“Charismatics are wrong ‘cuz it never happened to me” …and Other Stupid Statements. (Response to CMP, part 3)

By Marv

This post is part of a series responding to C. Michael Patton’s eight-part series at Parchment and PenWhy I am Not Charismatic,” which is also conveniently available for download as a single e-book here. This is in response to part three.

Michael,

First, please don’t take the title too seriously.  It is, as you might suspect, an hommage to your own provocatively titled series, last seen here.  Besides, you start your part three by admitting that its argument is (a) not a very good one and yet (b) one that works for you.

I appreciate the irony though.  In certain circles it is Self-Evident Truth that Continuationists (a) follow experience over Scripture, and (b) are doing that “evil and adulterous generation” sign-seeking thing (Matt. 12:39; 16:4).  Yet here you tell us, first, that while the preponderance of Scriptural evidence backs Continuationism, you remain a Cessationist due to your experience.  Then, second, you demand a sign, failing which, you remain a (de facto) Cessationist.  It’s refreshing, to say the least.

With that introduction, here are a few thoughts on your part three.

1.  You are “open” Biblically and theologically to Continuationism.

The other day I heard somebody on the radio giving the usual condescending admonition to Continuationists always to give Scripture priority over experience.  This same guy kept making reference to “the four sign gifts.”  It was the first time I’d heard these given a definite number.  (Does that mean tongues has ceased but interpretation of tongues continues?)  I’d really like for him to put his money where his mouth is and show me the Bible passage teaching “the four sign gifts.”

Be that as it may, of course Scripture is the only infallible rule of faith and practice.  Michael, you pointed out some strong Biblical support for Continuationism in your part two.  As Scott has observed, you did seem to leave out Christ’s own teaching on the eve of his crucifixion (John 14-16).  This, I submit, is the place to start, and really leaves no doubt that the Father’s plan, the Lord’s instruction, and the believer’s expectation should be:

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)

So, Michael, if the Bible teaches something, if Christ teaches something, what kind of response is it to be “open” to it?  Try saying, “I’m open to that salvation-by-grace-through-faith thing, but I’ve never had a genuine gospel experience.”  The apostle Paul tells us to: “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” (1 Cor. 14:1) I mean, you don’t suppose “be open to” is an adequate translation of zeloute here?

What I am trying to say, Michael, is that as far as you’ve come from your previous self-confessed bias against Continuationism, if the Bible supports it, then why not move beyond “openness”?  Your lack of experience, I suggest, is in part due to lack of conviction that the Bible really teaches this.  What you see depends on what you expect to see.

POLICE INSPECTOR: “By George! How ever did you see that?”
HOLMES:  “Because I looked for it.”

2. Your expectations.

So what are you looking for, Michael?  May I suggest, based on some of your remarks, that you may have spent some time barking up the wrong proverbial tree?

First, as odd as it seems there is a whole preconceived notion about just what a “gift” is that may need rethinking.  You remark:  “I have never witnessed anything that would lead me to believe that someone has, as their gift to the body of Christ, any of the particular gifts…”  Well, if by this you mean some kind of at-will wonder-worker, I don’t think this has ever been the case. 

The concept of “gifts” is a reference to the fact that the works of Jesus, done by the Body of Christ, are distributed among the members.  These are first of all gifts given by the Lord to us, not our gifts to the Body.  Second, I don’t think the Bible teaches us it was like a team of spiritual X-men:  X has the power of prophecy, Y has the power of healing, Z has the power of tongues.  Based on what Paul says, on a given day any believer may give a prophecy, though not all will (1 Cor. 14:26, 31).  It may have been that some people particularly excelled in a particular gift, and so may be associated with it, but I think it is fallacious to understand a rigid one-for-one correspondence.

Second, in regard to prophecy, you refer to “the surrendering of my mind.”  I don’t think that is what New Testament prophecy calls for.  Paul says prophecy gives “upbuilding and encouragement and consolation” (1 Cor. 14:3).  It may instantly resonate with someone (1 Cor. 14:24-25) or else is to be weighed (v. 29). 

As far as requiring a “sign” is concerned, well first, I thought you considered prophecy a “sign gift.”  Isn’t it already a sign, then?  “prophecy is [a sign] not for unbelievers but for believers,” Paul says (1 Cor. 14:22). 

Besides, with all the New Testament teaching on prophecy, and the clear “democratization” of prophecy in Acts 2, you go to Moses for the example of how things are to be done?  Deut. 34:10 states: “And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.”  It might be nice if all who prophesied lived up to Moses example, but I wouldn’t expect this.  Is this really reasonable?

Also (and I just love it when Cessationists tell Continuationists how spiritual gifts ought to work) you opine:

If someone claims to speak on behalf of God—if someone claims to have a prophetic gift—you have every right and obligation to demand an attesting sign. As well, if you think you are a prophet—if you sincerely believe that God has called you to such a ministry—you need to tell God that you cannot do so without such a sign.

Okaaay, kids, always remember to talk back to God.  Umm, Michael,  in the first place, you draw on the example of Moses, whose demand for authenticating sign was not so much a sign of faith, as of reluctance, hesitation, doubt.  God had already given him His word to proclaim, and Moses hemmed and hawed until he ran out of excuses.  Go and do thou likewise?  So say you, Michael?

Second, this whole thing isn’t about anyone’s claim to have this or that gift.  It’s about believers being the Body of Christ, and God giving His words and doing His works through us, as he did through Jesus (John 14:10).   

Furthermore, it isn’t only prophets who speak on behalf of God.  Teachers, such as yourself do. 

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God.  (1 Pet. 4:10-11)

 

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Cor. 5:20)

 

Are pastors, teachers, and evangelists also to demand from God a sign, since they too speak on behalf of God?  Well, the good news is, we don’t need to demand, because God has always planned to co-testify as we deliver His message (Heb. 2:4).

In regard to what you say about healing, again, I think you are under a misconception to imagine a “gift of healing” as attached permanently to a particular person.  This is not necessarily what we as Continuationists are saying.  Moreover, your conceptually separating  praying for healing from “gifts of healings” is also missing the point.

But you knew I would say this, didn’t you.  And you head this response off at the pass.  You are told “that’s not the way it works.”  And, of course, you, a Cessationist–never seen it–know better:

If you say, “It’s not like that. God simply uses me sometimes to heal. I never know when he is going to and when he will deny such a request.” I would say that we are simply talking past each other. In my estimation, you do not have the gift of healing. You, like everyone else, simply have the ability to pray for healing, leaving the answer in the hands of God.

 

I agree about the talking past each other here, but, Michael, let me say gently, it might behoove you back up, hold your preconceived notions loosely, and listen to that perspective–there just might be something to learn.

When you begin to learn, you first do not even know what you do not know.  Some things need to be unlearned before learning can take place.

3.  The learning curve.

I don’t say that, or write these posts, claiming vast amounts of knowledge.  Only, it is really is a strange thing when Cessationists are sure they know more about spiritual gifts than Continuationists.  You point out how others aren’t doing it right.  Their prophecy is banal.  Their prayer for healing and any subsequent answers to prayer is not “the gift.”  Well, I agree that the Continuationist side may not be doing everything quite right.  Yet they are believing the Lord’s instructions, and doing something, and mixed results are better than no results. 

The church today largely has to rediscover what has been forgotten.  As with any practice, there is a learning curve.  At one time, these were passed on.  Jesus instructed His disciples how to minister in power, and they taught others.  Well, we haven’t got that now, I grant you. And I am not for an instant suggesting that contemporary Continuationists are infallible guides.  Still, how wise is it to completely disregard these?

So where are we to begin today? To recover what the Scripture teaches but generations have not really practiced?  You begin with the Scriptures, of course.  You begin by being convinced from Scripture that the works that Jesus did ought to be in evidence in the church today. 

But what does this look like?  Prophecy, for example.  How do you do it?  How do you know when it is happening?  Does it feel like something?  Does the prophesier hear a voice?  Audibly?  Inaudibly?  How do you really know it’s God?

