Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Five Concerns about the Merging of Charismatic and Calvinistic Doctrine

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on August 13, 2010 at 7:06 am

There has been an attempt in recent days by some to merge Calvinism and the charismatic movement. Several factors have influenced this trend. Here are three:

First, movements and ministries like “Together for the Gospel” and “the Gospel Coalition” have commended charismatic ministers, churches, and their practices to young Calvinistic ministers and their churches.

Second, the merging of charismatic and Calvinistic theology has been promoted among young ministers by the widespread use and influence of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology in various evangelical schools and seminaries. Although there is much to commend in the devotional quality of Grudem’s work and in his generally Calvinistic Baptist perspective, reformed readers will not be able to affirm his advocacy of charismatic practices in the church.

Third, and perhaps most significantly, charismatic influenced “third wave” contemporary Christian music has largely replaced “traditional” worship liturgies in most evangelical and conservative Protestant churches, and now many of the lyrics for the newest songs are being influenced by the doctrinal resurgence of Calvinism.

Why should one be wary of this merging of charismatic and Calvinistic theology? Here are five specific concerns:

1. One cannot hold to the validity of charismatic “sign-gifts” in the church today and be consistently Biblical and reformed in his theological outlook.

At the outset we must understand that holding to Calvinistic soteriology is not enough to make a minister or church reformed. Reformation theology—including especially the Regulative Principle of worship—must also be applied to every other aspect of doctrine and practice in the church.

Based on sound Biblical exposition and demonstrated proofs, the classical Reformed creeds and confessions routinely rejected the continuation of charismatic gifts and experiences. The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689), for example, deals with this issue in its statement on Scripture:

Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary,those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased(emphasis added).

One cannot claim consistently to hold to reformation doctrine while also affirming non-cessationism.

2. The emphasis on modern day occurrences of the extraordinary and the miraculous undermines the Biblical emphasis on the “ordinary means” of grace.

When Naaman was told by Elisha to dip seven times in the Jordan, the leprous commander was offended that he was given such an ordinary task (2 Kings 5). He wanted an extraordinary experience!

In the New Testament, the clear emphasis for spiritual edification and growth is on the “ordinary means.” Believers are to pray (1 Thess 5:17); sing songs of praise (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16); preach (1 Tim 4:2); assemble together (Heb 10:24-25); read aloud the Bible (1 Tim 4:13), give offerings and alms (1 Cor 16:1-2). On the other hand, believers are not actively encouraged to practice or seek miraculous experiences or gifts.

3. Those who deny the cessation of extra-ordinary charismatic gifts and experiences in the church today ignore the Biblical parallel to the cessation of some Biblical offices.

After the resurrection and ascension of Christ, some gifts existed for a limited time to validate the ministry and authority of the apostles (cf. Mark 16:17-18; Acts 2:43; 5:12, 15; 14:3; 15:12; 19:11; 2 Cor 12:12). With the completion of the canon of Scripture these miraculous gifts ceased. A clear parallel exists in the New Testament relating to offices that existed in the post-apostolic era. The offices of apostle, prophet, and evangelist were “extraordinary” ones that did not extend beyond the age of the apostles, while, the “ordinary” offices of ministers, elders, and deacons have continued throughout this gospel age (cf. 1 Cor 12:28-31; Eph 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 3:1-12; Titus 1;5-9). For a convincing discussion of this point, see Walter J. Chantry, Signs of the Apostles: Observations on Pentecostalism Old and New (Banner of Truth, 1973) and Samuel Waldron, To Be Continued: Are The Miraculous Gifts For Today? (Calvary Press, 2005).

4. The promotion of non-cessationist doctrine fuels an overriding desire for extraordinary spiritual experiences that can lead to confusing theological beliefs and practices.

Theologian R. Scott Clark calls the evangelical desire for extraordinary experiences QIRE or “The Quest for Illegitimate Religious Experience” (see his book Recovering the Reformed Confession: Our Theology, Piety, and Practice [P&R, 2008]). He also notes how the claim of many evangelicals to be “open” to charismatic gifts and other phenomena leads some falsely to understand “ordinary” events as “extraordinary.” Here is an example. A child is sick and the church prays for her recovery. The child is treated by a doctor for the ailment and gradually recovers. The church then claims authoritatively that God healed the child because of their prayers. Certainly God is sovereign over the child’s health, and he may have been pleased to use the prayers of the church to bring about the child’s recovery. Scriptures gives clear instruction on the exercise of the ordinary means of prayer for the sick (cf. James 5:13-15). God can work miracles, including healing, according to his good pleasure. By definition of his own sovereign Godhood, God may choose to do as he pleases (cf. Dan 4:34-35). There is, however, absolutely no objective way to measure or evaluate if the church’s claim that its prayers resulted in the child’s miraculous recovery is true. Of necessity this conclusion would be a matter of faith. At any rate, if the child recovered after the church’s prayer, then this would have been the result of ordinary rather than extraordinary means. Again, the instrument of prayer is simply an ordinary means. God would have been no less sovereign, however, had the child not recovered (cf. Job’s response to suffering in Job 1:21). We might also ask how we would look at the circumstances if the child had been part of a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness church. If she recovered after they prayed for her in those false churches would we say that God miraculously answered their prayers as a means of affirming their doctrine and practice? What if the child had been part of an atheistic family, and they offered no prayer for her and yet she still recovered. Would we say God did a miracle in response to their unbelief? Seeking extraordinary experiences typically leads to subjective declarations and doctrinal confusion. Again, R. Scott Clark notes that those who embrace charismatic doctrine tend merely to interpret ordinary events as extraordinary ones. Clark pointedly asks why we do not see those who promote non-cessationism doing things that are truly miraculous as the early apostles and their associates did? Why do they not claim to be able to raise the dead as Peter and Paul did (cf. Peter’s raising of Tabitha in Acts 9:36-41 and Paul’s raising of Eutychus in Acts 20:9-12)? Why do they not claim to be able to be miraculously transported by the Spirit from one place to another as happened to Philip (cf. Acts 8:39)? The “miracles” that are claimed today are hardly comparable to the authenticating signs that accompanied the apostles. In truth, they are most often ordinary events give extraordinary spin.

5. The emphasis on extraordinary experience undermines the sufficiency and authority of Scripture.

This is most clearly stated in Christ’s account of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. The narrative concludes with the Rich Man begging Father Abraham to send Lazarus to his father’s house to warn his five brothers lest they too come to the place of torment (vv. 27-28). Abraham responds, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them” (v. 29). In other words, Abraham tells him that they have the Scriptures, and this should be enough to warn them of the reality of hell. The Rich Man protests, “No, Father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent” (v. 30). The Rich Man is essentially a non-cessationist. He believes that God should use an extra-ordinary event to change the hearts of his brothers. Surely, a spirit who comes back from the dead will make a difference! Abraham replies, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.” (v. 31). Indeed, from our present perspective we see how the greatest miracle in the world has already taken place. Christ has been raised from the dead! Yet, many remain unmoved, cold, and indifferent to the gospel. Jesus reminds us here that his preferred means of speaking to men is not through fantastic experiences but through the ordinary means of Scripture. Zeal for experience undermines, in truth, the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture.

Jeffrey T. Riddle, Pastor, Christ Reformed Baptist Church, Charlottesville, Virginia 22901

  1. Thanks for the excellent post. I could quote Jonathan Edwards in his work “Thoughts on the Present Revival” where he warns about some who think that it is God’s manner in our day to lead persons by impulses on the imagination, or guidance with or without texts of Scripture (Adoption of Wrong Principles); but if you read John Owen, you discover that Spiritual Gifts are so far from determining spirituality, they are experienced by the reprobate as well. But what is interesting, and what those who make much of Charismatic gifts appear ignorant is the matter in which the Spirit applies the gifts. Owen wrote,
    “…spiritual gifts are placed and seated in the mind or understanding only; whether they are ordinary or extraordinary, they have no other hold or residence in the soul. And they
    are in the mind as it is notional and theoretical, rather than as it is practical. They are intellectual abilities, and no more. I speak of them which have any residence in us; for some gifts, as miracles and tongues, consisted only in a transient operation of an extraordinary power. Of all others, illumination is the foundation, and spiritual light their matter. So the apostle declares in his order of expression, Hebrews 6:4. The will,
    and the affections, and the conscience are unconcerned in them, Wherefore, they change not the heart with power, although they may reform the life by the efficacy of light. And although God doth not ordinarily bestow them on flagitious persons, nor continue them with such as after the reception of them become flagitious, yet they may be in those who are unrenewed, and have nothing in them to preserve men absolutely from the worst of sins. But saving grace possesseth the whole soul; men are thereby sanctified throughout, in the whole “spirit and soul and body,”1
    Thessalonians 5:23, as hath been at large declared. Not only is the mind savingly enlightened, but there is a principle of spiritual life infused into the whole soul, enabling it in all its powers and faculties to act obedientially unto God, whose nature hath been fully explained elsewhere.
    Hence, — (2.) They differ in their operations: for grace changeth and transformeth the whole soul into its own nature, Isaiah 11:6-8; Romans 6:17, 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18. It is a new, a divine nature unto the soul, and is in it a habit disposing, inclining, and enabling of it unto obedience. It acts itself in faith, love, and holiness in all things. But gifts of themselves have not this power nor these operations. They may and do, in those who are possessed of them in and under their exercise, make great impression on their own affections, but they change not the heart, they renew not the mind, they transform not the soul into the image of God. Hence, where grace is predominant, every notion of light and truth which is communicated unto the mind is immediately turned into practice, by having the whole soul cast into the mould of it; where only gifts bear away, the use of it in duties unto edification is best, whereunto it is designed. (Collected works volume 4)

  2. That was an excellent article! Thank you for such a biblical and well thought out approach.

  3. Jeff,

    Thanks for this great and timely article.

