Monday, May 2, 2011

Calvinist Continuists?

Recently I was perusing a well-known systematic theology when I come across a rather large section dealing with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Mind you the book is not authored by one who would consider himself a Pentecostal. But I was amazed at how tainted by Pentecostalism this man's thinking was. He argues vehemently against the Cessationist position, whilst claiming to be "Reformed" (broadly defined). I have quoted from Warfield more than once that the Continuist position of Rome with regard to the supernatural gifts was one of the things for which the Reformers earned the name "Protestants. So, it is quite bewildering to me to see someone claiming to be Reformed, yet eager-beaver to defend the full gamut of Pentecostalist "gifts."

What perplexed me most of all was his way of handling the gift of prophecy. He essentially argues that prophecy in our day happens exactly like it did in Old Testament times, yet it does not carry the same authority. Somehow or other, God has decided to let the human mouthpiece taint the message more than the Prophets and Apostles. So now we have prophecy that is true, yet not necessarily accurate. What amazes me about this definition is that this is EXACTLY the same position taken by the Liberal Theologians of yesteryear regarding the Bible. Moreover, this brave defender of Scripture and its inspiration and authority has, with this definition, effectively destroyed the foundation for both.

If, in our day, God can allow humans to color revelation in such a way as to remove its absolute authority and inspiration, how pray tell, can we have any certainty that He wasn't making revelations this same way during the writing of the Bible? If Brother Billy Dwayne can inject something of himself into his prophecy so as to lessen its accuracy, and thereby its authority, how do I know that St. Paul didn't do the same thing? If Pastor Wayne can be inspired to give a direct revelation by God, which we are not allowed to inscripturate as a new New Testament, how do we know that Titus or 3 John has a higher form of inspiration?

This is one of many reasons that I hold to a strict form of Cessationism. Considering passages like Deuteronomy 4:2 and Revelation 22:18, 19, I wonder how people expect to escape the wrath of God when they hold such an abominably low view of inspiration.

Lest one be tempted to think that I am misrepresenting the Pentecostalist or Charismatic view of prophecy, let me tell you that I met an Assemblies of God pastor in Amboy, Illinois who told me personally that he was part of a team of Pentecostal scholars (ain't that a kick in the head!) who were compiling prophecies that had been given over the last decade or so, to be published as a special section in the back of a new Pentecostal Bible. They were going to publish a Bible with contemporary prophecies included. I want to know who gets included among this illustrious group of prophets? Who makes the call that you are one of them? And who decides which prophecies of yours get included? I defy anyone, including the author of the famed Systematic Theology to prove: A) That these Pentecostalists are not being consistent with their own principles, B) That this is not a denial of the sufficiency of Scripture, C) That any type of Continuism does not eventually lead here, and D) That the Biblical doctrines of the authority and inspiration of Scripture are not hereby destroyed.


  1. I happen to be a cessationist myself, but I wouldn't go as far as you seem to be going here and condemn(is that what you're doing?) any reformed student of Scripture who may hold that some of the miraculous gifts continue. Sproul? Mahaney? The entire Sovereign Grace church network?

  2. Thanks, allthyngs, for your feed back. You and I are both cessationists, I suppose for good reason. I believe that this is what Scripture teaches. I grew up in the Pestecostal movement and I can speak from first hand experience. I just don't see any way to leave open the door to continuing revelatory gifts without destroying the sufficiency of Scripture and that is why I speak as strongly as I do. I have deat with continuism in several other posts which may clarify what I mean, and what I take traditional Reformed Theology to mean, by Cessationism.


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