I submit, Michael, you won’t know the answers by sitting on the sidelines.  There is hit and miss here, trial and error.  Does that seem little too messy?  Well, what are we supposed to do?  Don’t like the whole glass-half-empty thing?  The Cessationist answer seems to be “I don’t see any New-Testament quality miracles,” so out it all goes. 

What about half full?  How about getting in there and helping?  Don’t quite like the way things look in the Pentecostal, Charismatic, Third-wave, whole Continuationist world? So many of the Bible-scholar, teacher types have retreated into Cessationism, and left others to fend without them.  Is there a lack of balance in Continationism?  Whose fault is that?  Those who are in the game or those who are not?  For my money, I’d point a finger or two at the armchair quarterbacks.

4.  Get in the game.

So what we’re talking about here is you’ve never had a “genuine charismatic experience.”  Well, okay, you used to go to a “third-wave” college.  These days, do you ever put yourself in an environment where you might just have such an experience?

I was going to point out, if you were not already aware, that you have a fabulous opportunity in Sam Storms having moved to Oklahoma City.  Then of course I saw here that he’s now on Theology Unplugged.  Okay, so you two have met.

Still, my point is Credo House is what, 3-1/2 miles from Bridgeway Church?  Dr. Storms is, as you know, top notch in Bible exposition and theology.  And I doubt you can find a better go-to-guy for Continuationism–in these United States, anyway.  I believe Dr. Storms was not in town when you wrote this series last year.  So okay.  Now, however, you have no excuse.

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35 responses to ““Charismatics are wrong ‘cuz it never happened to me” …and Other Stupid Statements. (Response to CMP, part 3)

  1. Do you really believe “mixed results are better than no results.” You are willing to settle for what kind of looks right as opposed to what is actually right?
    Isn’t that merely an introduction to error? Open the door and let a little in?

    “You begin by being convinced from Scripture that the works that Jesus did ought to be in evidence in the church today.”
    Scripture teaches that all those things would vanish and pass away so we have no basis for believing that they ought to be in evidence today!
    That is why your comment: “…put yourself in an environment where you might just have such an experience…” is not only ill advised but the road to hell in a manner of speaking. The situations I have been in and others is a complete bust and an absolute fraud!

  2. I absolutely DO mean that. My “day job” is in medicine. So if someone comes up with a remedy that cures cancer half the time–only half the time, you’re going to say, either it gives a 100% cure or we shouldn’t use it?

    Let’s talk spiritual realm here. Do you display 100% obedience to the Lord in your daily life? Do brothers and sisters in your church? Are you going to say unless your active personal righteousness is perfect and complete, don’t even try to obey the Lord? I don’t think so.

    What about prayer? Read the Scriptural instruction, the promises. It’s mind boggling what we are told. And I’ve seen some amazing answers to prayer. Other times, well, not. What’s going on. I think we’ve got a thing or two to learn about prayer, about what these promises actually mean. Do you advise people to stop praying because of mixed results? My goodness, the answers to prayer reveal God’s power and goodness, bring glory to Him. It is what HE wishes. So what if we can’t claim some kind of perfect record for prayer–that’s not what it’s about.

    Anyway, when I say “mixed results,” this isn’t equivalent to “what kind of looks right.” You misunderstand my meaning entirely. Praying for healing is a good example. If we are convinced–from Scripture–that supernatural healing ought to occur, and we proceed accordingly. And it turns out the Bible is RIGHT, and we see people healed, which we DO, but not by any means every time we would like to see it…
    Should we pick up the Cessationist mantra that if it is not instantaneous, complete, permanent, and I guess happens every time, at command… then it is not worth pursuing? Or that the healing, glorifying to God though it may be, is wrong.

    I’d love to see things equivalent to the book of Acts, the shadow-thing, for example, if that is what God wishes to do. But I’m not willing to despise the works of Jesus that actually do break into the world through believers that believe the Lord’s instructions.

    And you’re concerned about “introduction of error”? And yet you make a statement like “Scripture teaches that all those things would vanish and pass away so we have no basis for believing that they ought to be in evidence today!”

    Um. Does it really? Where?

    On the other hand, I say “works that Jesus did ought to be in evidence in the church today.”

    I say this because Jesus said “whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do.” Unless believing in Jesus has also “ceased,” that’s still in effect. Old orders are good orders. Where’s the recall? Seriously, WHERE?

    I’m going to go with what Jesus said. If following his instruction is an error, so be it.

    By the way, who gives a flip about the “situations [you] have been in”? You cessationist, again, are we supposed to be guided by the word of God or by your experience? And then we get the friggin’ projection…

    By your words, your authority is your prejudice. I meant my title as a kind of provocative jab, but you appear to endorse it whole-heartedly: “Charismatics are wrong ‘cuz it hasn’t happened to me.” I don’t wish to be insulting, and I appreciate your reading and your commenting, truly I do, but such a statement doesn’t rank high on the “usin’ the noggin” scale, in my humble estimation.

    • You wrote:
      I absolutely DO mean that. My “day job” is in medicine. So if someone comes up with a remedy that cures cancer half the time–only half the time, you’re going to say, either it gives a 100% cure or we shouldn’t use it?

      No, I am going to say, if surgery is prescribed, it is going to be based on science and not a roll of the dice, and when the incision is made to excise the tumor, a scalpel will be used instead of a punt gun!

      We are not talking about praying for healing, we are talking about the edification gifts listed in the Bible that were once practiced in the first century. Your settling for “mixed results” would then show little confidence in the gifts which does not reflect well on the Giver.

      You wrote:
      I’d love to see things equivalent to the book of Acts, the shadow-thing, for example, if that is what God wishes to do. But I’m not willing to despise the works of Jesus that actually do break into the world through believers that believe the Lord’s instructions.

      Honestly, I am not willing to despise the work of God through believers that have totally misinterpreted the Lord’s instructions and thus practice that which has no biblical basis. I can say that I will praise His Name if He chooses to do so. This does not justify the practice of error though when Scripture has revealed that we have superior equipment that has long replaced those temporary gifts.

      You wrote:
      And you’re concerned about “introduction of error”? And yet you make a statement like “Scripture teaches that all those things would vanish and pass away so we have no basis for believing that they ought to be in evidence today!”
      Um. Does it really? Where?

      You are kidding, of course! … No? You really have no clue where a cessationist might perchance get that from Scripture. What pronounced cessationist has there ever been that has not used that passage that we all know we are talking about? ;^)

      You wrote:
      On the other hand, I say “works that Jesus did ought to be in evidence in the church today.”

      Without any qualification? Upon what grounds? See my comments following concerning our apostle Paul.

      You wrote:
      I say this because Jesus said “whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do.” Unless believing in Jesus has also “ceased,” that’s still in effect. Old orders are good orders. Where’s the recall? Seriously, WHERE?

      You are paraphrasing John 14:12 the context of which is Jesus and the disciples, he was not preaching to the masses here. Also, it is not “whoever believes” it is “He who believes” and in context of the passage, that applies to the disciples there who were apparently having trouble doing so. Jesus told the same disciples that they would do even greater works than Jesus did.

      Verses 12 through 14 don’t leave room for “mixed results” in my opinion. Jesus says explicitly that “If you ask it, I will do it!” (Cp. Mt 17:20; 21:21; Acts 6:8) Or perhaps according to verse 21, those who are poor at keeping His commands can only expect “mixed results”?

      I accept Mark 16:15-20 as Scripture and I don’t believe for a second that there were anything approaching mixed results then, I believe they were absolute and without question and without doubt! I would not believe in any lesser god. Likewise the testimony of Peter, Stephan, and Paul et al. in Acts: no mixed results.

      When do we find “mixed results”? How about like when we find Paul complaining of his ailments, Trophimus left at Miletus sick, and Paul exhorting Timothy to “stir up” his gift as if it was like a dead camp fire needing to be brought back to flames. We find them after Paul announced to the Corinthians that the Gifts would be indeed recalled and be replaced by the more excellent way. Only then do we start to find “mixed results”!