  4. Thanks for the article Pastor Riddle. If, as confessionally reformed Christian bodies hold, the charismatic gifts were necessarily tied to the authentication of those who received and delivered direct revelation from God, then positing that these gifts continue today strikes at the heart of the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

    It is fundamentally a question of epistemology and a matter of the utmost importance to the Church.

  5. The Bible is the ONLY way God speaks to us. Don’t leave any open doors.

  6. I was driving this AM and listening to an obviously “charismatic” preacher and I was reminded again what it is all about. He criticized those who are “overly” doctrinal had “teaching” but “no power” to back up what they believed. He said that lost people would believe when they see “miracles” just like they did in the days of the Apostles.

    Hmmm — evidently he has never read the gospels and considered the relative LACK of lasting fruit from the miracle-filled ministry of Jesus. In fact, the “believing” in the aftermath of raising Lazarus from the dead, was the belief that Jesus AND Lazarus needed to be put to death!

    Pastor Riddle nailed it in his quotations concerning ordinary events being labeled as extraordinary. In charismatic circles, this happens continuously.

  7. “believers are not actively encouraged to practice or seek miraculous experiences or gifts.”?. 1 Cor. 14:1 “Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” For a balanced discussion with a different perspective see “Showing the Spirit” by D.A. Carson.

  8. “The ‘miracles’ that are claimed today are hardly comparable to the authenticating signs that accompanied the apostles.”

    I recommend a serious of sermons by Hal Brunson (I do not know this man, and thus do not endorse all that he may teach). With the exception of a few “harsher” statements, I believe he is right on.

    Mike Waters
    Heritage Reformed Baptist Church

  9. Steve – Well said.

  10. Fromm the ARBCA policy statement:

    “It is reported that Hanserd Knollys once healed Benjamin Keach and predicted that he would live longer than Knollys, which he did. Spurgeon reported in his autobiography (vol. 2, p. 59-61) of two incidents wherein he preached that someone was present in disguise, only to be informed by a woman on each occasion that they were present in disguise so that no one would know their presence. On another occasion, he pointed a finger at a portion of the assembly where a young man sat and said: “Young man, those gloves you are wearing have not been paid for: you have stolen them from your employer.” Following the service, a young man visited him, laid the gloves on his desk, and confessed to the crime. Other reports of extraordinary predictions in church history have been reported by George Gillespie, even by some of the reformers (Works, vol. 2, chap. 5, sec. 7, p. 30).

    As difficult as it is to explain such events, these occurrences still were not performed by “prophets” as described in the New Testament, nor did these experiences fit the regular practice of prophecy in congregational worship (1 Cor. 14), which some are claiming today. Neither did these men foster the use of such gifts nor attempt to restore them to the church as is done today in “restorationism.” Such extraordinary occurrences, or opinions, or errors of good men must not be used to modify the plain words of the LBC. For one to believe that there may have been extraordinary experiences by good men in the past which seem to mimic, at times, revelatory gifts in the New Testament, does not necessarily mean that one believes that the revelatory gifts still exist as formerly practiced.”

    Also, see this fine book:

    There seems to be variety even among cessationists as to the issue of “spectacular providences” and other phenomena.

  11. This is admittedly a difficult area. One assumption that seems to be often made is that all gifts must continue to the same degree as they did in the first century in order for them to be valid. There is no doubt that the more spectacular manifestations of the gifts tend to parallel the more extraordinary seasons in redemptive history (The time of Moses, Elijah, Jesus and the Apostles). But to observe that the gifts rarely manifest themselves to this degree presently is by no means a proof that they have ceased.

    I also find it interesting that when Paul had a golden opportunity to discourage the future “continuation” of these gifts in 1st Corinthians (circa 55 A.D., roughly 10 years before he died), he didn’t. To a church who was abusing the use of of these things at the expense of love (much like some today), who wrongly judged themselves “spiritual” based on their extraordinary giftedness, his answer to their error was not “disuse” but rather “proper use”; not “discouragement” but rather “encouragement” so long as they where used in the “pursuit of love” (1 Cor. 14:1).

  12. It is utterly inconsistent for one to hold fast to the revelatory gifts and claim the label of “reformed”. Calvinistic, yes, but reformed, no! To embrace the possibility for the extraordinary gifts, revelatory by nature, to be normative for the church today, it is necessary to check “Sola Scriptura” at the door. The reformers were emphatic about sola scriptura because of the popish romans use of “T”radition for doctrine and authority. The charismatics are essentially no different when they claim for the gifts to be active. The RCs have Scripture plus tradition, the charismatics have Scripture plus the gifts. This is NOT consistent with the doctrine of scripture alone. If you must have revelatory gifts, then don’t pretend to be theologically “reformed”. Labels are what they are, and they are useful, but for lack of confusion, may we refrain from changing the definitions of them to suit smorgasbord theologies.

  13. We should be careful not to exalt the Reformed tradition (for that is what it is) to the level of Scripture. Would we not agree that it too must continually be evaluated in the light of God’s Word with a Berean spirit (Acts 17:11) and where it fails, we must be willing to part with the Reformers.

  14. Most would not claim that current “prophecies” are Scripture-quality revelation.

    Even the Scottish Covenanters, fully endorsing WCF 1:1 spoke of prophecies.

    To say that one must check Sola Scrpture at the door is to misunderstand how the Scottish Covenanters and many today think of “special providences” that are hard to explain.

    Read the Milne book that I posted a link to.

  15. From Sovereign Grace’s Statement of Faith:
    “The Scriptures are the authoritative and normative rule and guide of all Christian life, practice, and doctrine. They are totally sufficient and must not be added to, superseded, or changed by later tradition, extra-biblical revelation, or worldly wisdom. Every doctrinal formulation, whether of creed, confession, or theology must be put to the test of the full counsel of God in Holy Scripture.”

  16. If Presbyterian brothers read the first point concerning whether or not cessationists can call themselves reformed then wouldn’t they be laughing?

    Presbyterians sometimes argue that Baptists can’t call themselves reformed because we do not hold to traditional covenant theology. Now we are turning around and saying that Piper and Chandler can’t call themselves reformed because they disagree on gifts of the spirit. Isn’t that like the pot calling the kettle black?

    We are assuming the label despite our disagreeing with a portion of what originally defined the term. Now we are saying that “Reformed charismatics” can’t use the label because they disagree on a much more minor aspect.

    We feel it is fine to substitute the 1689 for the Westminster and maintain the “reformed” label, but we are not willing to allow Piper and Chandler to add any asterisks to their copies of the confessions with regard to special gifts?

  17. Jim,

    I think Trevor makes a good point above (by the way, Trevor thanks for the ARBCA statement, it was excellent]. The position that prophets continue in the church but with lesser ability and authority seems very weak. I know this is the view of Grudem for example. See O. P. Robertson’s The Final Word, where he addresses Grudem’s arguments directly.

    Did the prophet speak for God or not? If so then he must speak with authority and infallibility.

    As I see it, we can not have it both ways. If there are prophets they speak from God and must be given equal authority to Scripture.

    I think this is what AJ meant above.

    Mike W

  18. Here is another interesting link to consider by folks who affirm WCF 1:1 about the sufficiency of Scripture and yet see marvelous providences worked out in the lives of God’s saints:

    While affirming that the office of prophet has ceased, we read this in the Second Book of Discipline, ratified by the Church of Scotland in 1578 about extraordinary offices in the Church:

    “In the New Testament and time of the evangel, he [Christ] has used the ministry of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and doctors in the administration of the word; the eldership for good order and administration of discipline; the deaconship to have the care of the ecclesiastical goods.

    Some of these ecclesiastical functions are ordinary, and some extraordinary or temporary. There are three extraordinary functions: the office of the apostle, of the evangelist, and of the prophet, which are not perpetual, and now have ceased in the kirk of God, except when he pleased extraordinarily for a time to stir some of them up again. There are four ordinary functions or offices in the kirk of God: the office of the pastor, minister or bishop; the doctor; the presbyter or elder; and the deacon.

    These offices are ordinary, and ought to continue perpetually in the kirk, as necessary for the government and policy of the same, and no more offices ought to be received or suffered in the true kirk of God established according to his word (The First and Second Books of Discipline, Dallas: Presbyterian Publications, 1993; Second Book of Discipline, Chapter 2,Of the Parts of the Policy of the Kirk, and Persons or Office-Bearers to Whom the Administration Thereof is Committed, pp. 127-28).”

    Note the above phrase about prophets being ceased, “…except when he pleased extraordinarily for a time to stir some of them up again..”

    Thus, these Scottish theologians did not see a total incompatibility with prophecy (which to them would not have been considered Scripture-quality revelation) and the rare and extraordinary raising up of an occasional prophet.

  19. If Presbyterian brothers read the first point concerning whether or not non-cessationists can call themselves reformed then wouldn’t they be laughing?

    Presbyterians sometimes argue that Baptists can’t call themselves reformed because we do not hold to traditional covenant theology. Now we are turning around and saying that Piper and Chandler can’t call themselves reformed because they disagree on gifts of the spirit. Isn’t that like the pot calling the kettle black?

