Saturday, August 10, 2013

"Extrabiblical revelation"

I'm going to comment on some recent remarks by Ed Dingess:
For the record, I come to this subject uniquely qualified to speak about it. I was converted in a Pentecostal Church some 34 years ago. I was a licensed minister in the Church of God, Cleveland TN.

Of course, the traffic goes both ways. Does that mean Sam Storms is uniquely qualified to speak about cessationism? 

Core to Pentecostal theology is that extra biblical revelation is legitimate…Once you open the door for extra biblical revelation, there is no way to close it.

Let's consider some examples of extrabiblical revelation:
But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man's wife” (Gen 20:3). 
10 Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. 12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! (Gen 28:10-12). 
Then he [Joseph] dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me” (Gen 37:9). 
After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile, 2 and behold, there came up out of the Nile seven cows attractive and plump, and they fed in the reed grass. 3 And behold, seven other cows, ugly and thin, came up out of the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. 4 And the ugly, thin cows ate up the seven attractive, plump cows. And Pharaoh awoke (Gen 41:1-4). 
When Gideon came, behold, a man was telling a dream to his comrade. And he said, “Behold, I dreamed a dream, and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian and came to the tent and struck it so that it fell and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat” (Jdgs 7:13).  
10 The visions of my head as I [Nebuchadnezzar] lay in bed were these: I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and its height was great. 11 The tree grew and became strong, and its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth. 12 Its leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, and the birds of the heavens lived in its branches, and all flesh was fed from it (Dan 4:10-11). 
And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they [the Magi] departed to their own country by another way (Mt 2:12). 
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him” (Mt 2:13). 
Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream” (Mt 27:19). 
It may not occur to a careless reader to classify these revelatory dreams as extrabiblical because we read about them in Scripture. In that secondary and derivative sense, they are "biblical."
But originally, these were extrabiblical revelations for the recipient. Abimelech, Jacob, Joseph, Pharaoh, the soldier, Nebuchadnezzar, the Magi, Jesus' stepfather, and Pilate's wife didn't learn about these dreams by reading the Bible. That's not their source of information. Rather, they received these dreams from outside the Bible, by direct revelation. 
Does Ed think these extrabiblical revelations were illegitimate? That's the problem for people like Ed. They pride themselves on their fidelity to Scripture, but they aren't really beginning with the witness of Scripture. Rather, they begin with their preconceive theory. 
Pentecostal theology naturally produces charlatans by permitting extra biblical revelation and the prosperity doctrine in conjunction with each other.

Extrabiblical revelation and the prosperity doctrine are logically separable. 

Now, I think Pentecostal theology does foster false expectations. That, in turn, leads to predictable excesses, abuses, and disillusionment. 

Keep in mind that this cuts both ways. Historically, hardline cessationism can lead to Deism or veiled atheism (e.g. Charles Chauncy, Jonathan Mayhew, Conyers Middleton).  

Hays points to a tiny portion of Pentecostals, a very tiny portion as if the presence of this infinitesimally small number is really a better representation of Pentecostal theology than Benny Hinn, Robert Tilton, Ken Hagan, Ken Copeland, Fred Price, etc. 

Ed is equivocating between numerical representation and which representatives of a position make the best case for that position.
The Church is a mess, she will always be a mess, so save your energy and stop this nonsense of trying to straighten the Church up. This position is absolutely preposterous.

What's preposterous is Ed's characteristic misrepresentation. He's an unscrupulous critic of unscrupulous charismatics. Two of a kind. 


  1. Here's another great example:

    And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Gen. 1:3)

    This one wasn't included in Scripture for thousands of years after it was spoken. There are many similar examples in Genesis; which is one of my favorite sources of extrabiblical revelation.

  2. Pentecostal theology naturally produces charlatans by permitting extra biblical revelation and the prosperity doctrine in conjunction with each other.

    Roger Sapp's materials (books and A/V) on finances are the most Biblically balanced I've personally read. They talk about things like contentment, sacrificial giving, exposing abuses in tithing, acknowledging that (ultimately) we own nothing and God owns all things and we are only God's stewards etc. Interestingly, Sapp's view on tithing is that it isn't required under the New Covenant. He even denounces the abuses in the modern practice of tithing. One can question his exegesis, but he's one example of a charismatic who's not teaching people a system of giving in order to line his own pockets. When he speak at a church there is no fee nor a minimum offering. He lives by the principle "freely you have received, freely give" (Matt. 10:8b). The fact is that there are many charismatics who are living as stewards of God's blessings rather than setting up their own private kingdoms. Since they aren't looking to become rich it's only natural that they won't be the ones who are always on TV manipulating people to give them money.

  3. I have to say that continuationists differ on the nature of OT and NT prophecies. But a common thread in most charismatic understandings is that OT prophecies by a prophet like Jeremiah who heard directly from God and spoke directly for God publicly to the entire nation (even the world) were either right or wrong. If they were wrong, then they were false prophets deserving of stoning. That's unlike the kind of prophecy in the New Testament where Paul (in 1 Cor. 14:29-33) admonishes 2 or 3 prophets to prophesy one by one with the others judging the prophesies of each. That kind of judging wasn't done in the OT. Or at least for OT prophets like Jeremiah and Isaiah.

    A similar situation is in 1 Thess. 5:19-21 where Paul commanded all prophecies to be tested and whatever was good to be held on to. Apparently, some of the past prophecies given in Thessalonica weren't "good" and it lead to some Christians there to despise prophecy and prophesying. That's why Paul had to say in verse 20 "Do not despise prophecies."

    Paul also wrote in Rom. 12:6, " Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith." Evidently, the degree of benefit (maybe even of accuracy) of a prophecy was dependent on the degree of faith or experience a person with the gift of (New Testament) prophecy had.

    This proportionality might also be what Peter was alluding to when he wrote, "11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies..." (1 Pet. 4:11).

    Apparently, people grew in their proficiency in the exercise of spiritual gifts. If that's true for one gift, that might be true for other gifts like the word of knowledge, gifts of healing, gift of faith etc. That's 4 NT passages in all that suggest that NT prophecies given with the NT gift of prophecy didn't have the same kind of authority as OT prophecies. While Steve might disagree with my position, he did make a good point in another blog. He wrote, "Luke treats Agabus as a genuine prophet, yet Paul feels free to disregard his advice." If Agabus as a prophet like Jeremiah, then Paul had no business disregarding Agabus' advice. It seems to me that Paul accepted the prophecy as accurate, but disagreed with Agabus' interpretation and application.