      Old orders get superseded by new orders…especially when old orders are only returning “mixed results.”

      You wrote:
      I’m going to go with what Jesus said. If following his instruction is an error, so be it.

      Jesus’ instruction is no error but your interpretation and application could very well be! The progression of revelation finds that Jesus authorized Paul to speak for Him and Paul was given the ministry to the Gentiles. In other words, Paul is our apostle, the apostle to the uncircumcision. Paul instructs us to follow him even as he followed Christ. So our imitation of Christ is qualified through Paul. Acts 15 shows the circumcision apostles and leaders admitting and ceding as much.

      It is a fine thing to put captain of our salvation up on a pedestal, but it is absolutely perilous to ignore new orders which supersede old ones when He gives them!

      You wrote:
      By the way, who gives a flip about the “situations [you] have been in”? You cessationist, again, are we supposed to be guided by the word of God or by your experience? And then we get the friggin’ projection…

      Excuse me, but I was not the one exhorting to “get in the game”! The point is, I have been there, done that, and learned that “the game” is a shell game and a scam. Therefore, such exhortation is an invitation to be defrauded. It also shows a blatant lack of love for the saints to be so flippant with their souls. So yes, let us be guided by the Word of God rather than be misguided by error! The invitation sounds to me like this: “Go ahead and play on the freeway during rush-hour, sure it is fatal but hey, some of us have had “mixed results”! You are telling the saints to go to battle with the previous war’s technology when new and superior equipment is available! The Corinthians were armed to the teeth with that old stuff and they still were failing to maintain rank on the field.

      You wrote:
      By your words, your authority is your prejudice. I meant my title as a kind of provocative jab, but you appear to endorse it whole-heartedly: “Charismatics are wrong ‘cuz it hasn’t happened to me.” I don’t wish to be insulting, and I appreciate your reading and your commenting, truly I do, but such a statement doesn’t rank high on the “usin’ the noggin” scale, in my humble estimation.

      I don’t know, I think I would modify the statement, to make it more intelligent of course, to read as follows: “Charismatics are wrong ‘cuz it hasn’t happened to them.” Now remember, we can’t give a flip about personal situations, so spare me the anecdotes and go to Scripture instead and present me with answers. Unlike Michael, I am convinced Scripture is clear that the Gifts have vanished and passed away.

    • Yes, the banter can become boring quite quickly and there may not be many here who appreciate my jabs and attempts at humor!

      As a cessationist, I disagree with the typical cessationist notion that the “perfect” in 1 Cor 13:10 refers to the completion of the Scriptures. I do believe Scripture is complete and that it is essential for body life and edification. Thus it is a secondary result to what the achievement of the “perfect” is referring to.

      But neither can it refer to the return of Christ since that is irrelevant to the context as well.

      Now I have seen some assert that one of the faces in the phrase “face to face” in verse 12 refers to God’s face. There is no basis for this! The subject of the sentence is “we” which refers to those in the context: the Corinthians and Paul. “Face to face” here is a unique phrase. There are several idiomatic usages of the term “face” and whatever it is determined to mean here has to honor the referents and the context. One usage is the showing of partiality and considering Paul is addressing that as one of the problems causing division in Corinth, I believe Paul is using the phrase “face to face” to mean something to the effect of not showing partiality and rather treating each other equally. See 11:17ff., 12:12-13.

      Furthermore, after the ceasing, passing, vanishing away of the edification gifts, verse 13 states that faith, hope, and love remains. While love is eternal, we know faith and hope are realized at the return of Christ. Thus the passage requires (unless we are going to conveniently ignore this verse) a period of time AFTER the cessation of the gifts and BEFORE the return of Christ in which only faith, hope, and love remains. It is in this period that the body operates according to the more excellent way of love when that “perfect” has come.

      Enough to chew on for now, more later.

      • Ross –

        See my comment below, as I do have some links of other articles here that might be worth interacting with.

        You said: Now I have seen some assert that one of the faces in the phrase “face to face” in verse 12 refers to God’s face. There is no basis for this! The subject of the sentence is “we” which refers to those in the context: the Corinthians and Paul.

        The ‘we’ is what we might term a representative we. The usage of such is not simply referring to a few thousand people (Paul and the Corinthians), but would have been just as relevant to the Ephesian, Galatian, Laodecian, Roman Christians. Basically everyone, including those down the centuries. This again is because it is a larger representative we, not a particular we.

        To be honest, your thoughts on ‘face to face’ are very creative, meaning there is no substance to this view. It’s pretty clear what the ‘face to face’ refers to. You recognise the lack in the more traditional cessationist argument with regards to 1 Cor 13:8-12, but then you go and put together something that is also found wanting. Again, see my article on the subject. Also, Marv spends a good deal exegeting the passage in this article.

        Thanks

  3. John C. Poirier

    Ross,

    I agree with you that our views should be based on Scripture. In that light, would you please tell us where, in Scripture, you believe it “is clear that the Gifts have vanished and passed away”.

  4. Ross –

    Thanks for coming back and interacting with us. It is good to discuss these things. I will quote a few of your statements and make some comments myself.

    This does not justify the practice of error though when Scripture has revealed that we have superior equipment that has long replaced those temporary gifts.

    What is the superior equipment? I suppose you are referring to the Scripture. Are we told anywhere that the 66-book canon of Scripture would replace all the works of Jesus? I love the Scriptures, read them, study them, teach them, and see them as the starting point for all of our understanding of God. But no where does even Scripture say it would replace any of the works of Jesus – from compassion, to reaching the hurting, to laying hands on the sick for healing, to prophetic words from God (that do not contradict Scripture, but come from Him). And what about all of the early church fathers who testify to the continuation of these gifts of the Spirit? Click on the link provided to read some amazing quotes from our fathers of the faith.

    You are paraphrasing John 14:12 the context of which is Jesus and the disciples, he was not preaching to the masses here. Also, it is not “whoever believes” it is “He who believes” and in context of the passage, that applies to the disciples there who were apparently having trouble doing so. Jesus told the same disciples that they would do even greater works than Jesus did.

    I think that if we carefully read John 14-16 (the whole context of John’s specific recording of Jesus’ teaching about the Holy Spirit) we will see that Jesus is not talking to a few disciples, but to all those who will believe and follow Him. There are two articles we would love your interaction with that look more in depth at John 14 – article 1 by Marv and article 2 by myself.

    When do we find “mixed results”? How about like when we find Paul complaining of his ailments, Trophimus left at Miletus sick, and Paul exhorting Timothy to “stir up” his gift as if it was like a dead camp fire needing to be brought back to flames. We find them after Paul announced to the Corinthians that the Gifts would be indeed recalled and be replaced by the more excellent way. Only then do we start to find “mixed results”!

    I suppose you are referring to 1 Corinthians 13:8-12. Was that referring to the end of these gifts with the coming of a 66-book canon of Scripture? I think it is very, very evident that Paul is referring to the final eschaton when Jesus makes all things new at His coming. I address this more in this article.

    I know I left a few links for you to read some of our other articles, but both Marv and I spend much time looking at Scripture, theology, and even church history in regards to the continuing work of the Spirit. That has been going over for almost 2000 years now and the Spirit of the Lord Jesus keeps working in such powerful ways. Both the Scripture and the personal work of God in our lives testify to such.

    Looking forward to more interaction.

  5. Pingback: Three Articles Interacting with Michael Patton on Continuationism « The Prodigal Thought

  6. Pingback: Articles Interacting with Michael Patton on Continuationism & Cessationism « The Prodigal Thought

  7. I just re-read CMP’s third part. I am quite saddened of his use of the passages Exodus 4 and Jeremiah 23.

    A few things to remark:

    1) Many build so much of their theology about prophecy out of the OT. I am not saying we completely chuck out the OT, but we have got to centre our theology, as Christians, in the full revelation that comes in Christ and the NT. I wouldn’t build a theology about God mainly from the OT (as I would not come to a Triune conclusion) nor of salvation (as I might still be emphasising circumcision). I think the same must happen with things like prophecy and what a prophet is. We need to now centre our theology in Jesus and the new covenant and work from there with regards to prophecy, even reading the OT through our understanding of Jesus and the new covenant.