    We are assuming the label despite our disagreeing with a portion of what originally defined the term. Now we are saying that “Reformed charismatics” can’t use the label because they disagree on a much more minor aspect.

    We feel it is fine to substitute the 1689 for the Westminster and maintain the “reformed” label, but we are not willing to allow Piper and Chandler to add any asterisks to their copies of the confessions with regard to special gifts?

  20. Brother Trevor,

    I would beg of you to allow me a further explanation of my comment about “checking Sola Scriptura at the door”. From my original comment, the use of the word “normative” is critical. If you consider the “prophecies” witnessed by the Scotish Covenanters and other similar reports, as mentioned in the ARBCA position paper, these instances must not be considered normative for the church. They are isolated incidences that are difficult to explain and therefore require much caution, certainly not to be accepted as “normative”, nor, by any means, expected in the day to day operation of the Holy Spirit in these post-apostolic last days. Surely, one can accept or question the veracity of events such as these, recognize them as non-normative incidences, and still hold to a strict cessationist position. However, not to hold to a cessationist position (accept these events as the norm in the operation of the church today) is to hold a view that is in opposition to the very heart of the reformed doctrine of sola scriptura. This is at the core of the ARBCA paper you quoted. ARBCA produced the paper to give clear guidelines, gleaned from the 1689 LBC, regarding the examination of all pastors and churches received into ARBCA. They must agree to, and maintain, a strict cessationist position.

    Furthermore, in fairness to ARBCA regarding the positional paper on the gifts, acceptance of these extraordinary and subjective events are reason to exercise patience and caution. I felt it necessary to post the rest of that particular section from which you quoted, to rightly disclose the strict cessationist position of ARBCA:

    “Those who accept these extraordinary experiences of good men require patience by ARBCA when examining their view to see if they believe in continued gifts of the above mentioned “open view,” which may not be the case. However, there must be a rejection of continued revelatory gifts to conform to the LBC for membership and service in ARBCA.”

    The full paper can be found here:

    Click to access Revelatory_Gifts.PDF

  21. Thanks Mike. Your points are well taken, brother and I admit that the idea of “fallible prophesy” is particularly difficult. While I don’t find all of Grudem’s arguments compelling on the subject, still there does appear to be something essentially different in what is referred to as “prophesy” in the O.T. compared to the new. 1 Cor. 14:3 “But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.” No warning? No woe and judgment? It’s primary use is stated to be for instruction and encouragement (14:31). Interesting.

    It’s also curious how Paul appears to disobey a clear word from the Holy Spirit in Acts 21:4, “And finding disciples, we stayed there seven days. They told Paul through the Spirit not to go up to Jerusalem.” Hard to imagine Paul responding to Isaiah this way.

    Another curious comparison is 1 Cor. 14:5 “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy.” and James 3:1 “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” Paul seems to give a blanket encouragement for all to “prophesy” but James warns against too many becoming teachers. Strange. And was Paul encouraging the entire congregation at Corinth to seek to bring Scripture-level revelation? Perhaps. But then there is 1 Thes. 5:18-21 ‘Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.” “Hold fast what is good”? Isn’t it ALL GOOD if it’s real prophesy from God?

    It’s thorny for sure but whatever the case (and I don’t claim to have it all figured out), there does appear to be some interesting differences in what the NT is referring to as prophesy.

  22. Of 5 areas of concerns, the second one is given in charismatic not-Calvinist circles, but probably not in more moderate continuationism Calvinistic-circles. The fourth concerns, I think, is maybe a more pragmatic matter. The one that I consider to be more important is the third one.

    As for the fifth one I wonder: not was it the Scripture sufficient for the believers of the epoch of Christ and the apostles? The indication of the passage of the Rich and Lazarus was spoken by the same Christ, and nevertheless the manifestation of the extraordinary gifts happened time after this parable.

  23. When Paul wrote his letters to the churches at Corinth and Thessalonica and James wrote his epistle, the church did not have the canonized New Testament. The Holy Spirit was inspiring and penning the sufficient scriptures in the midst of the transitional period of the church recorded in the book of the Acts. This was an extraordinary period in church history. When was the last time you asked a baptized disciple of Christ, “Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?” (Acts 19:2). Christ was building His house, He being the chief cornerstone, the apostles being the foundation stones, and we being the living stones fitly joined together (Eph 2:19-21), through His teaching and subsequently the doctrines of the apostles whom He bore witness with signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit (Heb 2:4). I think it is a viable possibility that we shouldn’t expect some of these extraordinary things written of, to occur today like they did in the scriptural accounts. It is possible that the gift of prophecy (the authoritative proclamation of Holy Spirit given revelation) of Paul’s day has transitioned into the gift of preaching (the authoritative proclaiming of the Holy Spirit inspired scriptures) we witness today? I think it’s at least a valid consideration.

  24. Hello,

    Continuing our discussion……

    A quote by Samual Rutherford, one of the framers of the WCF:

    “There is a revelation of some particular men, who have foretold things to come, even since the ceasing of the Canon of the Word, as John Husse [John Hus], Wickeliefe [Wycliffe], Luther, have foretold things to come and they certainly fell out, and in our nation of Scotland, M. George Wishart foretold that Cardinal Beaton should not come out alive at the Gates of the Castle of St. Andrews, but that he should die a shameful death, and he was hanged over the window that he did look out at, when he saw the man of God burnt, Knox prophesied of the hanging of the Lord of Grange, M. Ioh. Davidson uttered prophecies, known to many of the kingdome, diverse Holy and mortified preachers in England have done the like… [Samuel Rutherford. A Survey Of The Spiritual Antichrist. Opening the Secrets Of Familisme and Antinomianisme in the Antichrist Doctrine of John Saltmarsh… (London: no pub., 1648), 42.”

    Also, on pages 168-170 in Douglas A. Oss’ chapter in the book, “Are Miraculous Gifts For Today: 4 Views” we read this about Samuel Rutherford, the framer of the WCF who believed in WCF 1:1 and prophets both:

    “[Samuel Rutherford] argued for a distinction betweeen the objective external revelation inscripturated in the canon and the internal subjective revelation, which we would call “illumination.” In addition, Rutherford also recognized two other subjective types of revelation: false prophecies-which are not prophecies at all-and predictive prophecy. He said he knew of men “who have foretold things to come even since the ceasing of the Canon of the word,” mentioning Hus, Wycliff, and Luther as examples.

    Rutherford offered guidelines for differentiating between true and false prophecy: First, these postcanonical prophets “did tye no man to beleeve their prophecies as scriptures. Yea they never denounced Iudgement against those that beleeve not their predictions”; second, “the events reveled to Godly and sound witnesses of Christ are not contrary to the word”‘ and third, “they were men sound in the faith opposite to Popery, Prelacy, Socinianism, Papism, Lawlesse Enthusiasme, Antinomianisme, Arminianisme, and what else is contrary to sound doctrine. (from Rutherford’s “A Survey of the Spirituall Antichrist”)

    In the light of Rutherford’s belief about revelation, the line “new revelations of the Spirit” [in WCF 1.6] may be understood to refer to non-canonical but actual utterances that are subordinate to and judged by Scripture, and which may not be added to the canon. Canon, not prophecy, is the issue.

    The mention of “private spirits” [in WCF 1.10] does not reject them out of hand, it merely subjects them to the authority of Scripture along with “all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men.” Thus, when the WCF speaks of “those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people now being ceased,” it should not necessarily be interpreted to indicate that God no longer reveals himself in any extraordinary way but to indicate that the canon is closed and that it alone is the rule of faith and practice. At least this is how Rutherford understood it. When the Confession refers to “the direct communication which once was” and “the indirect communication which now is,” is this a distinction between “revelation” and “illumination” or between canon and all other revelation? The former was committed “wholly unto writing” (Confession 1.1), but such prophecies as those given in Corinth were not all deposited in the canon-though of the Spirit, they were not of the deposit of faith. Rutherford’s understanding as a framer certainly leaves open alternative interpretations of the Confession than the prevailing cessationist interpretation today. ”

    Alexander Peden and George Gillespie and several others of the Covenanters also spoke of prophets, prophecies, providential guiding dreams, and special remarkable providences, even while affirming WCF 1:1 and defending Sola Scriptura.

    Also, approximately 15-20% of new believers from Muslim backgrounds in several regions that I know of report having dreams of Jesus prior to seeking more information about the Gospel or being confronted by a Gospel Messenger. These dreams have functioned as special remarkable providences, “Cornelius-type events”, whereby the person is made open and willing to hear the Gospel.

    Also, most of us acknowledge that, in addition to the general principles of Scripture, there is a direct illumination and enlightenment that the Spirit gives (“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” – Romans 8:16).

    In addition to this, some Christians are called with special callings and strong impressions that are not contrary to the Word of God and become the basis for great works in missions and evangelism (i.e., a strong call to a particular people, etc). I do not want to condemn people if they mention a “strong impression from the Lord,” even while recognizing that such strong impressions must not be contrary to the Word even if it appears to go beyond it.

    Example: George Mueller had a strong particular impression (that went beyond Scriptural demands) about his own personal financial dealings and how he would deal with needs, and he is praised for this among baptists instead of faulted. Yet, this decision for which he was praised was due to a personal leading and not due merely to the general principle or practices found in Scripture.

