I am not a charismatic.  It is hard for me to describe myself as a traditional cessationist either. I refer to myself as a “de facto” cessationist. What does this mean? Essentially, when it comes to the so-called supernatural sign gifts such as gifts of tongues, prophecy, workers of miracles, etc, I have never seen anything which would convince me that there are modern day manifestations of these gifts. There certainly could be, I just have not seen them. (I have written about it here.)

Concerning the gift of prophecy (the idea that one can speak on behalf of God in a “thus-says-the-Lord” type way), I have never seen this either. I would love to have God speak to me, or better, through me, in such a way, but he never has. I have never heard the voice of God and have never been his spokesperson other than through my interpretation of Scripture. Although, I must admit, I had a strange occurence twenty years ago. I had a drunk I gave a ride to in downtown Oklahoma City tell me that God told him I was going to be a preacher. At that time in my life, it was a joke to think such. It was not enough for me to think much of, and the guy was drunk!

I could not make a very strong argument that God has stopped sending prophets or stopped speaking directy to people. My theology does not demand such. I have simply just never seen one. However, there is an argument out there that more traditional cessationist’s (those who’s theology argues that the supernatural sign gifts have ceased in the first century, usually with the death of the last Apostle or the completion of Scripture) make to argue their case. It is an argument that I think is very weak and fails to understand the nature of prophecy and the nature of what constitutes Scripture. It goes like this:

If the gift of prophecy is still being given and there are people out there who speak directly on behalf of God, then the canon is still open.

What this means is that if God is still speaking in any way, whatever is spoken, by virtue of it being God’s words, needs to be added to Scripture. Maybe a new book, letter, Psalm, or just a page added to the end of the Bible, this argument insists that a belief in modern day prophecy demands an open canon.

I disagree.

Here is the basic problem I see with such an argument: It misunderstands the nature of prophecy and the nature of the canon.

1. Nature of prophecy: There is no reason to think that prophecy always has corporate or salvific implications. To think that everything that God has ever said is relevant to all people simply cannot be defended. Prophecy can be individualistic. While it is true that the nation of Israel had their prophets that spoke concerning the nation as a whole and the future of the nation and the church has had its Apostles and prophets who spoke on behalf of God concerning the Gospel, the nature of the church, and the consummation of all things, this does not mean this is all prophets speak about. In fact, there are plenty of indications that many of prophets spoke to individuals about rather mundane things such as the location of lost donkeys (1 Sam 9:6, 20), an adulterous affair (2 Sam 12:7), and corporately about issues with no transcendent purpose at all such as acts of God in nature (Acts 11:28). One could argue that these “non-transcendent” prophecies were setting the stage for the prophet so he could qualify to speak about more transcendent issues, but this does not seem to be the case. What transcendent issue did Nathan speak about? What about Abigail?

In the end, while prophets were given by God to speak about issues of paramount importance, they were also given to speak about rather non-consequential stuff as well. Therefore, the drunk who told me I was going to be a pastor could certainly qualify even though his “prophecy” was of no ground breaking importance.

2. Nature of the canon: This is related to the first, but involves a slightly different assumption. The supposition here is that the canon of Scripture is made up of everything that has ever been inspired. Here inspiration equals canon. If it is inspired, it should be added to the Scripture.

But why would we ever assume such a proposition. Scripture is not made up of everything that has ever been inspired. There is very good reason to believe that there were a lot of inspired words from God that never made the canon cut. A great example of this is the early years of the prophet Saul. While were are given some background to his story on how he was called to be a prophet, we don’t know anything about how he was established among the people as a legitimate spokesperson for God. Yet as we follow the narrative in 1 Samuel, we see that Saul considers him an already established prophet due to many prophecies that we don’t have recorded in Scripture. Notice what Saul says in 1 Sam 9:6: “Behold now, there is a man of God in this city, and the man is held in honor; all that he says surely comes true. Now let us go there, perhaps he can tell us about our journey on which we have set out” (emphasis mine). We don’t know all that he said that came true since it is not part of the canon. This is a definite occurrence of God speaking through someone that was not recorded in Scripture. Therefore, the principle “if it is inspired, it belongs in Scripture” fails here. We could do the same with many of the Prophets. Look at Nathan. We barely have anything from him. His most famous encounter is when he indicts David for his affair and murder, but are we to suppose that this was his only prophecy? He was already a respected prophet, yet Scripture does not record his prophecies. What about Christ? Everything he said was, by definition, inspired. Yet we obviously don’t have an exhaustive account of all that he said. In fact, even John says that there were many other miraculous signs that Christ performed which were not written down, letting us know that even signs, wonders, and miracles were not always recorded because of their non-transcendent purpose.