    2) I truly believe that we invest too much in this thought that a prophet MUST HAVE a sign to attest to their prophetic calling. As you said, Marv, prophecy itself can serve as a ‘sign’. And, though someone might say, ‘Well, has what the person prophesied taken place yet?, we forget that, at times, even some biblical prophecies took decades and centuries to come to fulfilment. Think about this guy named Jesus and what was prophesied about him. A little bit of a wait. Think about the promise of Isaac – 25 years. Think about the return of Christ – still waiting.

    And, not to mention, that we have biblical prophets who we are not even 100% sure were used with a ‘sign’, though many cessationists make it THE requirement. I’m thinking Nathan, Gad, Micaiah, Anna, Agabus, prophets in Antioch (Acts 13:1-4), prophets in Corinth, etc. Maybe they were, but maybe they weren’t. But they got on proclaiming the things God had spoken to them.

    I think so many presuppositions are read back into the Scripture (maybe thanks to Mr B.B. Warfield) rather than approaching the text without the extreme dogmatic boxes that allow no room for breathing. If only we would approach the ministry of the prophet and the gift of prophecy from the new covenant perspective in Christ. I think we would see major shifts not only for cessationists but also continuationists that try and live out this ministry and gift from an old covenant perspective.

  8. Ross,
    While I was away all weekend, seems like you had some good interaction with Scott. There’s a lot one could say about your response to me, but it really does boil down to what the Scriptures say.

    It seems your reference is to the 1 Cor 13 passage. You might have just stated that outright at the time. Certainly I know it is a passage that a cessationist MIGHT use. Frankly, I gave you more credit than that. Long before I became a continuatinist I understood that Paul was not teaching cessationism from that passage.

    I’m (sort of) glad to see you at least give a little bit different spin on it. I’m afraid what you say about face to face etc. really won’t wash. I did a little post on that passage, which I see Scott has referred you to, but I ran into something later that I was thinking of posting a short note on. Funny, I was thinking about this over the weekend before I saw your response.

    In fact, it is beyond conjecture (IMHO) that 1 Cor 13:12 is a strong allusion to Num. 12:8.

    “Seeing” here is in connection with prophecy vs. seeing the form of the Lord.

    Indications are the following:

    1 Cor 13:12 contrasts seeing “in a mirror dimly” with seeing “face to face.”

    Num. 12:8 contrasts “in riddles” with “face to face” (NIV) or “mouth to mouth.” (ESV)

    “Dimly” in the former is en ainigmati, “in an enigma.”

    “In riddles” in the latter is di’ aignigmaton, “through enigmas” in the LXX.

    The language is strikingly parallel. Anyway, I think it strongly suggests that “face to face” in 1 Cor. is definitely face to face with God.

  9. Pingback: Response to Patton’s “Why I’m Not Charismatic” (Part 4) « To Be Continued…

  10. Hey ScottL,

    I read the two articles and all I can find concerning the phrase “face to face” are naked assertions! My argument has substance because it is based on the context and does not violate the rules of grammar like your assertion does.

    Now I don’t have a problem calling “we” representative as long as “we” both understand that the context is none other than the members of the body and thus the “face to face” refers to the action between the members of the body. Interpreting according to the rules of grammar is not “creative” in my book, but ignoring the grammar and plugging in a subject not in the context to suit your imposed interpretation is creative! But you are creating a new text that is no longer truth. Same as in John where the discussion is between Jesus and His disciples in a closed context. No where else do we see the same statement broadened to a larger group with regard to the practice of gifts. Again, you mangle the grammar to suit your imposed interpretation. Jesus was speaking to a limited group and answering their direct concerns. There is no valid basis, let alone logical for taking such liberties with the text and for ignoring the context. If you are not going to listen to what the text says, why bother appealing to it at all?

    • Ross –

      One thing to consider is this practical reality: Can you think of anyone who would back up your interpretation? Anyone who might have a little more background in the languages, the history, Jewish thoughts, etc?

      Now, if you can’t find someone to back your interpretation, that does not necessarily prove you are incorrect or that I am correct. But don’t you think it would somewhat behoove one to find at least one scholar who is well-grounded in the Greek to support your proposition. With Greek, I’ll lean on my colleague here, Marv, who has 2 degrees in the languages. Again, this isn’t the proof, but at least something to ponder.

      But to the text:

      1) One emphasis of the passage is the partial knowledge, represented in such phrases as, ‘we know in part’, ‘we prophesy in part’, ‘the partial will pass away’, ‘for now we see in a mirror dimly’, ‘now I know in part’, and the references to childish speech/thought/reasoning. This is all imagery to speak of partial knowing.

      2) In contrast to this is the time in which we will move to full knowledge or fully knowing, represented in such phrases as, ‘when the perfect comes’, ‘when I became a man’, ‘then face to face’, ‘I shall know fully even as I am fully known’.

      Now, I suppose we are still in a time of partial knowledge. However one wants to interpret the concept of partial knowledge, we must still be there. Right? Even if your interpretation of face to face is correct – not showing partiality and rather treating each other equally – we are still not there, right?

      It’s just like in Ephesians 4:11-16 where Paul says Jesus gave some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. And Paul says that they were given to help the body be equipped….UNTIL we reach unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God. That word UNTIL denotes we are headed somewhere, but we are not quite there yet. Same with Paul’s imagery in 1 Cor 13. We are in a place of partial knowing, not yet fully face to face, but we are moving towards a place of perfect knowing. But we are not there just yet.

      If we are in this intermediate period of partial, awaiting the full knowledge, guess what is still available to the body of Christ? All His gifts. And again this links nicely with Eph 4:11-16, which teaches a very similar thing. Certain gifts were given UNTIL we reach that perfect unity. We aren’t there yet, so we need them to move towards that place as we await its final consummation.

      1 Cor 13 deals with perfect knowing; Eph 4 deals with perfect unity (and even Eph 4 speaks of attaining unity in our knowledge of the Son of God). Great parallel between the 2 passages.

      A quite important verse in 1 Cor 13 is vs12 – For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

      What do we see in a mirror dimly? The body of Christ and not treating them equally, as you suggest? Maybe. But does that actually fit the context? You would claim it does. I lean towards that not being supported in the actual text.

      Look at the second half of the verse. Again, we know in part, but we shall one day know fully. And here is that which ties up the loose end for us – even as I have been fully known.

      Fully known by the body of Christ or by Christ Himself? The word know, in a Jewish mindset, would have communicated the idea beyond head knowledge, also moving into personal, intimate knowledge. The whole direction of this context is seeing the body move out of partially knowing to fully knowing, even as we are fully known. Who are we fully known by? Who are we to one day fully know? This is Christ. And this comes with the eschaton when Christ makes all things new and perfect.

      I don’t negate the reality that we are to treat each other equally, though I suppose you don’t mean in the egalitarian sense. We are to be unified in Christ. But knowing fully as we are fully known already [by Christ] is the context of this passage. This is moving away from seeing in a mirror into full face to face, maybe kind of like Moses had conversations with God face to face. Even for a Hebrew, the word face and presence are synonymous, both being the word pâneh. Paul absolutely is communicating our coming into full knowledge of Christ when the perfect comes at the eschaton.

  11. Yes, Numbers 12:8 is interesting considering the language. That led me to what Paul had to say about Moses in 2 Corinthians 3:1 through 4:7. Paul states that the veil which blinds and obscures IS done away with in Christ. Thus we are experiencing the more excellent ministry that exceeds in glory NOW aren’t we? Even now we ARE changed into the same glorious image. The hidden things are renounced and the gospel is not hid but shines in us.