    Also, the Spirit provides comfort during trials. The Spirit can give special times of extreme comfort and calmness during heavy trials. Though, again, highly subjective, I do not doubt that this special comfort is Spirit-sent and not manufactured from my own mental processes alone. It is exogenous and divine. Jesus himself promised that his disciples did not need to worry about what they would say when dragged before magistrates, for the Holy Spirit would put the words into their mouths (Matthew 10:19). Though Jesus was speaking directly to those whom he sent out in Matthew 10, I believe in the continuing applicability of this passage today beyond the limited immediate audience of Matthew 10, for the Holy Spirit has now descended and inhabits all believers. And, during times of trial, the Spirit is exceptionally close to believers, many believers reporting “special leadings” by God during times of crisis and trial.

    “It seemed good”: Time and time again, we hear the verdict of the New Testament that various ministry decisions “seemed good.” Scriptural principles and examples guide believers, but often we encounter situations in which there is no direct Scripture to apply. The Holy Spirit gives divine guidance. We cannot, in simple reductionist mechanical fashion, decide on a course of action always by simple proof-texting or a dry academic survey of a concordance. The Spirit leads the Church in such a way that some things seem good.

    Finally, The filling of the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the Bible sometimes as a particular anointing for special or exceptional service, and other times as a normal anointing for daily holy living. In times of extreme trial or at times of trying to fulfill exceptionally difficult tasks, I believe it right to pray for special filling and empowerment by the Spirit, for it indicates that we are led by the Spirit (and not merely the cognitive understanding of Scripture alone), indicates Christ’s power and rule oever the believer’s life, and it results in fruitfulness(Jn 7:37-39; 14–16; Ac 1:8; Ro 5:1-5; 8:1-14; 1Co 3:16; 6:11, 19-20; Eph 1:15-23; 3:14-21). Thus, we do not merely study the Scripture more in these cases, but we beg God for power and leading.

    And all of these phenomena have appeared among Christians avowing WCF 1:1 and who affirm Sola Scriptura.

    My reasons for stating these things and interacting with this article:

    PRELIM NOTE: This article is not directed towards John Wimber and the Toronto Blessing folks. If it were, I would have no quarrel with it.

    This article, instead, appears to be an effort to ferret out those from among us who may have “charismatic leanings.” This is yet another reaction to the popularity of the “New Calvinism” teachers, who (some of them) allow for broader allowances regarding the work of the Spirit. The aim of the article, in part, is to prove that “those people are not truly “reformed baptist,” and to guard “our people” from them, i.e., it is an effort at fence-building and creating boundaries/distinctions between “us” and “them.”

    In response,

    (1) We need to recognize even the diversity of opinions among those who hold to the WCF and 1689. Many “Reformed” men of the past held to many of the things that Piper advocates today. They should not, therefore, be seen as pretenders to the reformed tradition (unless of course we consider all baptists as pretenders to being “reformed”).

    (2) We need to be careful in saying things that would needlessly disfellowship us from true reformed believers who adhere to Sola Scripture while trying to acknowledge the present movements of the Spirit.

    Would some of you have tried to disfellowship Rutherford, Peden, Gillespie and the Scottish Covenanters for their beliefs?

    (3) We need to recognize that Piper and Grudem and those that advocate continued workings of the Spirit in ways that make some of us uncomfortable…that these men still fully advocate Sola Scipture and we should seek to not misrepresent their firm reliance on Scripture. For them prophecy is not “Scripture-quality revelation,” nor does it undermine Sola Scripture.

    To continue the baseless charge that somehow they do not truly honor Scripture is to slander these men. They, too, see Scripture as the rule of faith in their lives and the only normative guide for their practice.

    (4) When dealing with former Muslims or folks who report remarkable providences as part of their conversion stories (such as these dreams of Jesus for believers from oppressive Muslim backgrounds) we need to recognize that our first goal is not to prove to them that their dream was simply due to too much rice before bedtime, but that God is sovereign over all.

    Also, a diversity of musical styles is perfectly permissible in church and those groups that do not use the piano and the Blue Trinity Hymnal also have composed some solid hymns and praise songs, too, to the glory of God and for the edification of the saints. The author of the article bears the burden of proof in proving that all of these songs are “Third Wave” or “Charismatic.”

    One man’s “decently and in order” is another man’s “rigid and overly formal” and much of the debate over music is merely a contest of competing preferences.

    Finally, it is not inappropriate to commend and invite men like Piper and Grudem into pulpit fellowship with us and to recommend their resources to our young people.

    Final note:

    If our young people in Reformed Baptist churches are preferring the “young, restless and reformed” over traditional Reformed Baptist Churches (and they seem to be) we should not automatically assume that this is due to doctrinal downgrade, but that perhaps they are getting something there that they are not getting from us.

    Why are multitudes flocking to them, even while many of our churches shrink?

    A rising tide of respect for Calvinism ought to float all boats, right?

    However, young people, by and large, prefer “their type” of church over “our type” of church. Why is that? Is it due to “doctrinal downgrade” on their part, or a legitimate hunger for something not being seen in our churches? What can we learn?

  25. Trevor –
    Extremely well said and “Amen!” Thank you for your helpful comment. Your “reasons” at the end are also right on. Indeed, “What can we learn?”

  26. Here is an addition:

    Below is an invective against “charismatic calvinists” by Hal Brunson that paints a very good picture of why I think many younger folks would rather go to “them” rather than stay with “us” and illustrates why, even while calvinism is becoming “cool” we remain unattractive to many younger folks.

    (NOTE: Whether we are theologically “more right” than they are gets lost in the heat and venom of our presenation sometimes and I believe this drives people away from our cause):

    Hal Brunson writes:

    “If ever there were a jewel of gold in a pig’s snout, charismatic Calvinism is it. What should be a humorous and ridiculous oxymoron, “charismatic Calvinist,” is now a nauseating and repugnant reality. Charismatic Calvinists open the door for false teaching in the Calvinist church; they blemish the reputation of orthodox Calvinists; they expect legitimacy, thinking that their claim to be Calvinists insulates them from the charge of heterodoxy; they denigrate the primary work of the Spirit in regeneration and sanctification, ultimately denying the scripture that affirms “of His fulness have we all received”; they inherently and unavoidably align themselves with the most despicable charletains of contemporary fundamentalism; they create a false expectation of sensational spiritual experience for young and naive believers; they are apparently unsatisfied and unsatiated with the primary work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration and sanctification; they have pirated and defamed the phrase “sovereign grace”; and they are an embarrassment and an annoyance.”

    By and large I never hear this same sort of exchange coming from “them” towards “us.”

    In like manner is Peter Master’s over-the-top screed found here:

    Jesus only spoke in this manner of harshness towards false teachers. Unless one is willing to write off the “charismatic calvinists” as false teachers and apostates, I think our dialogue with them ought to show the love with befits our interactions with other Christian brethren.

    And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil… (2 Tim 2:24)

    …not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome… (I Tim 3:3)

    I, for one, thank God for Piper, Mahaney and Grudem.

  27. Trevor thank you so much for your last two posts. I couldn’t agree with you more, especially concerning the “heat and venom” of Hal Brunson’s response and some of the responses represented here. When I first read Hal Brunsons opening to his messages on sermon audio I thought it was a joke. Then he went on to actually say that and it just made me sad. Where is the love that Paul said in I Corinthains 13 should be central to our response?

  28. Trevor,

    I can be thankful for much of what you said. But dear brother, simply pause and look at what you wrote.

    You cannot honestly imply a connection between the charismatic Calvinism of our day and that of these few select puritans you quote [out of thousands].

    Have we really come this far? Do I really need to prove that the authors of our confession were not charismatic?

    I can hardly believe such statements as the following,

    “Why are multitudes flocking to them, even while many of our churches shrink?”

    My friend, let me suggest there is something more important than numbers! Or does appeasing the youth constitute the one thing needful?

    Furthermore, our church [yes it is small], is comprised of about 20 families, most of which are all young. Can you image? And yes, we use a piano and the blue Trinity.

    Perhaps if I were “open but cautious” concerning the gifts of prophecy and tongue speaking we would get more. Perhaps if I preached in sandals and blue jeans we would get more. Perhaps if I lowered the standard for office bearers we would get more. Perhaps if I added drums to the public worship we would get more. Perhaps if I dropped the PM Service or substituted small groups we would get more. Perhaps if I added a super bowl Sunday we would get more. Perhaps if I refused to mention the Ten Commandments we would get more? Perhaps if I….

    But these will never happen…regardless the outcome. Why? Because there are things more important!


  29. Amen, Mike. Amen…

  30. Mike W – Thank you.

  31. I keep hearing that RB churches are losing their young people. Well, we are not. Our young people are solid deep thinking Christians. They love the hymns (and we sing a cappella out of the blue TH!) and they love the white hairs among us.

    I agree with my dear brother Mike, if “getting big” means being small in those things that matter most, then we will stay small

  32. Mike Waters,

    I never said that the authors of the confessions were charismatic. I said that some of them spoke of prophets or prophecies, even while affirming WCF 1:1 and sola scripture. They did not see these things as necessarily mutually incompatible. There was some variation among these men, even in the midst of tight confessional boundaries. Therefore, we should not treat these “charismatic calvinists” in the harsh manner of Brunson’s quote since even one of the framers of the WCF affirmed prophecy and prophets.