John 20:30-31
“Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;
31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”

Therefore, I think that it is evident that not everything that God says belongs in Scripture. The canon of Scripture is made up of everything that God has said that is relevant to all people and, normally, pertains to salvation history.

Again, I am not a charismatic. I have never heard the voice of God. Nor have I seen what I believe to be modern-day prophets. However, I don’t think that it is wise to attempt to argue for a theology that demands the cessation of God speaking today, especially if the argument’s main thrust is that if God is still speaking, then the canon is still open. This argument simply does not work and is contrary to the biblical evidence.

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C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    38 replies to "“If there are Modern Day Prophets, then the Canon is Still Open” . . . And Other Stupid Statements"

    • EricW

      The extreme cessationist position sometimes reminds me of the scene in The Frisco Kid where the Polish rabbi Avram (Gene Wilder) is being asked questions about God by the Indian Chief, esp. re: the fact that the Indians are in dire need of rain:

      Chief Gray Cloud: [in reference to Avram’s god] What does he do?

      Avram: He… He can do anything!

      Chief Gray Cloud: Then why can’t he make rain?

      Avram: Because he doesn’t make rain. He gives us strength when we’re suffering. He gives us compassion when all that we feel is hatred. He gives us courage when we’re searching around blindly like little mice in the darkness… but He does not make rain!

      [Thunder and lightning begin, followed by a downpour]

      Avram: Of course… sometimes, just like that, he’ll change His mind.

      I.e., they say that people are to believe in the God of the Bible, a God who proved He was the one true God by showing and proving Himself to His people via divine visitations, miracles, dreams, words of prophets, etc. Yet when asked if God is still like that and does those things anymore, they say “No” (except in extremely, extremely rare or extraordinary circumstances, and even then, one can’t always be sure it’s God).

      So they want people to believe in the God of the Bible as the Bible describes Him as being and doing, yet want such people’s faith to be in a God who is NOT like the way the Bible describes Him as being and to not expect the Bible God who they are told to trust to save them to act like the Bible God in whom they’ve been told to trust for their salvation.

      Okay, maybe I’m being a bit extreme.

      Or maybe not.

    • cherylu

      Seems to me you have a good point EricW!

    • Jim

      I am certainally not Charismatic in doctrine, though one day I was crying out to God in frustration about the matter of sharing my faith and never seeing any fruit, as I was praying, [now this is wild] I heard a distinct and clear voice in my mind, it wasnt my voice, it said “Be more direct” rather in my presentation of the Gospel, well, I began doing that and have since then have seen quite a few people come to know the Lord. So, did God “speak” to me?

    • KVB

      I think it would be helpful to give further definitions for words like “Canon” and “inspired” Otherwise statements like this are hard to comprehend: “Scripture is not made up of everything that has ever been inspired.” What makes something “inspired”? It is the fact that it its in the Canon? What is the Canon? A collection of “inspired” words? It starts to look circular…

      Have you interacted with “The Biblical Canon” by Lee Martin McDonald and “The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church” by R.T. Beckwith?

    • cornellmachiavelli

      CMP,

      I am somewhat confused about your beliefs regarding these miraculous gifts (what I call the messianic gifts passed on from Christ to his Apostles). Is not Heb 2:3,4 a statement that miracles were no longer a part of the experience of the second generation of Christians? And the gifts of Apostle and Prophet were gifts that helped lay the foundation of the church. Are you arguing that the gifts of Apostle and Prophet “could be” operational today?

      CQ

    • Laurie M.

      Excellent post – you’ve helped me pull together a few of the loose ends in my thinking. (I, too, am what you call a de facto cessationist.)

    • ScottL

      CMP –

      Under #2 in the article, I think the first occurrence of the name Saul is supposed to be Samuel. But not sure.

      cornell –

      I think CMP would definitely say apostles don’t exist and he is not going to say prophets can’t exist. He’s just never seen one. But maybe I speak wrongly for him.