    So if we are to see the face of God, it is the glorious reflection of Jesus Christ we see in each others faces.

  12. Ross, I’m not sure what grammatical rules you think are being violated with “we shall see face to face.” This is pretty simple language. “We” in each case refers to human believers. Now we know in part, prophesy in part, we see in an unclear or distorted way, in a puzzle, a riddle. But one day we will experience face to face sight. That is pretty clearly what Paul is saying. He isn’t switching to the “we” now equalling us and God. However, even if he were that is no violation of grammar. That kind of thing happens all the time.

    There is simply no hint of the knowing as I am known and seeing face to face being anything other than eschatological, when the in part become the perfect in all these domains.

    And there is no hint that Paul is teaching them that the gifts he mentions are being SUPERSEDED by “a more excellent way.” This way is however more excellent than any pursuit, certainly the way they were going about it.

    I suppose your 2 Cor. suggestion is a bit creative as well, but it tries to have its cake and eat it too.

    All that, fairly clear business in 1 Cor. and now you’re trying to suggest that what Jesus instructed his diciples as recorded in John 14-16 was for the eleven alone… All of it then. If you love me do what I command you. Abide in Christ. What about Jesus telling the eleven to teach new disciples to observe everything he commanded them???

    Ross, okay, let’s say Jesus only meant that whole thing for the eleven. So for whom did JOHN write the chapters???

  13. ScottL

    You presume that the eschaton is implied in the passage somewhere, on what basis? The context rules that out altogether since it needs a period after gifts and before Christ’s return for the abiding of faith, hope, and love.

    asphaleia

    Well OK, it seems that you and I are on the same page with the grammar.

    Again you presume the eschatological, and I ask upon what basis? The text does not mention it so you… default to it? That appears to be a grasping at straws.

    I think we would agree that the “face to face” is a part of experiencing the full knowledge. So can we be in a state of full knowledge? Sure thing, particularly since we have Scripture and an environment in which it can be learned and practiced.

    Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. (1 Corinthians 12:1)
    But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12:31)

    How could Paul be any more clear that there is a more excellent way than the gifts, especially when he follows with a monologue on how they are going to disappear while faith, hope, and love remain?

    Again, are we to follow Jesus without qualification? Did he not give instruction to submit to whatever those in “Moses’ seat” told them to do? How are we going to do that? Are there some Israeli priests and rabbis whom we need to be submitting to? Are we to offer sacrifices at the temple, submit to the dietary laws, etc.? Of course not! They were Jews living according to covenant status with God and we are today Gentiles living by grace. Paul teaches us that the national covenant status of Israel has been shelved and now Israel is scattered anyway. I believe the Kingdom offer via covenant relationship was offered to Israel and rejected. Paul reveals God is now dealing according to grace now and not covenant. I believe Israel will be restored in the end but for now, all approach God on the grounds of grace.

    In light of those facts, I am foolish to try and approach God via trying to achieve covenant status. All that to say that now that I am identified with Christ, I don’t have to jump through Jewish hoops to be acceptable to God, I just need to rest in Christ.

    And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 20:30-31)

    You see, John recorded them not as a check list of items to mimic, but rather to serve as a testimony to be believed!

  14. Ross –

    You presume that the eschaton is implied in the passage somewhere, on what basis? The context rules that out altogether since it needs a period after gifts and before Christ’s return for the abiding of faith, hope, and love.

    1) Let’s just assume that ‘the perfect’ is not the eschaton. Paul never had that in mind. Are you still convinced the perfect, from your interpretation, has come? Have we reached that goal just yet? If not, guess what gets to stay around.

    2) You’re specific interpretation of ‘the perfect’ still falls well short of the teaching context of Paul. Even if the interpretation I’ve put forth, which is accepted by tons of Bible scholars (even many cessationists today), were wrong, you’ve still got a lot of hard work to support your interpretation of ‘the perfect’ and ‘face to face’.

    3) Interesting how prophecies, tongues, words of knowledge, healings, miracles and the rest have continued to happen for 2000 years. That’s odd they would continue though we are theologically told they would end some 1800-1900 years ago. But I guess you would cut that off by saying, ‘Oh, you only think you are prophesying and seeing miracles. They really aren’t there.’

    4) The last part of vs 12 states – Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. WHO already fully knows us? Do you think it might just be talking about knowing that person fully? Just maybe?

    5) You have got to work a little harder in showing that vs13 proves that there is this period where the gifts will cease while at the same time those 3 things of faith, hope and love will continue. Again, let’s even say your interpretation of ‘the perfect’ is correct. Have we reached there? I’m glad if we have and don’t need these gifts. But I’m still wondering if we have reached it even from your interpretation. In vs13, Paul says that the three – faith, hope and love – remain. He was speaking right then and there that the 3 were remaining. I don’t have my Greek tools here in front of me at the moment, but let’s go with the NIV translation of the word as remain. This word denotes that such is continuing on right then and there, almost in a sense of assuring us that those 3 will remain while something else ceases, which you say are the gifts of the Spirit. But if there is such a period when the gifts will cease but these 3 will continue on, why would Paul be teaching that they were REMAINING right then and there to the Corinthians? Again, the word remain denotes that probably some were needing some reassurance that these were staying. But if those 3 were to stay even after the gifts were gone, wouldn’t it have been better for Paul (or someone else) to tell us later on (maybe AD 100) that these 3 were still remaining (though the gifts had gone)? Not to mention that we would also need some others to help us remember which gifts have gone and which gifts get to REMAIN along with the faith, hope and love.

    It’s all getting a little too hairy here.

  15. Ross,
    You say: The context rules that out altogether since it needs a period after gifts and before Christ’s return for the abiding of faith, hope, and love.

    and

    Again you presume the eschatological, and I ask upon what basis? The text does not mention it so you… default to it? That appears to be a grasping at straws.

    Interesting you mention “grasping at straws.” I’m afraid I don’t see it that way at all, whereas I was considering using the very same phrase regarding your treatment of these texts. Some people construct a “straw man” of their opponents’ viewpoint in order to more easily refute it. As I see it, Cessationism is one viewpoint that uses a straw man to defend itself.

    I also like your use of “presume” as if we are bringing in preconceived notions rather than looking at the evidence. Recall, that at least I was a Cessationist before examination of the texts persuaded me of the “strawy” nature of their Scriptural arguments. They just blew away in the wind like so much chaff.

    Be that as it may, I find it a strange comment that the eschaton is foreign to the text, and even stranger that it is excluded. As far as this latter suggestion, no, nothing here refers to an intermediate period between these gifts and the eschaton, when faith, hope, and love remain. This word “remain” is not telling us what is “left over” after some cessation of gifts. Love does certainly, eternally. The text tells us this. But, as I see it, faith and hope are pre-sight qualities. That is while we do not yet see the fulfillment of promises, we still consider the One who promised faithful to fulfill them. Hence, these too are consistent with the “in part” nature of our current existence.

    Thus Paul is saying that the exercise of God’s power (through the gifts, for example) is made possible through faith and hope, and to be exercised in love, or else they are just worthless, vain efforts.

    He is orienting them to the centrality of God’s nature behind His works, not telling them that Jesus’ own teaching regarding how He would be with them in power until the end of the age was actually coming to a halt within the first generation of the Church.

    I agree also with Scott that it is difficult to read “then” being when we “see face to face” and “know fully, as I am known” as anything other than the time when prophecies are completely superseded by the events foretold, and when we no longer have questions, because we have had them all answered, fully knowing. In short, if Paul is not speaking of an eschatological situation, he is engaging in some extraordinary hyperbole.

    I must concede, however, that he does not specify “at the Lord’s return” or “in that day” (though “then” is close), or other super-iron-clad terminology.

    So it is that we know “know in part.” Indeed we even know in part based on our reading of the Scriptures. The Scriptures are inspired, inerrant. Yet our reading, our interpretation of them is subject to differences from one person to another. Therefore in any disagreement over them, at least one party is wrong. Perhaps both are.