    Mike, I said nothing about preaching in sandals, etc. I, too, believe that we must keep our standards high (as long as these are biblical standards and not mere RB tradition).

    I do assert strongly that our tone and manner of attack is often all wrong.

    I also assert that, given the rise in respect for general calvinistic enthusiasm, that we should expect to benefit more from the revival of these doctrines. But that is not happening by and large. I think unnecessary polemic is one of the factors that hinder us.

  33. Trevor – It is not unnecessary polemic. It is extremly necessary polemic, because either reformed theology will destroy charismatic theology, or charismatic theology will destroy reformed theology. They cannot coexist together. The fact that a few of our forefathers may have attempted to combine them does not justify the combination of them. This is not some minor error. It is s serious attack upon the sufficiency and the finality of the scriptures. We have been down this road before in the 1800’s. Read Arnold Dallimore’s book on The Life of Edward Irving. Charismatism destroyed reformed theology.

  34. As an ex-charismatic, I’d like to make a couple of points:
    1) The Charismatic movement, as well as the so-called Third Wave, are outgrowths of the Pentecostal movement. The Pentecostals trace their origins to the Azusa Street revival of 1906. There has always been an emphasis among Pentecostals on the great “outpouring of the Holy Spirit” that supposedly occurred there, and these churches (directly or indirectly, to a greater or lesser degree) all trace their genesis to this event. In recent years it has become more common to hear some try to find support for charismatic practice in the Puritans, the Reformers and others, but it seems to me that this is an attempt to retro-fit church history with a Pentecostal theology that didn’t exist then. Are today’s Reformed Charismatics really wanting to claim a special place in redemptive history for Azusa Street? It seems that they would have to, or else they owe us an explanation.
    2) As a charismatic, I heard literally hundreds of times over a period of many years about how “God is getting ready to do a great thing in the Earth!” Something BIG was always just around the corner, but it was something that was apparently bigger than the Cross. The Charismatic movement has always been appallingly lacking in preaching the great doctrines of the atonement, justification, adoption, election, sanctification, and the rest of Reformed theology. We do not need to hear these preached just for the sake of hearing doctrine, but because they are necessary for LIFE.
    I would rather be at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, than to chase the carrot on the end of the stick.

  35. Tony, thank you for this excellent perspective from one who has “been there”. I was part of the fundamentalist movement when the charismatic challenge happened with a vengence in the early 70’s. I don’t think the fundamentalists ever really won their battle, and myriads of them had their churches torn apart by charismatics. It appears to me that as RB’s we are about 40 years behind — and I hope we face the charismatic challenge better than the fundamentalists did 40 years ago. It has the potential to tear churches apart that hold to the 1689 Confession and the sufficency of the Word. Those who leave these churches will morph into “something else” — or should I say “something less”.

  36. Trevor

    The elephant in the corner of the room regarding some (and only some) of what you write regarding our acceptance or not of Peden and so forth is this – everyone of them was firmly, constitutionally committed to the Westminster Confession of Faith, as you yourself note frequently. The modern “reformed charismatics”, as far as I can tell are more or less uniformly NOT committed to any historic confession. This is not without some significance surely? How can I be sure that Mahaney, Piper etc. are in the “reformed tradition” as I am continually told if they reject connection to that tradition? And why do they reject that connection by confession if they are in the reformed tradition? I should add I have read much and appreciated much of these two men have written, so this is not a whole-sale rejection of them.

    Furthermore while you are correct to assert that the Covenanters accepted the reality of what they referred to as prophecy, whereas some modern confessional Calvinists do not, the reality is that if one holds to either WCF or BCF you are confessionally committed to what was sometimes manifested among the Covenanters;

    “3. God in his ordinary Providence maketh use of means; yet is free to work, without, above, and against them at his pleasure.”

    That is exactly what He was doing I believe in such days as the “Killing Times” in Ayrshire (and I believe Peden etc. would view it that way too). Also we must remember, and this is important, that Peden’s (and his compatriots’) prophecies were remarkable in his own day. All this points to the fact that their whole framework of understanding “prophecy” “prediction” etc. was markedly different from that in vogue among the current moderate charismatics. These were days of peculiar wickedness in Scotland, when the Church was under intense persecution and perhaps at such times God works outside normal means for the sake of the perseverance of his people. But even there and then these phenomena were rare and outstanding – for something to be extraordinary it must not be a weekly everyday occurrence.

    With regard to Muslims etc. a useful resource is a little book by a late modern Covenanter Prof. Frederick Leahy ‘Satan Cast Out” where he deals a little with demon possession at the “cutting face” for Gospel endeavours which is somewhat relevant and helpful in understanding these phenomena.

    In conclusion I think, though do not necessarily accuse any correspondents here of it, that there is a great danger of anachronism etc. in this argument. A close reading of historical reaction and interaction with Peden etc. contrasted with the practice of current moderate charismatics will show that the two things are very radically different.

  37. Paul,

    Thank you for your insightul comments.

    Yes, it appears that God does and can work extraordinarily, as in the days of the Covenanters, such that the Covenanters could claim prophets and prophecies and still fully hold to WCF 1:1 and the confession.

    My purpose for bringing this out is two-fold:

    (1) To show that there was acceptable variation on these issues even among the framers of the Confessions.

    (2) To protest the labeling of Piper and Grudem as necessarily fully in the Charismatic camp, for to label all believers who possess any openness at all to extraordinary manifestations of the Spirit would necessitate labeling the Covenanters, too, in the same manner. And I don’t think anyone here is willing to label Peden or Rutherford as “Charismatics” (yet we seem to be doing just that with Piper and Grudem here).

    We go too far in labeling these men as “charismatic calvinists” for they differ much with present Charismatic practices. I do not see Piper as going much further than ML Jones; and I’ve never heard anyone label Dr. ML Jones as a charismatic, even though we may differ with him in his interpretation of Ephesians. Dr. ML Jones had his own criticisms of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement, here:

    Wait…let’s add a third…

    (3) I also wanted to combat the normal mode of argument that many RBs use against anyone who has an more open view regarding spiritual gifts. Usually, the sufficiency of Scripture and sola sciptura are presented, and anyone who believes that prophecy is still possible is accused of not believing in sola scripture and the sufficincy of Scripture. This is simply not true, for Peden, Rutherford, etc, all believe in sola scriptura and still acknowledged prophecies. I would like to see this line of argumentation to cease because it misrepresents the beliefs of Grudem and Piper and others who still are open to ongoing occasional prophecy, for these things are rare and special providences and are not “scripture-quality revelations” nor are they placed on the same level as Scripture. Throughout Christian hisotry, believers have claimed illumination, special leadings and some have claimed prophecy, even while claiming the sufficiency of Scripture.

    This labeling of people as either “charismatic” or “reformed” is entirely too simplistic. It appears that there is a continuum of open-ness to the presence and way that spiritual gifts are manifested and that we are trying to align everyone on either pole, when, in fact, there are many who are at different points along this continuum and are not not rightly called either “charismatic” or totally “cessationist.” …And some who have framed the Confession were more open to prophecy than what we presently claim the Confession to teach.

    Yes, I love the Leahy book and have bought extra copies to give to new workers here in SE Asia. It recognizes what we have seen here as well, namely that in pioneering works and in times of extreme spiritual trial, that dark powers can manifest more explicitly.

    I would like to recommend again the Milne book that I have linked above.

    Finally, I think it is a fair strategem of argument for me to present the words of the Covenanters regarding prophecy. Whether Confessional or non-Confessional, there are similarities that we need to see between the beliefs of the highly confessional covenanters, who affirmed continuing (but rare) prophecy (though not as Scripture-quality revelation) and the present crop of astute theologians like Piper and Grudem, and Dr. Jones as well, who are more open than many here would prefer in regards to the working of the Spirit. Benefitting from these fine men is not evidence of a “RB down-grade” at all, and we can count them as brothers and profit much from their works.

    Please tell me your thoughts, and thanks for your fine post,


  38. Trevor,

    If you no longer want to see that the claim that modern day prophets and prophecy is a challenge to the Reformed doctrine of Scripture, then you should stop reading this Blog site. We reject as a grievous error any claim that God is still sending “fresh” messages to His people. We reject as an act of rebellion any claim that God has something more to say to His church that was not already spoken in His Son. We hold, without compromise that the Son of God, as He comes to us in the Scripture, is God’s final, complete and sufficient revelation: “What more can He say than to you He hath said, You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?”

    Wayne Grudem was a part of the Vineyard church when the “Toronto blessing” was in full swing. He never denounced it, and the leaders of the Vineyard in order to defend their false prophets and prophecy used him and his work.

    God’s Word is sufficient to both save and sanctify His elect. Any claims of new revelation are false and may very well be the activity of the enemy of our souls!

    “I did not send these prophets, But they ran. I did not speak to them, But they prophesied. But if they had stood in My council, Then they would have announced My words to My people, And would have turned them back from their evil way And from the evil of their deeds. Am I a God who is near, declares the LORD, And not a God far off?

    I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, ‘I had a dream, I had a dream!’ “How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams which they relate to one another, just as their fathers forgot My name because of Baal?

    The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream, but let him who has My word speak My word in truth. What does straw have in common with grain? declares the LORD. “Is not My word like fire?” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock?

  39. Trevor,

    I still believe you are drawing, as it were, to big an equals sign, or equivalency between the Covenanters and current charismatics, that’s where I would differ from you. These things may appear similar, in terminology especially but I believe whatever the terminology that Peden and Rutherford would reject Grudem’s construct of prophecy and certainly the current expectancy and frequency of such manifestations.


