actually engaging with continuationism that could be disagreed with, picking this particular one just seemed decidedly anachronistic and didn't make sense to me.Anyhow, that's probably more ink than needed to be spilled, but there you have it. FWIW, I really appreciate you and your blog. Thanks Steve.
The interesting thing is that one could use the 66 books of the Bible to demonstrate this to be false. In the Old Testament there are many references to (true) prophets, like Micaiah and Hulda, of whom only a brief prophecy was recorded. Presumably, for them to be known as prophets, they would have had to have prophecied more than that. It's just so happens that the other prophecies were occasional, while the recorded ones had enduring relevance. I think we should be able to apply a similar paradigm to prophecy in the New Covenant era. The canon is closed, and as such, there will be no new revelations of enduring relevance and theological significance. But this shouldn't preclude God from issuing occasional guidance to the Church and individual believers within it, although of course any claims to prophecy must be taken with great care. "Test everything. Hold fast to that which is good."