    As you mention, you believe the Scriptures indicate certain gifts have ceased. CMP doesn’t see that in the Scriptures, but is still led to Cessationism by other factors. Scott and I believe that the Scriptures nowhere teach Cessationism. All of us from reading the same Bible.

    So as important, vital, as the Scriptures are, God having inspired them, God illuminating our interpretation, our use of them is limited by our own finitude, our own limitations. In short, what we live with constantly, in the Church of Jesus Christ, even with our use of the Scriptures is “mixed results.”

    And that brings us to where we began.

  16. Ross –

    In your comment to Marv, you said:

    So can we be in a state of full knowledge? Sure thing, particularly since we have Scripture and an environment in which it can be learned and practiced.

    Are you sure that the Scripture and growth within the body provides this ‘perfect state’ now? I value both of those things, I value them highly. But interesting that I (and I suppose you and everyone else) keep finding ourselves saying, ‘Wow, I’m learning more, I’m growing more.’ And this happens continually. So I think it safe to conclude that we haven’t reached that perfect state yet. We taste of the new creation, Christ is making all things new. But all things are not fully new yet, are they? And it is a bit presumptuous to think that Scripture tells us all knowledge about God. Oh it is sufficient to the point of knowing Christ, His kingdom and His salvation. But it does not give us complete/perfect knowledge, does it?

    You then quote these 2 verses:

    Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. (1 Corinthians 12:1)
    But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12:31)

    1 Cor 12:31 is not written to pit love against the gifts. Rather it leads into ch. 13, which tells us how to use the gifts properly. The great motivation is love. They work in tandem together and should not be put against each other. That is why, after ch. 13, Paul goes on to say in 14:1 – Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. Ch. 12 tells us about the gifts and the body; ch. 13 tells us about the motivation behind the gifts which is love; ch. 14 tells us how specifically the gifts of prophecy, tongues and interpretation work in the local gathering.

    I’m not sure why you gave us a dispensational breakdown of God’s plan for Israel and the Gentiles? Maybe Marv can help with that, as I don’t lean towards a dispensational view.

    You finally end by quoting John 20:30-31. Yes, John tells us why he recorded the miracles of Jesus – to help us believe, though interestingly enough Jesus says that the ones who do not see and believe are blessed. But, this does not negate what Jesus taught in John 14-16. John tells us near the end of his gospel why he recorded the specific acts of Jesus. But John 14-16 is a lot of Jesus’ teaching about the work of the Spirit that would accompany His followers. That includes us. We get to join in with what Jesus taught. That’s awesome!

  17. Ross,
    Reading Scott’s comments now, I went back and re-read your last one.

    Yeah, I am perfectly mistified by your whole “jumping through Jewish hoops” section. Does not seem to relate to our discussion. Hmm?

    And you say: And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 20:30-31)

    You see, John recorded them not as a check list of items to mimic, but rather to serve as a testimony to be believed!

    Um, Ross, it is both a testimony to be believed and, yes, a pattern in a way for what believers would do in his name. Jesus speaks to this exact point quite clearly:

    “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
    Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:11-12)

    The very concept that you mention, believing because of Jesus’ works, are the lead in to Jesus’ teaching about the works His disciples would do in His name, because the Holy Spirit was to come and remain with them in this age.

  18. To clarify your position:

    1. You admit that the faith and hope are fully realized at the return of Christ, correct?

    Then it would be true to say that if I am correct when I recognize the plain statements of Paul requiring a period after gifts and before the return of Christ, such is not just hairy, but fatal to the continuationist argument.

    2.Concerning what Paul says in this 1 Corinthian passage, you also “…concede, however, that he does not specify “at the Lord’s return” or “in that day” …

    In other words, the eschaton interpretation here is purely arbitrary in the absence of any perceived viable exegesis as to what it might be.

    Thank you. This is the point I was waiting for you to admit! If it is not specified, then it is imposed and you have not even a wisp of a reason to do so. Thanks for being candid.

    Let me clarify my position (and yes I know I have to present it as of yet), ALL the gifts listed in 1 Cor, Rom 12, and Eph 4 were gone by the end of Paul’s ministry. God established the body through Paul’s ministry. That is, the new man (the corporate body of Christ) became a perfect man. The parallel in Eph 4 clarifies 1 Cor. That means the “perfect” has categorically come.

    I don’t pick and choose arbitrarily which gifts stay and which don’t, I see it as all or nothing.

    I would absolutely agree that we have not reached a perfect state in the sense of flawlessness but we most certainly have been provided with a more excellent way that is mature. So let us be careful to not continuously be confused by the English word “perfect” which includes an area of domain (flawlessness) which the Greek word teleios lacks!

    Paul discusses the fullness that is in Christ and says that we are complete in Christ.

    Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:15-19)

    If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; 24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: 25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; 26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which works in me mightily. (Colossians 1:23-29)

    That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; 3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. 5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. 6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: 7 Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. 8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9 For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: (Colossians 2:2-10)

    Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwells in us, and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:11-12)

    I believe Scripture when it says we can be perfect and comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge (that qualifies as full knowledge), that we might be filled with all the fullness of God; and that we can access all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; and that we are complete in Christ; and that love can be perfected in us…and yet you believe this is all unobtainable.

    Jewish hoops refers to those things Jesus instructed His disciples to do which are impossible for us to do since we can not nor should we obey those who sit in Moses’ seat. That reflects on John 14 which is restricted to Jesus’ disciples whom He was then training and not anyone else. It was teaching in response to their questions and instructions were given to them that was not shared with anyone else. Again John does NOT tell us it is recorded for our mimicry, it is recorded so that we might believe. Jesus was speaking to them only when He said…those of you who believe in me will also do the works that I do. As the dispensationalists say, “that is not our mail.” Now if you don’t agree, then you better get busy building that ark before it begins raining and make sure to observe those dietary laws Moses prescribed!

  19. Ross, your points:

    1. Well, I think it is a reasonable inference that faith and hope become sort of obsolete in the full realization of the eschaton, yes.

    Does the text then posit a post-gift pre-parousia period. Not at all. I really can’t see where you are getting this. NOW we live in hope of Christ’s return, by faith in Him, in communion with the Father and the Son through the Spirit. We do this in love, which is of the essence to the whole thing. But His power to be witnesses continues just as He has desired, and there is nothing to indicate, certainly not 1 Cor 13, that He is withdrawing the arrangement He announced in the upper room and initiated at Pentecost.

    2. No, I “admitted,” observed really, the level of specificity that is present in the text. It is clear it does not say explicitly “This is in reference to the eschaton.” Texts rarely do such a thing.

    You didn’t need to wait for me to “admit” anything. This is in no way equivalent to your characterization: “purely arbitrary in the absence of any perceived viable exegesis.” My goodness, let’s try to remain reasonable.

    The point is that the text is just as explicit as it is, not more, nor less. It therefore does present an interpretive issue. Otherwise, we would not be discussing it.

    Yet, it is a perfectly viable exegesis to understand Paul to be referring to the eschaton. I think it is the MOST probable understanding. I think you will find that it is a widespread understanding among interpreters. In exegesis we do not deal in proof, per se, but it is a very highly validated exegetical understanding. Seriously, to deny this is to admit incompetence in ability to interpret texts.

    (3) Okay, so you are a no-gifts Cessationist. Well, there is a certain consistency there, I do admit. I think it is clearly a wrong position, because it is not taught in the Bible. I think you are correct in stating that teleios often has the sense of “mature.” It also is used in the sense “complete.” These are both present in 1 Cor. 13. I think you are wrong in stating it LACKS the sense “flawless.” It is difficult to back up a negative assertion. I’m not quite sure how you can support yours. But anyway, it is not particularly the sense of “flawless” that is in view in 1 Cor 13. It is now vs. then, part vs. whole, and faith vs. sight. He specifically talks about prophecies, and predictive prophecies are by their nature partial knowledge about things to come. As such a prophecy ceases to be such when that which is prophesied happens. The main mass of such prophecies is in regard to the eschaton. At any rate, until the return of Christ we will continue to have unfulfilled (incomplete) prophecies.