  40. Paul,

    When you say “current charismatic” who do you mean?

    Grudem and Piper?

    I am advocating that we use a more nuanced approach than trying to fit everyone into two camps, “us” and the “charismatics.” Many of the Reformed advocated prophecy and prophets and we do not call them charismatics.

    I’ve never heard anyone call Calvin a charismatic, and yet he said:

    “Those who preside over the government of the church in accordance with Christ’s institution are called by Paul as follows: first apostles, then prophets, thirdly evangelists, fourthly pastors, and finally teachers [Eph. 4:11]. Of these only the last two have an ordinary office in the church; the Lord raised up the first three at the beginning of his Kingdom, and now and again revives them as the need of the times demands.”

    (Calvin, Institutes, IV,3,4.)

    Though I am not a great fan of Richard Baxter, I am not sure anyone here would charge him with being a charismatic, and yet he states:

    “It is possible that God may make new Revelations to particular persons about their particular duties, events or matters of fact, in subordination to the Scripture, either by inspiration, vision, or apparition or voice?”

    Baxter, A Christian Directory: (London: Nevil Simmons, 1678), 185.

    Westminster divine William Bridge asks:

    “..but, you will say, may not God speak by extraordinay visions and revelations, in these days of ours?” and then answers, “Yes, without all doubt he may” God is not to be limited, he may speak in what way he pleases.”

    (Nonetheless, Bridge stresses the more sure of prophecy in Scripture as our rule and guide, Bridge, Works of the Rev. William Bridge, Volume 1, 417).

    Westminster divines Philip Nye, Thomas Godwin and Willian Carter assert that sometimes “prophecy” in the NT points to ordinary preaching, but sometimes it refers to prophets and prophetesses receiving immediate revelations in the early church. Milne’s book concludes, “Thus Carter allows for extraordinary prophetesses lawfully to exercise their gifts in the church in those days.”

    (Milnes, 205, 206, quoting Carter, The Covenant of God with Abraham Opened…, 145-46.)

    Wishart, Knox, Usher, John Selden (Erastian on the Westminser assembly), Edwards Reynolds (another Westminster divine), Bishops Sanderson, Gauden and Hooker, were all said to have uttered prophetic speech despite being clearly “reformed” and being associated closely with the Westminster Assembly.(Milne, 209).

    All of this is not including the tradition of dreams, and miraculous rescue of the Scots during the Killing Times.

    Robert Baillie, Scottish commissioner to the Assembly, urged his peers, based on I Thess. 5:20, “do not treat prophecies with contempt.”

    Archibald Johnson, another Scottish commissioner to the Assembly, deeply admired Margeret Michelson, who was thought to be a prophetess and also writes, “Heir my friend cam in and told me sundry prophecyies of the overturning of the papistical religion and party in 1666, which I told him was coincident with something I had written yesterday which I read to him” (Archibald JOhnston, The Diary of Archibald Johnston (1655-1661), MS 6247-6259. Edinburgh: National Library, 1940. MS 6259,32).

    The history of the martyrs of the early church and those found in Fox’s book of Martyrs contains many accounts of special providences, to include visions/dreams.

    George Gillespie, too, spoke of prophets and prophecies, and who would call him un-reformed or charismatic?

    In his A Treatise of Miscellany Questions, he discusses this topic and states that Peter Martyr and John Calvin also shared his own view of the present existence of prophecies and prophets. He also appeals to I Cor. 12:28 and Eph. 4:11 to explain the present existence of Scottish prophets in the church in his own day and speaks of Knox, John Welsh and others as, “holy prophets receiving extraordinary revelations from God, and foretelling diverse strange and remarkable things, which did accordingly come to pass punctually, to the great admiration of all who knew the particulars.” (Milne, 239, quoting, Gillespie, “Miscellany Questions”, The Works of George Gillespie, vol. 2, 30.)

    The list goes on and on…

    These men all agreed with WCF 1:1 and sola scriptura, and yet held to a belief in fore-telling prophecy, despite adhering to, and even framing the Westminster COnfession of Faith and speaking of the Scripture as our rule of faith and practice.

    These men were clearly reformed and no one would dare call them charismatic.

    Yet, today, Reformed Baptists (who claim to also be able to rightfully use the name Reformed despite objections by their Presbyterian brethren)see Piper and Grudem and other calvinists and deny them the moniker “reformed” and instead try to label them as “Charismatic” even when their views do not differ greatly from the views of some during the framing of the WCF itself.

    I have included a Vern Poythress article for your consideration and would love to hear feedback on it.

  41. Trevor,

    “Many of the Reformed advocated prophecy and prophets and we do not call them charismatics.”

    Not one person who referenced above would agree with Piper or Grudem that prophets are to be expected or sought as a normal part of church life.

    I think Paul W has a good point. Furthermore, along with Piper and Grudem’s system is the denial of the Ten Commandments as a rule of life, the Lord’s Day as the Christian Sabbath, and the RPW, while every man referenced above held tightly to each.

    That some of our puritan forefathers believed God could work outside His ordinary means when He wills, fits our confession.

    Thus the thinking of Piper/Grudem is not the same as these men. I fear for our churches if we continue under their influence.

    In 20 years we will differ little from them.

    Be cautious dear brother.


  42. Trevor,

    With respect I have never disputed the possibility or existence of what may be called prophecy, so hitting me a host of quotes like the above doesn’t really achieve much. I am very familiar with the Covenanters etc. and have already quoted from the confessions how this possibility fits into the reformed theology – God working freely above means.

    What I am suggesting is that there is a very great distance between the existence and practice of these men you quoted, from that which is actively pursed by charismatics even of a more moderate tact. That’s all I am saying, nothing more, nothing less.

    The picture you are painting is that George Gillespie and John Piper for example are pretty much in agreement of prophecy etc. I suggest that Gillespie and Piper would be very divided on this issue with regard to practice, the former accepts the possibility as per the WCF under the extraordinary movement of God, Piper et. al pursue as an frequent occurrence. That is a massive difference and it is down to differences in theology.

    A Cessationist is not someone who says these things can never happen, he is someone who says they are extraordinary – that IS the Reformed confessional position. The Continuist is someone who says these things happen regularly and frequently throughout church history.

    With that I bow out.


  43. Paul,

    So you agree with me that it is a baseless charge to accuse those that advocate continued prophets and prophecies of denying sola scripture and the closed canon?


    So you acknowledge that prophecy and prophets are still possible today?

    “God, in His ordinary providence, makes use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at His pleasure.”


    My main points, again, are that there was an affirmation of extraordinary phenomena even within cessationist circles and that there are nuances and shades of continuationism, i.e., we should not label or dump all these mean into the pool called “charismatic” and them call them all “not reformed”.

    The label “charismatic” cannot become a blanket statement to encompass all non-cessationists of the RB variety.

    Let’s not stick Piper in the same tent as Benny Hinn, and let’s not wrongfully put forward the slippery slope argument that if we confess to benefitting from John Piper this year, within the decade we will all be barking like dogs and uttering ecstatic ramblings. The slope is just not that slippery. This is not a sign of RB Down-grade.

    Quoting Dr. Bob Gonzales from his blog commens here:

    “Nevertheless, one of the purposes of this post was to demonstrate that we must not lump all non-cessationists together.

    …But there’s more I should say. A few of you have noted Piper’s use of subjective language. Piper is uncomfortable with Wilkinson’s prophecy because it does not “resonate with [his] spirit” and “does not have the feel of authority to [him].” Two things should be noted: first, sound epistemology recognizes that there’s no such thing as a purely objective human knowledge. That is to say, knowledge, discernment, evaluation, etc., necessarily involve the engagement of one’s subjective psychological faculties. Some may not like terms like “resonate” or “feels.” But is “think” any less subjective? According to Paul, man’s been created as the imago Dei with a sense of the Deity and conscience that “resonates” with God’s self-authenticating general and special revelation. Moreover, lest we’re too quick to fault Piper for failing to use stronger and more objective language, we need to acknowledge the the NT writers themselves sometimes used terminology like “it seemed to us.” Indeed, they even applied this to the Holy Spirit!

    “For it has seemed [Greek dokeo] good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements [emphasis added]” (Acts 15:28, ESV).

    Second, and this complements the first point, the title of Piper’s response to Wilkerson suggests that he’s trying to follow the biblical protocol “testing the spirits” against Scripture to see whether they’re of God (1 Thess. 5:21; 1 John 4:1-6). The fact that Piper quotes Scripture in his assessment of Wilkerson’s prophecy leads me to believe that he’s using canonical Scripture as the basis for his assessment, not a prophetic hunch or a mere personal opinion. Here I’m inclined to place the best construction on Piper’s words as Jonathan has done.

    Thanks for your input, men. If you follow the rest of my posts on cessationism, I think you’ll find that I’m not justifying Piper’s own view of prophecy. Just want to be fair to the man and encourage Christians to resist the temptation of lumping men like him together with less principled and biblical oriented non-cessationists.”

    I am in agreement with Dr. Gonzales’ assessment here.

    There has always been variety even among the cessationists, the framers of the Assembly themselves aknowledging many extraordinary movings of the Spirit.

    And further, among non-cessationists, a simplistic labeling is inappropriate and we must follow a more nuanced approach, than simply labeling someone as “Reformed” or a “Charismatic Calvinist”.