      But I would say that I don’t think Heb 2:3-4 can be used to teach miraculous sign gifts would cease after the first century (or at any point). The passage says Jesus declared our great salvation and then those who heard (which could be more than the original 12 apostles) attested to that same message of salvation. What did they attest to – the message of salvation. The passage does not say the 12 apostles had their message attested to by signs and wonders. It says they attested (testified) to that same salvation message that the Lord Jesus did. Vs3 then goes on to say that they were also used in signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit. I don’t believe there is any specific connection in this verse that signs, wonders, etc, were only done by apostles and would only be done for a few decades. Quite a few others than the apostles were used in those things as well (Stephen, Philip, Ananias, etc), especially gifts of the Holy Spirit. So it wasn’t just something apostles got to do, though they did get to participate in them as well.

    • carl Peterson

      I agree with KVB. What does inspired mean to you? In some reformed circles there is inspiration and illumination that is given by the Spirit. I think inspiration is a tricky word theologically.

      Bruce Waltke wrote a book that woul seem to address some of your issues of inspiration that are not in the canon. I think it is called Finding the Will of God or something like that. anyways in it he argues against prayers from individuals wanting specific answers to the will of God in their lives. I think there are some problems in is argument but his book does seem to speak to what you are arguing.

      My main problem with much of the prophetic and apostolic stuff that is going around parts of Christianity today is the easines of it. Some say “Thus saith the Lord ” with almost no fear. Then they are wrong and nothing happens to them. the Bible is pretty strick with false prophets. also I usually do not find what they say to be very helpful. It usually sounds more like someone giving another a fortune or a tarot card reading than prophecy in the Bible.

      And finally personally I think the Holy Spirit speaks with all Christians individually. He convicts of sin, Illumines the word, and brings encouragement to the believer to name a few things. I do not know about if God still would tell someone explicitly to say certain words to someone or to go to such and such a place and find a donkey or whatever. I woudl be very cautious about such things in others lives and even in my own.

    • cornellmachiavelli

      Scott

      Heb 2.3,4
      “It was first communicated through the Lord and was confirmed to us (second generation Christians) by those (first generation Christians) who heard him, 2:4 while God confirmed their (first generation Christian) witness with signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.”

      The important thing to note is that the signs were performed by the first generation Christians, NOT the second generation Christians. The second generation Christians witnessed the miracles; they did not perform them. The miracles were not performed by the second century Christians, but miracles were being performed during the second generation time since the author of Hebrews (a second generation Christian) witnessed the miracles but did not perform any.

      Dan Wallace has a good article on this at bible.org.

      Sorry if I wasn’t clear.

      CQ

    • ScottL

      cornell –

      The interesting thing to consider is that while Hebrews was being written, it would still have been ‘first generation Christians’. I hope you don’t only consider the initial 12 apostles as ‘first generation Christians’. And I think you are trying to make a case that the writer to the Hebrews was never used in signs, wonders, miracles and gifts of the Spirit. I don’t know how we can conclude such, especially from this specific text. What we can conclude is that ‘those who heard’ (many more heard besides the initial 12 apostles, hence why they had a group of people to consider from which they chose Matthias to replace Judas) were specifically used in these things, but not discounting others being used in them.

      Still, there were lots of people that heard the message. But I’m fine it the writer of Hebrews is only talking about the 12. It still does not say anything that ONLY the 12 apostles were allowed to perform such signs, miracles, wonders and be used in gifts of the Spirit, or that it was only for the ‘first generation’.

      I’m not sure which version of Scripture you are using, though it looks similar to the NIV, but I wonder if the translation is coming through the lens of the translators. Check out the ESV version, which does not instrinsically connect the attesting of the message in vs2 to the bearing of signs and wonders in vs4.

      The thing is, we got quite a few examples of people being used in miracles, signs, wonders, and gifts of the Spirit besides the apostles. You’ve got Stephen (Acts 6:8), Philip (Acts 8:4-8, 39-40), Ananias (Acts 9:17-18), Cornelius and household (Acts 10:44-48), Agabus (Acts 11:27-30 & 21:10-14), Ephesians disciples (Acts 19:1-7), Philip’s four daughters (Acts 21:8-9), the Corinthians (1 Cor 14), the Galatians (Gal 3:5).

      And that’s just what was specifically recorded in the NT. As they said about Jesus: Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book (John 20:30). Who knows how many were used, outside the 12/first generation, in signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Spirit. The same Spirit has been with every generation. If we read church history carefully, we will see signs and wonders and miracles and gifts of the Spirit for 2000 years.

