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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Because the Bible Tells Me So...

Do you smell ozone?
Phillip Johnson has been showing why he is the first stop for most Christian blogophiles. He's continuing his "my problems with continuism" posts. His posts are filled with logical arguments and gracious treatment of his opponents. But, predictably, he has ended up under "the bottom of an angry dogpile of 'Spirit-filled' critics." While I admire the Pyromaniac's brass, let's look at what he's up against.

Mr. Johnson's comment pages overfloweth with vitriol, most of it from the continuationists. My personal favorite posts all come from Brad Meyer. His rough-and-ready rhetorical style is perhaps due to his usual blogging on politics. But this comment took my breath away:
What's in my heart is the rejection of a neutered god who no longer intervenes. Phil does have a large audience that he is influencing. For the same reason he feels compelled to correct those who claim new revelation through prohecy, I feel compelled to challenge what he is offering as an alternative.
I'm not more desirous to have visible demonstrations of power than to be content with invisible workings of the Spirit- I'm simply turning away from those that Have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof.

It would be easy to snidely suggest that once we all are manifesting the fruit of the Spirit--call them invisible workings if you will--we might have some time left for snake handlin', but this would be unkind. Let's take a look at Mr. Meyer's text of choice, as he seems to be quite concerned with making scriptural arguments.
1But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
6They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone. 2 Timothy 3:1-9

Ouch. This text is quite obviously not about believers. It is clear that this is about false teachers of the worst stripe. I doubt Mr. Meyer feels this way about his opponents in this debate (I hope Phillip Johnson isn't worming his way into any homes), but he may want to reconsider his position as a champion of prooftexting. It is all too easy for any of us to reach for any stick with which to flog our opponents.

Category: Theoblogia


  • Sorry for deleting my previous post...just meant to edit it...

    anyhow, noticed you got mentioned on Pyromaniac!

    Anyhow, thanks for your comments and Brad's comments. (I wasn't sure if you agree with Brad or not?)

    While I lean more towards cessationism, I am concerned with a "dry faith" that becomes purely intellectual. Is it all about just reading the Bible and spending the rest of your time pursuing the American Dream? Maybe Phil will address this in forthcoming posts.

    By Blogger Kristie, at 9:18 AM  

  • Kristie,

    I not only disagree with Mr. Meyer's sloppy prooftexting; I also disagree with his continuationism. I really didn't want to make that the focus of my post, though. There are plenty of gracious defenders of continuationism out there (Grudem, et al); I just wanted to call Meyer on his overheated rhetoric.

    I personally believe that God can do whatever he wants. But what passes for "prophecy" today does not meet the biblical definition of the word. So, I guess I'm a nominal cessationist.

    That doesn't make me despair, though. When we know the depth of our own sinfulness, sanctification seems to be a miracle beyond compare. I think that's why the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians are so focused on it. If we begin to desire to use the Holy Spirit to do magic tricks to alleviate our own boredom, we are no better than Simon Magus.

    I think that there is a danger of a "dry faith" that is just intellectual assent. But a living faith may be quieter and more unassuming than we want in our American-entertain-me lifestyle.

    Thank you for the comment.

    By Blogger Jeremy Felden, at 8:34 AM  

  • Jeremy Felden said...
    Just wanted to follow up the above post as it seemed a bit harsh as I re-read it. There are plenty of people out there who want to see a charismatic revelation of the Holy Spirit in their own lives to give them assurance of salvation. I think that they are very misguided (sometimes by those who claim that this is the only true assurance of salvation.) But even if the Lord works in the same manner as in the apostolic era, not everyone will be a miracle worker. Not every apostle raised someone from the dead. Miracles are God's to perform and we cannot command God. So I believe that we all must be prepared to fill our role in the body of Christ, signs and wonders notwithstanding. If we are honest, very few of us could handle that sort of thing without being tempted to pride.

    8:45 AM

    By Blogger Jeremy Felden, at 8:47 AM  

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