    P.s. can you cite your sources proving that Piper states that the gifts of the Spirit are “normal occurrences.” If they were, in fact, already so normal, why would Piper speak often of how he prays that the Spirit would grant these gifts in abundance. He recognizes that, while he desires their more frequent occurrence, that these gifts are still occasional and infrequent, just as the quotes that I provided above acknowledged the same in the opinions of the Scottish Covenanters and the framers of the Confession.

  44. David,

    I am fully in agreement with the Confessions and their framers on this issue.

    “I. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased.

    X. The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.”

  45. “A Cessationist is not someone who says these things can never happen, he is someone who says they are extraordinary – that IS the Reformed confessional position. The Continuist is someone who says these things happen regularly and frequently throughout church history.”

    I think that a best definition is that cessation is a person that believes that extraordinary spiritual gifts had ceased with the close of the canon and the continuist believe that all spiritual gifts continue. There are differences in the cessationism camp about believe of extraordinary events and there are differences in the continuism camp about frequency of the use of these spiritual gifts.

    I think, like Dr.Gonzalez, we can not put everybody in the same level.


  46. Just to be clear: I am not at all convinced that the Puritans & Covenanters meant by prophecy what Grudem et. al mean.

    I would favour a position that these things may appear to be miraculous, and may be providentially extraordinary, they have been called “extraordinary providences”. Indeed they may be somewhat similar to what we mean by the internal call to the ministry &c. God is God of the mind, and heart as well as the external world. That’s what I believe is still a possibility.

    In addition history can play tricks, and we would need to be careful of constructing doctrines based on interpretations of history.

  47. David,

    Yes, in the very first paragraph of Dr. Gonzales’ fine article he admits: “…in his commentary on Ephesians 4:11, Calvin argues that the offices of apostle, prophet, and evangelist have ceased, and only the offices pastor and teacher are perpetual. However, in his Institutes he concedes that the Lord “now and again revives them as the need of the times demand.”

    Also, “there certainly have been Reformed Christians who have been open to the possibility that God could revive some of the extraordinary gifts in unique situations…”

    How does Dr. Gonzales account for this quote from Calvin, and also for the Scottish Prophets?

    Does he assert that even the framers of the Confesssion were inconsistent in the application of their own documents and that Calvin, Gillespie, Baille, Bridge, et al, were unconfessional?

    If Dr. Gonzales does not say that Calvin and these others were mistaken or unconfessional, then I am not saying anything contrary to what Dr. Bob already knows and acknowledges.

  48. Calvin most likely had men like M Luther in mind.

  49. Trevor said: “Most would not claim that current “prophecies” are Scripture-quality revelation.”

    I do not get this. If “prophecies” are not “scripture-quality” then they are not prophecies by definition. All biblical prophecies are inspired by God and are infallible. If one says an utterance falls below this standard, then do not call it prophecy. Call it illumination, insight, or something else.
    Of course, if you do that, then it destroys the argument for continuationism, or else, if it is scripture quality, it destroys the claim to believe in sola scriptura.

    Quoting 1Cor 14:3,31 does not disprove my assertion, it only discribes the result that prophecy has on those who hear it.
    If it is not scripture quality, then do not call it prophecy.

  50. Max,

    Calvin and others of the Reformed called these phenomena “prophecies” and called some people from among them “prophets”. I don’t quite get it either, but they said these things, even while affirming the first chapter of the Westminster, which testifies to a closed canon.

    So, I am far from a charismatic, but I also have read Calvin and these “Scottish prophets” and have been perplexed as well. I, too, was shocked even to hear this open-ness to prophecy from among some of the framers of the Westminster (“Can’t they see their inconsistancy” I used to think).

    My conclusion is that God grants special and extraordinary providences at times.

    If you have a better term for it, I am willing to adopt it, but Calvin and the others called it prophecy, so I have followed suit. Not one of these reformed men ever tried to say that these phenomena were “Scripture-Quality revelation” nor did any of them argue for anything other than a closed canon.

    This explains why I am hesitant to label some men today as “charismatic” when they speak of ongoing fore-telling prophecy. Because there is a historic precedent among some of the reformed for believing this very thing, or at least being “open but cautious”.

  51. Trevor – Thanks. But I must say – our forefathers were wrong to use the term “prophecy” in the way they did. And just because they did so, does not mean we should continue to do so.

    Using a biblical term wrongly leads to confusion and error. Let’s use biblical terms biblically, and invent new terms, if necessary, to discribe extraordinary phenomena that are not ongoing gifts. Or else, work harder at discribing them accuratly with terms we already have. I suggest “occasional extraordinary illumination” as a possible term. Historical precedent does not justify the mis-use of biblical terms, when we know better than to do so.

  52. Dear brethren,

    My fear that present day charismatic Calvinists would influence us more than we them is realized. Ten or fifteen years ago this discussion would have ended a long time ago.

    Change has occurred. I suggest it is not good. I fear it is only the beginning. Next they will influence us concerning the moral law, Sabbath, and RPW. I am not a prophet. But simply open your eyes and read the previous posts! It’s happening!


  53. Max,

    The Puritans seemed to use the term illumination for inward guidings of the Spirit I believe (the Spirit giving understanding of a spiritual truth). So that term seems to already be taken.

    But, I do agree with you and wish that there was a better term to use, since the Reformed prophets and prophecies never claimed to be scripture-quality revelation and all the people I quoted above in my citations to a man believed in WCF chapter 1 and a closed canon. “Extraordinary providences” ?

    Thanks for your interactions.

  54. Trevor, it seems to me that much argument has been given for accepting teaching of the new calvinists/charismatics based on a handful of arguments from Puritan forefathers. We do not hold these men, Puritan thought they be, to be our standard. I would suggest that all argumentation come from the Scriptures – that is our standard. They are sufficient.

    I leave you with the words of John L. Girardeau:

    “Let us endeavor, by grace, to make this church as perfect a specimen of Scriptural truth, order and worship as the imperfections of the present state will permit. Let us take her by the hand and lead her to the Word alone. Let us pass the Reformers, let us pass the Fathers, uncovering our heads to them in token of our profound appreciation of their labors for truth, and heartily receiving from them all they speak in accordance with the Word; but let us pass on and pause not, until with our sacred charge we read the Oracles of God, and with her bow at the Master’s voice. Let obedience to the Word of Christ in all things be the law of her life, so that when the day of review shall come, and section after section of the universal church shall halt for judgment before the great Inspector Himself, although, no doubt, there will be much of unfaithfulness of life that will draw on His forgiveness, His eyes may detect no departure from His Word in her principles, her order and her worship.”

  55. Mike,

    We claim to be “reformed” and we cite the Reformers when it suits us…but now you reject them on this issue?

    Also, please grasp the nuances of my argument.

    I am not arguing that we become charismatic.

    I am arguing that we not lump all people who assert the continued existence of ongoing fore-telling prophecy to be “charismatic” – this is entirely too simplistic.

    As well, do not charge all advocates of “possible continued fore-telling prophecy” with denying Sola Scriptura or not fully trusting in the Word of God, for I have documented clearly that many of the reformed, including the framers/commmissioners of the Westminster Confession itself left open the possibility for the continuation of prophecy and prophets. Accuse those men, if you dare, of denying sola scriptura.

    Again, your quote insinuates that the reformers, including Calvin himself did not fully rest on the Word of God alone; for Calvin, too, left the possibility open that God might again raise up prophets.

  56. Trevor,

    While most men have gone on to other things (perhaps rightly), I feel constrained to add a final post in summary of what I have learned and think.

    1. We must speak in love. You are to be commended on the polite yet forthright manner you write. You are an example to us all. We are brethren, as are Piper, Grudem, etc. We must stand for truth yet speak in love.

    2. We must acknowledge our confessions (WCF/LBC) are rather clear on this matter. Special modes of revelation have ceased (those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased), yet, God is free to act as He pleases (God in his ordinary Providence maketh use of means; yet is free to work, without, above, and against them at his pleasure). This as I understand it is the confessional and Reformed view.

    3. We must teach our people of their (newer Calvinists) faults and urge them back to our forefathers who (as you have shown) had a healthy view of experience, the Spirit, the law, delight, duty, and Christ. These men had big heads, big hearts, and busy hands and feet. Not to take away from men such as Piper, I usually point people back to his mentor (Edwards).

    4. We must remember that we (old or new school), are on the same team. It is rather obvious that we differ on some things. Yet we must be willing to work through issues. This is not easy when we have strong convictions. Yet our purpose is doing so is to defend truth and not merely our own preference or opinion.

    5. We must be careful not to overly generalize things. You mentioned music. I would have you know, that this past Lord’s Day morning for example, we sang three hymns. The first was What can wash away my sins, which we sang to an acoustic guitar (it was beautiful–I wanted to raise my hands, shhh, don’t tell anybody this:). The second hymn The Power of the Cross we sang to the piano, and then we closed with singing Psalm 95 to the piano. My point? We can no longer make broad general assumptions about each other. While we will never budge on certain issues (dv), neither am I desirous to make us as odd or different as possible. I agree we can do many things better and even more successfully.

    6. We must be men of the Book. We must be willing to conform to its teaching regardless of results.

    7. We must all repent of our sins. We must confess we “know but in part.” We are great sinners. Bless God for a great Savior and salvation!

    Mike Waters

  57. Mike,

    That is about as awesome a summary as I can think of to end on.