    • jim

      Scott:

      Can you please give me some names of these prophets that performed these miracles , visions, prophecy.

      You mentioned ” we will see signs and wonders and miracles of the spirit for 2000 years. I left out “gifts” Can you list some prophets who have established themselves as such within the last 200 years. Keep in mind that there prophecies are always true, God does not make mistakes…..

      Show me a bonified prophet, healer, raiser from the dead person.

      For I have met no such person, but I don’t get around that much!(LOL)

      In Christ

    • ScottL

      I can name a few, but I suppose you will say that you’ve never heard of so and so or that the person exaggerates. That is a usual response I can get.

      I work with a group of churches that believe Jesus still desires to gift people as such. Since Jesus was all five ministries in Eph 4:11, then I suppose He sent His Spirit to continue that same work, and that same Spirit has indwelt the people of God for 2000 years. So I can only expect that the same apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, shepherding and teaching ministries have continued for 2000 years. Just looking to exemplify our Lord.

      More specific known names is Reinard Bonnke. Used quite frequently in Africa. Brother Yun, whom you can read about in The Heavenly Man has been used quite frequently in such miracles and signs. He is from China. It’s a little different than in the US where the underground church adds some 20,000 to it a day. My close ministry friend, Joel Onesimus, has been used in absolutely miraculous ways in his ministry in India. He has preached in almost 100 varying languages and dialects, but has never learned any of these languages, one even being English. My close ministry friends Alan Scotland and Ian Rawley have been used in words of knowledge, miracles, healings, and the sort for the past 20+ years or more.

      I don’t suppose any of these names ring a bell, which is fine. It should be like that. Christ wasn’t out there promoting Himself. He got on with the work of God.

      I could also give you some lovely quotes from early church fathers on miracles and gifts of the Spirit.

      I also think we misunderstand the ministry of the prophet and prophecy. We base our thoughts solely from a couple of passages in Deuteronomy, and as if we still lived in the old covenant theocracy of Israel. We don’t. Read about prophecy in the new covenant (New Testament). Matter of fact, Acts 2:17-18 make it clear that we are not just a priesthood of all believers, but also a prophethood of all believers (you can see my thoughts on the link).

      I sensed your comment was a bit fiery towards me. I would simply ask you to recognise that there are now 500 million Christians in the world that recognise themselves as Pentecostal or charismatic. It is the fastest growing part of the church. And it isn’t just us ‘regulars’, but also major theological thinkers are involved in such growth. We can’t be that far off, can we?

    • Marv

      CMP,
      Your premise is entirely correct, IMO. May I suggest reserving “inspiration” for how the Bible uses it, that one time, as the process by which the Scriptures were produced. What is said, scripturally, to be inspired is the graphe, the written text.

      Otherwise, revelation occurs, a more general term. The NT speaks of his people receiving revelation (1 Cor 14:30) and this is NOT inspiration. No suggestion ever that we ought to jot this prophecy down and toss it in the Canon.

      This is extra-Biblical revelation, clearly. There is nothing more Biblical than extra-Biblical revelation. It runs through the whole Bible. It never was, and never will be, either a substitute for, nor a challenge or competitor to the Scriptures.

    • Marv

      Jim,

      It simply isn’t true that, even in OT times, verbal prophecies were completely true. What it says it that if a prophet says something, predicts something, that does not happen as predicted, then the prophet spoke presumptuously. Then the prophet is liable to the penalty.

      Now there isn’t much point in having a penalty in the Law regarding prophets if their prophecies were inerrant. In other words, they are responsible for speaking ONLY God’s words, but not GUARANTEED to speak only God’s words.

      The Scriptures, the sacred writings, are different, because they are INSPIRED, and thus guaranteed to be ONLY God’s words, therefore completely true and reliable.

      In the NT, prophets similarly OUGHT to speak only what God has said to them to say, but still may speak presumptuously. However, what we DON’T have now is the death penalty for this. We have the congregation weighing and testing what is said. Then simply discounting the bad and holding to the good. This has to do with the general “democratization” of prophecy in the New Covenant. The Spirit is given to all believers, and prophecy is explicity stated in Acts 2 to be much more common, even a characteristic of the Church age.

    • jim

      You persume alot for me! I am not judging your Christianity in any way. Are you suggesting you know someone who can speak many hundreds of languages and has never before had any knowledge or training in these languages. Is this documented?

