Thursday, November 07, 2013

Hodge on prophecy

BC Hodge has some interesting remarks about prophecy. I think Hodge is proposing a criterion for modern prophecy. To be genuine, modern prophecy must satisfy this condition. It's less about what prophecy is, than how it occurs. The mode, viz., angelic apparition,  altered state of consciousness (i.e. dream, trance). 

In biblical prophecy, God’s revelation is received through an angel, a vision, or a dream. The only other way God has ever communicated directly was through a visible manifestation such as the theophany on Sinai and through the incarnation. All other prophets and apostles, apart from receiving revelation through a physical manifestation, receive it through an angel, a vision, or a dream. The NT does not depart from this (e.g., even Paul receives his revelation from Christ, both in conversion and teaching, through visions).
A vision is a dream given in a trance-like state, while the person is still awake. For instance, the seer is described as one who prophecies with his eyes wide open. Dreams are given to people who are not prophets/seers, but amateurs who cannot place themselves in trances.
Hence, God does not speak in the Bible by dropping a thought in your head. He speaks audibly in a dream, vision, angel, or theophany. You can hear what He says while awake or in a trance. His thoughts are not blended with your own. So the guy who went into no trance before he tells you that God just spoke to Him is putting forth a new way of God speaking to mankind that is not to be found in the Bible. 
So I would conclude that the "word of knowledge" was either a reference to prophecy, and therefore, interchangeable with it (telling us it was received by way of a vision), or it was some sort of sixth-sense God gave an individual to know something he needed to know in a particular moment to communicate the truth/edify the church. I really don't know. Maybe it exists today as well. I really don't know. I've seen a lot of it. I've seen a lot of false instances of it as well. It's hard to know, so I don't spend my time harping on whether these smaller gifts are still in play, mainly because I don't really know what they are. But I don't really see genuine prophecy anymore, where the individual has gone into a trance, or a dream, or has been visited by an angel or something.


  1. The whole article is excellent. I disagree with some of his positions, but overall I think Hodge makes excellent points.

  2. Where does Hodge get the idea that prophecy is only through angels, visions or dreams? He seems to ignore occasions of prophesy occurring immediately in OT and NT without any hint of the disclosure being angelic, visionary or dreams (ex. Chronicles reports the Spirit coming upon persons who begin to speak; no evidence 1 Co 14 prophecy is based on these [14.30], though they would not necessarily exclude them either; etc.). Is there evidence that all of the prophesies written in OT were from these three means?). Richard Bauckham speaks of both oraclar prophecy (a word that comes to the prophet to speak to the hearer(s) and visionary prophecy ("Climax of Prophecy"; "The Theology of the Book of Revelation").

    1. That's a good point. An altered state of consciousness is more germane to visionary revelation because it's confusing to simultaneously see the real present-day world and at the same time you foresee the future world or perceive symbolic images. So it's basically necessary to block out physical vision in order to focus on that other reality. By contrast, hearing God speak doesn't require the suspension of physical hearing.