    I have heard the suggestion that we are now in some kind of “mature” state. I don’t really think there is much Biblical support for such a notion, and it certain would not be inferred inductively from observation of any church situation I am aware of. The Church may be described by many terms–mature is not one that readily comes to mind in my opinion.

    Your cited passages do not demonstate it. They do indicate a purpose or goal of instruction, maybe, maybe, for sake of argument, certain individuals might me so described in the now. But not the body as a whole. And not those things which Paul describes as “in part.” Those verses simply do not speak to that issue.

    (4) If I were you I’d drop that last bit starting with the Jewish hoops thing. Of course, you won’t. Trying to restrict the URD to the eleven is… well, as one exegete put it: “purely arbitrary in the absence of any perceived viable exegesis.”

  20. And I’m thankful that Acts 2:16-17 reminds us what will take place during the last days, the whole Messianic age in which the reigning Messiah would pour out His Spirit on His people. It says that, during this whole period between first and second advents, God’s people would be used in prophecy, visions and dreams.

    And why would God give us His Spirit if He wouldn’t also give the gifts that come with the gift of His Spirit? Would God give us the same Spirit who empowered His Son and His first followers (more than the 12) but not expect us to walk in the same life and works?

    And why such an emphasis on Paul and that things ended with Paul? Most feel John lived after Paul. I think John prophesied and saw visions.

  21. asphaleia,
    You wrote:

    “Well, I think it is a reasonable inference that faith and hope become sort of obsolete in the full realization of the eschaton, yes.
    Does the text then posit a post-gift pre-parousia period. Not at all. … NOW we live in hope of Christ’s return, by faith in Him, in communion with the Father and the Son through the Spirit. We do this in love, which is of the essence to the whole thing.”

    Agreed. But it does set a boundary line.

    You wrote:
    “But His power to be witnesses continues just as He has desired, and there is nothing to indicate, certainly not 1 Cor 13, that He is withdrawing the arrangement He announced in the upper room and initiated at Pentecost.”

    Fail, cease, vanish certainly not only indicates but is explicit. This is the other boundary line. We are left with the remaining of faith, hope, and love in between these two boundaries which then posits a post-gift pre-parousia period.

    You wrote:
    “… It is clear it does not say explicitly “This is in reference to the eschaton.” …”

    This admission does not allow for superimposing the two boundary lines nor identifying them as the same line.

    You wrote:
    “Yet, it is a perfectly viable exegesis to understand Paul to be referring to the eschaton. I think it is the MOST probable understanding.”

    How is it viable given the two boundaries which are separate according to the text. Viable upon what basis? Most probable based on what? It does not appear viable at all from the text.

    You wrote:
    “… I think you are correct in stating that teleios often has the sense of “mature.” It also is used in the sense “complete.” These are both present in 1 Cor. 13. I think you are wrong in stating it LACKS the sense “flawless.” It is difficult to back up a negative assertion. I’m not quite sure how you can support yours.”

    In other passages it can approach the idea of flawless but I don’t think any exegete has allowed for it in 1 Cor here. In any case, the rendering into English of “perfect” is most unfortunate and injurious for those who do not or can not study the Greek to see how the original is used. Its use in 1 Cor. here has derailed a clear comprehension of this passage in my opinion. What is clear is that it is a state that stands in contrast to immaturity and this can not be lost sight of in order to understand it correctly. The parallel passage in Eph makes explicit what the mature is referring to here. It is the perfect man, i.e., the body of Christ in a later stage: later than the new man stage or infant/immature stage.

    You wrote:
    “But anyway, it is not particularly the sense of “flawless” that is in view in 1 Cor 13. It is now vs. then, part vs. whole, …”

    Agreed on this much.

    When ScottL wrote:
    “Are you sure that the Scripture and growth within the body provides this ‘perfect state’ now? I value both of those things, I value them highly. But interesting that I (and I suppose you and everyone else) keep finding ourselves saying, ‘Wow, I’m learning more, I’m growing more.’ And this happens continually. So I think it safe to conclude that we haven’t reached that perfect state yet. We taste of the new creation, Christ is making all things new. But all things are not fully new yet, are they? And it is a bit presumptuous to think that Scripture tells us all knowledge about God. Oh it is sufficient to the point of knowing Christ, His kingdom and His salvation. But it does not give us complete/perfect knowledge, does it?”

    I took him for using perfect in the flawless/infallible sense.

    You wrote:
    “I have heard the suggestion that we are now in some kind of “mature” state. I don’t really think there is much Biblical support for such a notion, and it certain would not be inferred inductively from observation of any church situation I am aware of. The Church may be described by many terms–mature is not one that readily comes to mind in my opinion.”

    Eph 4 should leave no doubt. The mature state is not dependent upon the church any more than our salvation is. The body was created by God and brought to the mature state by God. The provision has been made and it is not God’s fault if the body does not avail themselves of it. One might say it is the more excellent gift that replaces all the other gifts.

    You wrote:
    “Your cited passages do not demonstate it. They do indicate a purpose or goal of instruction, maybe, maybe, for sake of argument, certain individuals might me so described in the now. But not the body as a whole. And not those things which Paul describes as “in part.” Those verses simply do not speak to that issue.”

    But they do show that a state of perfection can be achieved in the present, before the return of Christ. Thus the possibility also exists for the corporate body. Eph 4 does speak to the issue and is explicit.

    You wrote:
    “If I were you I’d drop that last bit starting with the Jewish hoops thing.”

    Seriously, I am interested in how you see the body of Christ being able to follow Christ’s instruction to obey those who sit in Moses’ seat!

  22. Acts 2 says His spirit would be poured out…and it was. There is no period specified, just a single act.

    John was not the apostle to the Gentiles, besides I don’t think John lived after Paul. It is irrelative either way since we are dealing with Paul’s commission and God’s purpose in his ministry. One purpose of which was to join Jew and Gentile together in one body on the ground of God’s grace. A union that Paul designates as the mature status of the body when accomplished. Accomplished through those exercising the gifts and when accomplished, shedding the gifts for a more excellent way.

    There is a progression in revelation with Paul that was unknown before referred to as the mystery. If one does not catch the significance of the effect of the revelation of this mystery, one will be utterly confused when trying to reconcile the difference between God’s covenant relationship with Israel and God’s grace towards the body of Christ. If one skips such reconciliation, one ends up with a mass of nonsensical chaos in their theology trying to have it both ways.

  23. Ross,
    I don’t know where you get these two supposed “boundary lines.” The text sets up a two-way contrast, which is referred to by a few parameters:
    now/then, in part/”perfect” i.e. complete. The specific gifts he cites are said to “cease” in the future, yes, but that is when they become superfluous due to their partial nature, since the completeness of what they were pointing to has arrived.

    A mundane example is a really cool movie trailer. You may enjoy seeing it and be looking forward in eager expectation (a la faith and hope) to seeing the movie. When the movie comes out, the trailer is no less cool, but has kind of played out its role. And the eager anticipation is superseded, not because there was ever anything wrong with eager anticipation, but because there is now direct enjoyment of the complete film.

    In 1 Cor 13 the things that are mentioned as being incomplete, partial are knowledge and prophecy.

    Knowledge is partial because there is so much we don’t know. We cannot see the future, and the past has passed away. We have questions, and the answers are not available.

    Prophecy is partial because while it gives information, that information is at best spotty and incomplete. It is received by faith and in hope. Prophecy feeds faith and hope, gives promises from God that can be held onto through confidence in the One doing the promising, all this while none of what is promised is visible or accessible, apart from some tokens that He graciously provides.

    Paul is talking about when these situations of partialness are superseded by completion. The only time when all our questions are answered, knowledge is full, and sight, actual enjoyment of what was eagerly anticipated happens is when Christ returns.