      Again I remain somewhat doubtful……..Why is it predominately in the pentecostal church that we find this happening……Is it because of your faith in these things, or your expectation that these gifts should occur.

      I’m from a baptist background and we have never had a prophet or healer amongst us. My only comparison are the Benny Hinn’s of the world, which leave a great distress upon my heart!

      Anyhow, brother, have to run and pick up my son….God bless!!!

    • ScottL

      Jim –

      Sorry for the presumption on my part. I guess I jumped the gun.

      The man who spoke these languages without ever learning them or taking classes is a ministry friend of mine. Our churches work together. I know it is easy to say he could be duping me, exaggerating. But I have no reason to believe that, since he is a dear friend and brother. Maybe one of the most humble people I have ever met on planet earth. I could go on and on about how God has used him, but my friend would be embarrassed knowing such. Just his testimony of how he came to Christ was probably a pointer of the miracles he would be used in during his life. Not too long ago, the gov’t actually had a doctor poison him, with he almost dying. When I saw him in Nov, he was still in recovery from such. But God is not done with using him.

      Do know I am not trying to create a 2-tier class: the have’s and the have not’s. I know some have done that, and it has been destructive. I would suppose that those in the more charismatic and Pentecostal churches are open to these things a bit more. Again, I don’t say that arrogantly. But there is usually a somewhat of a more desirous heart to see God move in these ways. But we will find it hard to see things in the midst of a people who don’t expect God can or will do such and especially since they ceased hundreds of years ago.

      I, too, used to be in a Southern Baptist church. I grew in a very solid foundation there in the word and my faith. But when I met the Spirit beyond what was a black ink on white paper doctrinal statement, I spent some time praying about the way forward. And after about 6-8 weeks, I knew I had to become a part of a community that knew God could still move in those things, which I had met a small church community. At the time, it was mainly about learning about the Holy Spirit, but since those 11 years ago, it has been about a lot more.

      I do know there are many who exaggerate, fake, maybe even deceive. Though I am charismatic, I do not like everything I see presented on tv. I wish we would just get on with the work of Christ rather than creating celebrities, and making our money. But I will leave the great shepherd to do what He needs to do in His time. But one thing I have learned about our faith is this: Misuse and abuse should not lead us to no use, it should lead us to healthy and biblical use.

      Hope you got your son ok!

    • ScottL

      Marv –

      I’m struggling trying to see how you would differentiate between inspired and revelation. Is not revelation from God (theopneustos) and the inspired text also from God (theopneustos)?

      I understand that all revelation has not made it into the canon, thus, as you said, it is extra-biblical revelation. That kind of revelation has been happening from Genesis to the present day. But the description of inspired (God-breathed, theopneustos) in 2 Tim 3:16 is specifically a positive affirmation of the Scripture (graphe), not necessarily a statement saying that the spoken revelation not recorded in the graphe is not inspired. Hope that makes sense.

    • Kirkus Maximus

      “Again I remain somewhat doubtful……..Why is it predominately in the pentecostal church that we find this happening……Is it because of your faith in these things, or your expectation that these gifts should occur.

      I’m from a baptist background and we have never had a prophet or healer amongst us. ”

      I’m from a baptist background as well.
      What I LOVE about that is the Bible background and importance of scripture I received.

      When I was told about baptism with the Holy Spirit, the first thing I went to was the Bible commentary I received for my 8th grade graduation from the private Christian school I went to–which said the baptism, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit from 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 weren’t for today.

      The guy ministering to me didn’t hand me a rival commentary, he told me to look up what the Bible said (including the one passage the commentary mentioned) and to obey THAT!

      As I did that, I was baptized with the Holy Spirit and began to pray in tongues.

      I know 3 Baptist pastors who had similar experiences who subsequently were removed from their pastorates. THAT could inform the issue, because of Baptist people get involved in “signs and wonders” or “extrabiblical revelation”, they can get “the boot.”

      I find that one’s belief affects their expectation. If you never pray to build the church through prophecy as 1 Cor. 14:1-5 says, you likely never will prophecy or build the church that way.

      I’m a missionary; I encounter people who REGULARLY don’t think they can ask God for money to provide for them (in things such as rent, purchasing their first Bible). If they don’t change their belief, they never change their behavior (asking Jesus to provide for their legitimate need) and they don’t see any answers to prayer (as James says, “you have not because you ask not.”)