    Thanks for your comments.

    I’d love to worship with you someday on this side of glory. My email is:

    Thanks for sharpening my iron.

  58. Trevor you post was well written and informed regarding some historical aspects of developments that occurred within Calvinism both on the continent and in the US.

    Unfortunately focusing on selective contexts of the development of Reformed theology has given most of the readers the assumption that there is amongst calvinists a monolithic character in all cases and at all times.

    The debates between Edwards and other reformed pastors at the time of the Great Awakening concerning the earliest altar calls by Calvinist congregations became the beginnings of early revivalism and resultant differing views on free will and conversion. Surprisingly many have no idea that revivalism grew out of Calvinist congregations who began to engage in practices that took different views on the exercise and ability of the will, all in some vein in the colonial years to ensure citizenship and promote a state church.

    Thanks for your thought.

  59. I read the article concerning Charismatic and REformed theology yoking together and the problems etc., relating to this.
    As I would like to think of myself, a normal Christian, that is, a person who wishes to just be a follower of Jesus and the entire scriptures as they are given to us, my thoughts expressed here are not going to be proposed in a manner reflective of some scholastic approach. But rather in just plain simple and hopefully bibical in content.
    Today, denoniminationalism is more to me like what Paul was condeming in Corinthians about how divided they were when some said they followed Apollos, others Peter and then the pious who followed Christ. To me it is no different. But the depraved nature and mind of fallen people even after salvation seem to thrive on this approach. Would it not be best to just always approach our biblical teachings and our church (physical aspects) under some umbrella that doesn’t emphasize a denomination? Then, having said that, we can’t put God in a box. No where in the scritpures does it state categorically that “miracles and gifts” realting to out of the ordinary matters “are no longer functional or operational” by God in this day and age. Certainly “special gifts” were given to the Apostles for their ministry at that time, but we find multitudes of gifts in individuals which brought healings, other astounding matters taking place in the life of “others” who were not Apostles, such as Stephen and Philipp. To say God “doesn’t perform miracles and give a person some type of miracle gift” is not spoken of anywhere. He is in charge of the gifts and He decides when and where those are dispersed. They may not be prevelant today in our circles but that doesn’t mean God is hampered or not going to do such things again. In fact, He will as we see in Revelation. Also, there are places around the world now that special miracle workings are taking place to promote the glory of God and His message of salvation. Testimonies are out there about this for all to read.
    I certainly do not agree with heresies that exist in the Pentecostal and Charistmatic movement on many Biblical Doctrinal issues. But just because those groups abused the teachings on gifts and miracles doesn’t mean we Reformed folks should “toss out the teachings of Christ” on this matter. If God wishes to He can give the gift of languages to a person. If He wants to He can give the gift of healing to a person whereby through their prayers a person is healed of an infirmity. To say God CAN’T do this today is not true and no verse states such! Implications and “reading into” the scriptures produces such ideas! I would like to have someone who is true to context and true to Greek and English state me “one” verse where it says God cannot and will not do any more special miracles today and will not give a person a gift in these areas. You can’t find it because it doesn’t exist! Following denominational traditions and writers opinions is what usually takes place. To break free from that is very hard and will of course cause a person to lose their positions and their fellowship usually. Should not happen but it does!
    These are my observations and understandings of these issues briefly. I know it will not change anything but I do have great difficulty reading and listening to men and women who say things that are JUST NOT in the scriptures and even go to such an extent to say they are “implied” when they are not! Twisting the word is easy when you wish to keep things “in a comfortable” position to fit one’s theology and statement of faith! We just need to be more honest and more open about God and His word. Just because we don’t see something taking place doesn’t imply at all God is never going to allow this again or will not do it again. He can do what He wants to do when He wants to do it without asking the denominational headquarters of a group permission or any other preacher permission. It is time we quit misrepresenting God for He will bring us all into His presence and we will give an account for any misrpresentations.

  60. Lamar,

    Let me offer some responses to your comments:

    1. Are we not all just “normal Christians” who desire to follow the Lord and be obedient to his Scriptures?

    2. Being a “normal Christian” who just wants to follow the Scriptures does not mean that we abandon the distinctions of denominations on this side of the kingdom. My “simple” interpretation of the Scriptures does not lead me to believe that Paul’s denunciation of the party spirit in Corinth (1 Corinthians 1) is related to conscientious differences in faith and practice among believers in particular churches who clearly name (denominate) their confessional commitments. In 1 Corinthians 11:19, Paul offers this counsel to believers regarding differences over the Lord’s Supper: “For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you” (NKJV).

    3. The kind of non-denominationalism (really “anti-denominationalism”) your promote was espoused by Alexander Campbell and the “Christian” churches (which are a denomination sine nomine) and led to various errant practices (i.e., denial of confessions that clearly state how one interprets Scripture, belief in baptismal regeneration, easy-believism). Let’s learn from the past.

    4. You imply that the Bible teaches that various individuals exercised miraculous gifts, outside the apostles, and list Philip and Stephen as examples. Both Philip and Stephen, however, were church officers (among the seven set aside to serve the widows’ table in Acts 6). Can you find an example in the NT of someone who is not an apostle or apostolic associate with miraculous gifts?

    5. You claim that no one can produce specific passages that refute the continuation of extraordinary gifts. Most sound Biblical arguments, however, are not based on isolated prooftexts but on what Paul calls “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Has not the Lord given pastors and teachers to the church to teach and interpret the Bible? With regard to cessationism, is there not a precedent in the Scriptures for the Lord removing direct revelation to his people and creating “blackout periods” (see 1 Samuel 3:1: “And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation”; Micah 3:7: “For there is no answer from the LORD.”). Was there not such a period from the end of the time when the OT was written and before John the Baptist began his public ministry? Are we not now in a similar time? What specific passages would I cite? Here are some: Mark 16:20 (the ministry of the apostles confirmed and accompanied by “signs”); Acts 5:12 (signs and wonders done “through the hands of the apostles”); 2 Corinthians 12:12 (Paul notes the specific “signs of an apostle”); Ephesians 4:11 (there are offices like apostle and prophet that cease [cf. Acts 1:21-26 for the apostolic qualifications], so we might assume that there are also gifts [associated with these apostles] that cease). Do these not constitute a credible witness against continuationism?

    6. We do not base our doctrine or practice on “testimonies” of contemporary extraordinary experience but on the warrant of the Word of God. Those reports can be false, corrupted, or deceptive.

    7. To uphold the Bible’s teaching regarding the cessation of extraordinary offices and gifts among men in no way implies that God is limited or that he does not choose miraculously and providentially to intervene in the natural order as he pleases.

    8. To uphold the cessation of the apostolic office and the extraordinary gifts associated with it is in no way “to toss out the teachings of Christ” but to uphold them. It is not to “twist the word” but rightly to divide the Word of God. It is not “misrepresentation” but faithful interpretation.

    Jeff Riddle

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  62. The problem with cessationism is obvious: it’s not taught in the Bible. If you believe in the sufficiency of scripture, you can’t consistently believe in a doctrine that isn’t taught in scripture.

  63. Cessationism is taught in the Bible. That’s why our Baptist forefathers held to it.

  64. I agree with Bob Brown and the Bible.

  65. I believe that Trevor Johnson’s thoughtful and measured responses indicate that the Baptist forefathers associated with the LBCF may have held to a variety of positions on the spiritual gifts. From my perspective, it seems like Trevor desires to see more unity amongst us in our day like our forefathers.

    When I read and study the scriptures, it seems abundantly clear that the spiritual gifts are only possible because of the person and work of the Spirit in the life of the believer and the church. The spiritual gifts are evidence of God’s sovereign grace. In fact, the Greek word for gift is similar to the Greek word for grace. Whatever one believes about such controversial topics as the spiritual gifts, 1 John 4 still applies to all Christ followers and Christ-centered churches everywhere in the world.

  66. I have yet to hear a valid (biblical) argument for why the gifts have ceased. How they are practiced is usually what is addressed, with too many assumptions to count (and this article is no exception). Each concern noted are great “concerns”, but obviously there were concerns in Corinth as well or Paul wouldn’t have addressed them in a letter concerning this topic.
    Here are my concerns about teaching the gifts have ceased:
    Imagine if the gifts are today, and as stated in the 1689 confession we must worship in “spirit and in truth”. Assume also the regulative principal is of one’s conviction, also consistent with the 1689 confession. Would we not assume that God actually wants us to experience the gifts today? Would we not be missing something the Lord has for us. Paul says speaking in tongues is “edifying” to oneself when praying to the Lord. Prophecy with biblical fences edifies the Body of Christ. Most importantly, the Bible doesn’t say they ceased, and so to not practice them, or be open to them is to cut from the Bible an important part of Christian Life.
    Specific to this article the 1689 confession is not clear what those “former ways” are. All evangelical doctrine holds to the authority of Scripture above all and would suggest there are no more OT style prophets and angels (Hebrews clears this up). To suggest the 1689 confession intends NT gifts of the Spirit (only the miraculous kind of course) have ceased is reading into the document that which is not stated. Beside that point, could you not suggest that “historical confessions” are of similar concern, considering they are extra biblical. Could we not question the sufficiency of Scripture by our dependency on these extra biblical materials? In Short, all Christians must “test” all things with Scripture this includes Charismatics or Cessationists.

    I suggest anyone read “are the miraculous gifts for today” (one example) to get a broader spectrum of the Biblical arguments.

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