    The notion of maturity of the church is something that can be debated, I suppose. You may think the “mature man” of Eph. 4 is now a fait accompli. I don’t, but that’s beside the point. That’s not the issue the text of 1 Cor. 13 is talking about. It isn’t “Is the Church mature now?”; it’s “Has all prophecy given way to the thing prophesied?” No. And “Have all questions been answered?” Again, no.

    If you really think you can posit a time in history ( and that Paul means to express this in the chapter) when prophecy has given way to fulfillment, and unknowing to knowing, anytime prior to the Lord’s return, go for it.

    I just don’t think you can, or anyone can, because it isn’t in the text to be drawn out of it.

    These posts are meant to present a viewpoint, an interpretation, an understanding, and yes to a certain point to persuade. However, I don’t insist on persuading you or anyone else. It’s been said “I prefer clarity to agreement.” You’ve expressed your pov pretty clearly now, and Scott and I have, as always, endeavored to present our points of view as clearly as we may.

    —–

    You say: “I don’t think John lived after Paul.” I guess there’s something behind that statement. You would recognize it, I trust, as a minority opinion.

  24. Ross –

    Acts 2 says His spirit would be poured out…and it was. There is no period specified, just a single act.

    Yep, there is a period specified – ‘in the last days’. The last days are the whole period between first and second advent-coming of Christ. That is right now and has been for approx. 1980 years and will continue until He comes to marry His one bride. I share more in this article on when the last days are.

    And Peter, quoting Joel, reminds us the fruit of the Spirit being poured out in the period of the last days – prophecy, dreams, visions.

    Again, this is happening because Scripture tells us it will and is. And there is plenty of proof of this happening each and every day. It’s fantastic that God would do such in His body and His world.

  25. asphaleia,

    By definition, a contrast produces a demarcation or boundary. That is exactly what I do when I produce a radiograph to rule out a bone fracture. I use a technique that results in a high contrast to differentiate bone tissue from other tissue.

    I don’t think the gift of prophecy employed by the Corinthians was eschatological, nor was the gift of knowledge about being omniscient, it was practical so that it would edify them there and then. Thus it is not about ending ALL prophecy and the attaining of ALL knowledge. It was about establishing the body. The body was established and the gifts made obsolete. It is long past time to put away the childish things and grow up.

    Scottl

    “IN” not “spread out over the entire period of.”
    When I paid my bills in June, I did it once and it took me a few minutes at most. It does not take me every moment of 30 days to make payment, I do it once and it is good for the whole month.

    I have heard plenty of claims for the practice but unfortunately, I have not seen nor heard of any of the hospitals or clinics that my colleagues or I work at being cleared out by a healer, nor have I seen any other gifts practiced.

    I have heard demon possessed persons, practitioners of witchcraft and voodoo babel and prophesy with mixed results, as well as, practice psychic phenomena. Now I have also seen Christians do it too but with no real results. So does telling anecdotes prove anything? So from my experience, there is some power in the devil’s gifts and none in God’s, if He is indeed gifting edification gifts. Well if Christians are getting mixed results somewhere on the planet, praise God, but it seems to me they could get far more excellent results by employing a more excellent way and perhaps bring some glory to God then and further His agenda. That is the only thing I can give witness to from personal experience. That is, those I know who claim the gifts producing no results versus those employing a more excellent way getting good results at edification.

    My subjective interpretation of phenomena versus your interpretation of phenomena makes for interesting stories but does not advance a discussion.

  26. Ross –

    Again, read Acts 2:17-18. Peter makes clear they entered the last days right then and there. And the last days are the days when the Messiah would reign (He has authority over all heaven and earth) and would give His Spirit to His people.

    I have heard plenty of claims for the practice but unfortunately, I have not seen nor heard of any of the hospitals or clinics that my colleagues or I work at being cleared out by a healer, nor have I seen any other gifts practiced.

    Goodness, even the first Christians weren’t able to live up to your standard.

  27. Ross,
    See, that’s why the tech shouldn’t try to read the film. Apparently, some kind of artifact has led you to see a boundary when there is none.

    Reminds me of back in the day, when I x-rayed a probation officer who forgot that he was carrying handcuffs in his briefs. Just as I ended up with “darbies” superimposed on the genuine anatomy, somehow you’ve introduced a dispensational distinctive where it doesn’t belong. Positing a dispensational change between Pentecost and Parousia is actually ultradispensational, which is not dispensationalism. Maybe that’s what you profess. How are you with baptism and communion?

    There’s some confusion in your second paragraph. I didn’t say prophecy was eschatological or that knowledge was about omniscience. I said that what Paul is saying in 1 Cor 13 is that the eschaton will bring completeness where each of those is partial. That hasn’t happened yet. I got grief from my buds for comparing types of cessationism to preterism. So I won’t repeat that here. Still, as the saying goes, don’t immanentize the eschaton.

    Not having access to your psyche, I can’t really sort out the chicken and egg thing, but when I pick up the affective vibes, as in your remark “it’s long past time to put away the childish things and grow up,” that always smacks of “purpose-driven exegesis.”

    Well, I’m sure you don’t think so. My little comments will not convince you of anything, certainly. And I don’t find your approach remotely persuasive either. Such is life.

  28. ScottL,

    No doubt there was a powerful beginning of something there in Acts 2, but what happened to that Jewish commune? It faded away! So what began was not finished and carried through. Paul explains the “mystery” behind this temporary setting aside of Israel to make way for grace being offered to the Gentiles.

    The first Christians did not know any skeptics and I am talking about among the unbelievers…no one could deny that miracles and MIGHTY signs were happening! Unlike today, not only are the unbelievers skeptics but so are the most conservative hardcore believers skeptical of claims to gifts. It is not believers that I am holding up to a high standard, it is a matter of whether God is faithful to His own standard or not. I am not telling God what He has to do, I just don’t believe God is behind a shmuck job done in his name. I am sorry for expecting a quality work of God.

    These are still the last days but it will not be until the Lord returns that Messiah will reign in His kingdom. You do not see any of the kingdoms of this world made His yet. This world system must be brought to an end before we are come in the kingdom.

    asphaleia,

    If the tech does not produce a quality image, the doc is not going to be able to diagnose the problem!

    I used to be mid-Acts but I have moved beyond dispensationalism in a few ways unto a hermeneutic that consistently applies the principle of progressive revelation. Don’t confuse that with “progressive dispensationalism” which has recognized some of the same problems with dispensationalism and have looked for a solution by trying to hybrid with covenant theology in a failed experiment. I believe in a dry baptism into Christ by the HS as the one baptism Paul refers to in Eph. The ritual supper is dismissed by the Acts 28 ultra-disps because they see it as belonging to a past dispensation or else they would practice it too. I see it as a pagan insertion
    justified by a misinterpretation of Paul. The only communion I recognize is genuine fellowship apart from rituals, ordinances, and “services” which is just so much flotsam and jetsam of the institutional church.

    When I said, ““it’s long past time to put away the childish things and grow up,” I was merely quoting Paul and exhorting to follow his admonition.

    Is “purpose-driven exegesis” supposed to be a reference to the “purpose-driven movement”? Otherwise, I don’t have any sacred cows to protect, no position, organizations, confessions, personalities (other than our Lord) or any other band-wagon to peddle, promote, or preserve. I have not nor do I intend to quit my job to make a living from religion nor am I supporting any “camps.” I have nothing to lose! The only thing I am trying to gain is a better understanding of God, our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus, and the HS in order to serve God in whatever capacity He allows. So there is my psyche for what it is worth.

  29. Pingback: Response to Patton’s “Why I’m Not Charismatic” (Part 6) « To Be Continued…

  30. Pingback: Response to Patton’s ‘Why I’m Not Charismatic’ « New Epistles

  31. Pingback: Final Response to Patton’s “Why I’m Not Charismatic” (Part 8) « To Be Continued…

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