      People who think that if they ask God for His Holy Spirit will get a demon (contrary to Luke 11:9-13), never ask for His Holy Spirit, or the gifts accompanying the Holy Spirit.

    • jim

      Thanks Scott !

      I know a pentecostal minister in our area, and love him and know him to be a man of God, so my bias isn’t against this church.

      I just have a real hard time accepting supernatural abilities in the gifts of healings and prophesy. Anyhow, you hit the nail on the head with the black ink on white paper comment, although I have improved greatly , not so dogmatic or legalistic. I thank this blog and the theology program by CMP with this progress.

      I guess my experiences of these gifts misused is part of the problem, how do you know when it is authentic? This subject is probably off topic now for this blog so I will close with a blessing to you, God bless, and take care my Christian brother.

      In Christ,

    • ScottL

      jim –

      How do we know if it is authentic?

      1) Start in Scripture.
      2) Stay connected with faithful leaders, but also ones who have known these things and are open to them.
      3) Stay connected to the body of Christ that you are a part of.
      4) Pray for discernment when such things happen. Don’t immediately discount.
      5) Read some materials that will help you learn a little more.
      6) Start taking time to practise listening to Him and hearing from Him, as if He wants to speak.

      I also have some material I could email if you want. You can email me at [email protected].

    • Marv

      Scott,

      The only thing to which theopneustos is attributed is the graphe, the sacred writings, Scripture. This is an objective thing which has come into being, a written text, ink on “paper,” though the text is not equal to the physical marks on the surface of some medium. Theopneustos tells us something about the provenance of that text; though it is produced by the mind, mouth, hand of a man, it is also spoken by God. And it now exists as such, potentially for anyone to read, perceptible to the senses, reading, hearing. It does not tell us how this happened, but does tell us who did it: the Spirit, and how far the process, the result, the guarantee extends: to the written text, one step, at least, beyond the man.

      Now I think the Scriptures do tell us that God reveals to people and people do pass on that revelation. This is the essence of prophecy. This also is done by the Spirit, who conveys something to the mind of the individual. What is this? A sentence, a paragraph? Could be. A picture? An idea, though not in words? An understanding?

      I think we see revelation happening in all those forms in the Scripture. These may be non-propositional, fleeting, uncertain, unclear, mixed with thoughts arising in us, misheard. And in no case is is accessible to anyone but that person. The fact that this, admittedly, remains subjective makes it so very different from what we have in the Scriptures that I am reluctant to import the concept of theopneustos over from it to these.

      That person’s report, the prophecy, then is yet a step beyond. It ought to be exactly what was revealed by the Spirit to the person, but in this age where prophecy is “democratized” this will differ by maturity, experience, personality and such. Therefore, these things need to be tested, confirmed, held loosely, and most importantly held to the standard of the Scriptures which are the only “theopneustos” communication that rules life and faith.

    • EricW

      I recently (i.e., within the past few months) read a statement somewhere (while glancing through a book, I think?) positing a different meaning/translation for theopneustos, but I can’t for the life of me remember where I read it or what the author said, except I remember it intrigued me.

      I wish I had access to recent NT Journal articles on lexical studies that might enable me to track this down.

      Anyone here have any info re: it possibly meaning something other than our usual “God-breathed”?

    • cornellmachiavelli

      ScottL

      The first generation Christians would NOT be limited to the 12 Apostles. Many first generation Christians were given the sign gifts. I don’t recall saying that the first generation Christians were only the 12 Apostles. Your last post seemed to center on that point exclusively, and yet I don’t recall ever making it, did I?

      The term “first generation of Christians” is not strictly limited to some time period. It refers to a group of Christians whom the writer of Hebrews places in an earlier class than the author(s) and those to whom he/they were writing. I use the term since Dr. Wallace does.

      I’m not sure when the sign gifts ended, but they were only given to first generation Christians. I originally thought the sign gifts ceased some time BEFORE the composition of Hebrews (see Wallace’s article) and 2 Timothy (since Paul no longer possessed his sign gift of healing, 4.20). But now I’m inclined to believe that the sign gifts ceased when the last of the “first generation” of Christians died, and that could run into the early 2nd century!

      The next time sign gifts will appear is when the man of sin appears, as Paul says in 2 Thess 2:9 “The arrival of the lawless one will be by Satan’s working with all kinds of miracles and signs and false wonders…” However, since the Tribulation period is still part of the Mosaic Dispensation (there are 7 years left), others may once again be given the power to perform certain miracles, such as the two witness (Rev 11).

      Here is the URL for Dr. Wallace’s article on this: http://bible.org/article/hebrews-23-4-and-sign-gifts

      CQ

    • cherylu

      cornellmachiavelli,

      How do you come to the conclusion from II Timothy 4:20 that Paul no longer had the gift of healing? Remember on his journey to Rome by ship as a prisoner in his final imprisonment, he healed many on the island where they were ship wrecked.

      If you look at a Bible atlas, the island of Malta where it says they were shipwrecked and those healings took place was really quite close to Rome. And Meletus is many, many miles in the opposite direction. So obviously Paul still had the gift of healing until very shorly before his final imprisonment in Rome and long after he had been anywhere near Miletus.

    • Eric Wright

      I am not a cessationist. I am also not charismatic.

      I have never spoken in tongues, but I believe it happens whether I understand it or not. There has been no real explanation that has, for me, sufficed to explain away what happened in the NT and what Paul describes in Corinthians. For me the modern practice of tongues is confirmed because of some very godly people with whom I am friends who regularly have the experience. They have no reason to lie. I trust them and their experience of God.

      I have also had some very real times where I have heard God’s voice. I wouldn’t make it Bible, but it was VERY real.

      As to the prophetic office…some would say that NT Prophets are the same as OT prophets, but many would not…Thomas Oden, I think, describes NT prophets as sensing the voice and movement of God but not being on the same level as the OT Prophets. They may or may not be sensing what God is saying accurately. OT Prophets are more akin to the NT Apostles who wrote Scripture.

      Another book that helped me in this regard was Dallas Willard’s Hearing God.

      I tend to believe that God acts the same way today as He did throughout the Bible…we are often just too “modern” to see it. Why have miracles when we have science to explain everything.

    • Lisa Robinson
    • EricW

      Lisa:

      I don’t believe it was that P&P thread where I read a different meaning for theopneustos. In fact, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t on P&P, and it may not have even been on the Internet; rather, it was a book I was skimming, I think.

      But I really don’t remember.

    • EricW

      My mind is really going. 🙂

      Via a Google search, I found that I had asked this same question on B-Greek about theopneustos, mentioning that I had read this alternate meaning somewhere I couldn’t at the time remember – on July 25, 2006!!

      So here I am nearly 4 years later still wondering where I read it….

    • […] nor a traditional Cessationist, has written an interesting piece at Reclaiming the Mind – “If there are Modern Day Prophets, then the Canon is Still Open,” which is part of his “stupid statements” series. Patton more or less points out that a […]

    • cornellmachiavelli

      cherylu,

      Reread my post carefully. You will see that I agree with you. You were responding to something “I originally thought.”

      In fact, your very observation is one of the reasons I put the cessation of healing to the death of the last first generation Christian. Paul’s ability to heal ceased before he died, so I can’t be sure of my tentative conclusion. We need to bear in mind that the sign gifts served a confirmatory purpose (as we saw in Heb 2.3,4). These sign gifts where also confirmatory of the Apostolic Office (2 Cor 12, the signs of an apostle…). Since the Apostle John died around AD 100, I have to allow for that. I would not argue with anyone who claimed the sign gifts (the messianic gifts) ceased at the very moment of John’s death, since the sign gifts served a confirmatory purpose, and that confirmatory purpose included the confirmation of the gift of Apostle… primarily.

      CQ

    • cherylu

      cornellmachiavelli,

      You said, “I originally thought the sign gifts ceased some time BEFORE the composition of Hebrews (see Wallace’s article) and 2 Timothy (since Paul no longer possessed his sign gift of healing, 4.20).” That sounds to me like you still believe that Paul’s gift of healing had stopped in II Timothy 4:20. Is that not what you were saying there? That statement and that statement only was what I was commenting on in my question to you. If you take a close look at what I wrote, the Bible itself proves that is not the case.

      Now you have stated agin in your last comment that Paul’s ability to heal ceased before he died. Again I would ask, how did you come to that conclusion? Are you basing it on something other then the II Timothy verse that I have already discussed? I can’t think of any Scripture that would make that plain.

    • cherylu

      I have an interesting book, “A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs” that is a collection of quotes by Christians in the pre-nicene period. They are categorized by subject matter so it is easy to locate quotes and beliefs on a given subject.

      I have just done some looking in this book and came up with these interesting facts:

      Justin Martyr spoke of gifts from God including foreknowledge and healing as happening currently. This was about 160 A.D.

      Iraneus around A.D. 180 speaks of the dead being raised in answer to prayer and people being healed by disciples laying hands on them.

      Origen in about 248 A.D. speaks of people being healed in the name of Jesus although he does say that these things have diminished in frequency since the time of the Apostles.

      So according to the witness of these folks, these things were still going on in the middle of the of the third century.

      And there is a lengthy quote from the Apostolic Constitutions which was supposedly compiled in about A.D. 390 which speaks of signs and wonders, casting out demons and raising the dead, words of knowledge, etc. as being in the present tense.

    • cherylu

      First, I want to apologize for commenting three times in a row here. But I really need to make a correction to my last comment. Please ignore what I said there about the quote from the “Apostolic Confessions”. I did some more reading on that document after I posted that comment and it seems that it is questionable if it carries much weight or not. It is supposedly a compilation of writings from the end of the first century into some point in the fourth century. Some claim they are valuable history, others claim they they were edited and rewritten by some one that may very well have been a follower of the Arian heresy. So a quote from this source may or may not provide a truly historical picture. And even if it is accurate, there is such a large time frame covered in the compilation that I don’t believe it would be useful in this discussion at all.

    • cris

      I think the argument that when prophets have spoken there has been new revelation recorded in scripture is sound but not conclusive. All we know of prophets, even the nonconsequencial ones, are recorded in some way in scripture. For the 400 years from Malachi to John the baptist there were no prophets that we know of because there was no new scripture being written. Theyy seem to go hand in hand. But the real reason I do not believe there are any new prophets is the same reason I do not believe there are any new priest, nor any new Kings over God’s people the way there were priest, prophets, and kings of Israel,. That reason is that Jesus fulfilled the role of prophet, priest and King. He is still priest and King forever, so why would we think He still maintains these two roles and not the role of prophet? To sum it up, one would have to usurp Jesus’ position to be King, priest, and prophet. Suporting this is the fact that scripture is not being written. This last point is a sign of the cesation of prophets. There may be people who are given a word (by whom it comes is debatable) but this does not mean they become prophets like Isaiah or Malachi, et cetera.

    • Bryan

      I think the question we have to ask is why wouldn’t these things keep on? The direct scriptural comments about the matter are very sketchy. Moreover, we recall the fellow in the gospels who was casting out demons in the name of Christ, even though he was not a follower. Christ didn’t seem to feel it necessary to say the guy was a fraud, so maybe he wasn’t.

      I’m not comfortable with limiting the ways the Spirit might see fit to work in our world. I figure that’s entirely His decision.

    • Steve

      If the prophetic gift has ceased then Paul got it wrong when in canonized scripture (1 Corinthians 14) he instructed believers to earnestly desire spiritual gifts, ESPECIALLY the gift of prophecy.

    • Bill

      As I earnesty sought for understanding with regards to “gifts”, the Spirit tied in a couple of verses that quite obviously reveal to the believer, what our expectation should be with regards to the longevity of the actual practice of gifts for the perfecting of the saints.
      Consider 1Cor. 1:6,7,8
      “Even as the testamony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
      This has nothing to do with the completion of the Bible.

    • James-the-lesser

      One of the most controversial doctrines for ministry is perhaps the so-called “Five-fold ministry” based on Ephesians 4:11 which reads:

      “It was he who gave some to be (1) apostles, some to be (2) prophets, some to be (3) evangelists, and some to be (4) pastors and (5) teachers.”

      Primarily as a result of this verse, some believe God has restored, or is restoring, the offices of apostle and prophet in the church today. Ephesians 4:12-13 tells us that the purpose of the five-fold ministry is, “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
      So, since the body of Christ definitely is not built up to unity in the faith and has not attained to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ, the thinking goes, the offices of apostle and prophet must still be in effect.
      However, Ephesians 2:20 informs us that the church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone.” If the apostles and prophets were the foundation of the church, are we still building the foundation? Hebrews 6:1-3 encourages us to move on from the foundation. Although Jesus Christ is most definitely active in the church today, His role as the cornerstone of the church was completed with His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. If the work of the cornerstone is, in that sense, complete, so must the office of the work of the apostles and prophets, who were the foundation, be complete.

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