The Staunch Calvinist

"Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God." - Jonathan Edwards

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Review of Sam Waldron's To Be Continued?

...o; and “extraordinary”, or “non-miraculous” and “miraculous.” I have not been able to find this distinction yet in the text of Scripture. 

2. Prophets

He demonstrates from the OT that a prophet was simply the mouth of God to the people (Ex 4:10-17; 7:1-2).  Also, what the prophets said had to be 100% accurate according to the regulations of Deuteronomy 13:1-5 and 18:15-22. Therefore he proceeds to the New Testament with the same definition of prophecy and this is understandable.

He first considers few passages used in support of Continuationism including Ephesians 4:11-13; 1 Cor 13:8-13 and the case of Agabus (Acts 21:10-11).

On Ephesians 4 he says that if we maintain that everything in verse 11 is needed for our maturity and unity in the faith then we are proving too much. If we follow that, then we must also say that the apostolate must continue, but we have proven that it in fact did not continue. Therefore, he says that the apostles must refer to the writings and teaching of the apostles that we have in the New Testament and prophets or prophecy refers to the book of Revelation. He does not dispute if we have prophecy (i.e. the book of Revelation), rather if we have ongoing or new prophecy.

I don't think that the putting of Revelation under the category of "prophets" is right. John was not writing as a prophet, but was writing with the authority of an Apostle, that is the case for every NT book. It was either written by an apostle or an associate. I know of no NT book whose author was an prophet. 

Therefore, I do indeed agree that we have the Apostles in their writings, but I know of nothing that we have from prophets, therefore, it would seem that they would be necessary for the building up and achieving the unity of faith. (I don't know how this practically looks, but I just want to understand what the passage is teaching)

On 1Cor 13:8-13 contrary to some cessationist Dr. Waldron does not believe that the verse is speaking about the closing of the canon, rather it refers to the state after the coming of Christ when we will have "face to face" knowledge of God. But he says that the passage does not specify the time of the cessation of prophecy and tongues. So this question is undecided by this verse. On page 64 he says "The conclusion must be that Paul is teaching the doing away of partial knowledge in favor of perfect knowledge in verse ten. He says nothing about when the gifts of prophecy and tongues pass away. He only refers to the passing of the present partial knowledge that was conveyed through those gifts. He leaves open the question of the time of the passing of the gifts of prophecy and tongues."

He tries to interact with Grudem on Agabus, but I don't believe that he sufficiently refuted Grudem. Basically, Grudem with the words of Richard Gaffin was accused of requiring "pedantic precision" on Agabus (p. 67). I've read Gaffin's and Waldron's case against Grudem on Agabus, but I don't believe that they've refuted what Grudem has argued for.

Since according to Dr. Waldron's survey of the OT prophecy is simply the forthtelling of what God has put into the prophet's mouth and this principle he says also in the par excellence the Lord Jesus, therefore, prophecy cannot at the present time exist. The canon is closed and even continuationists admit that their prophecies are not infallible. 

3. Tongues

His discussion on tongues was interesting and short. Like other cessationists, he argued tha...


Review of Walter J. Chantry's Signs Of the Apostles

Signs of the Apostles

Observations On Pentecostalism Old And New[1]

My feelings are mixed concerning this small volume. I believe that his case for cessationism did not stand. I believe that he misused some passages to make his case. Here are a few things that raised my eyebrows.

First, he argues that miracles were given for attestation from the narrative of Moses (Ex 4:5) and NT. No one disagrees, but he makes attestation the primary purpose of miracles. And not simple attestation, rather attestation for prophetic ministry. Miracles were connected with the prophets as he tries to argue from Ex 4:5 and Deut 34:10-11 (later from Elijah's example in 1Kings 18:36). But then he raises the anticipated objection about the miracles of Samson or the other prophets, his answer is not satisfying. He basically says that the "history is incomplete" (p. 11), i.e. we do not have everything that they did, therefore, they must have done some prophetic stuff as leaders of God's people. That is unsatisfactory.

Second, he uses Psalm 74:9 to say that "This is a striking endorsement of the principle that only prophets work miracles. Where miracles are performed we should expect to hear the inspired Word of God spoken. When there is no prophet, there are no signs." (p. 12)

Here pastor Chantry understands the signs to refer to the miracles of the prophets. But I believe what is a more proper sense of the verse is to speak of the Temple. The enemies of Israel as they are described in verse 4 "have roared in the midst of your [God's] meeting place; they set up their own signs for signs." The enemies of Israel have set up their own things in the Temple of God as signs. But now destitute of the Temple (in the time of the exile), the Israelites do not have their signs, i.e. the ark, the sacrifices, the temple which pictured to the people the presence of God among them.

Whatever the sense of the text, this does not have bearing upon the miracles when we come to the NT as on Pentecost when they were to be poured out on all people (Acts 2:17ff).

Third, he uses Galatians 3:5 to say "Paul appealed to his miracle-working power as evidence that he, rather than the Judaizers, ought to be believed." (p. 15) Where does Paul fit into the text? The text reads "Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— ". Can it be that this is based upon the assumption that only the apostles can work miracles while the verse doesn't say a word about such a thing?

Fourth, he limits the scope of Hebrews 2:3-4 to the apostles though he does not explicitly say that (pp. 15-16). But the text does not reject the present work of God among the Hebrews, it simply highlights God's work among the Apostles.

Fifth, he anticipates the objection of non-apostles doing miracles and he raises the case of Philip in Acts 8:4-15. Then there's some weird comment about the people to whom Philip had preached that "[c]ertainly the true converts among them already had God's Spirit in their hearts, for [citation of Rom 8:9]" (p. 17). This was a first time for me, usually people explain it in terms of the foundational period of Acts and the primacy of Apostles that the believers did not receive the Spirit.

He accepts that Philip did actually perform miraculous deeds as the Bible obviously says (Acts 8:6-7), but then objects that it was the Apostles and not Philip who had the prerogative of ministering the mira...


Review of Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology

...e prosperity heretics do. But that it is the sovereign and free will of God which grants healing.

I found it strange that Dr. Grudem believes that tongues can in fact be a nonexistent language, but in the words of John MacArthur “gibberish.” I have not studied this very deeply, but I cannot say that I agree. Dr Grudem argues that just because in Acts 2 tongues were actual languages, does not mean that that will always be the case because he believes that 1 Corinthians14 supports the idea of tongues not actually being a language sometimes.

I cannot say that now I'm fully a continuationist, but I can say that I see now more support for Continuationism and weakness for cessationism.

The Doctrine of the Future

Part 7 of this Systematic Theology deals with the study of the last things, Eschatology.

Dr Grudem shows convincingly for me the support for the coming of Christ, the Final Judgment and Hell, the New Heavens and New Earth. With all these I agreed on most points, except the Millennium.

Dr. Grudem is a Classic Premillennial. He fairly represents the four major views today:

  1. Amillennialism
  2. Postmillennialism
  3. Classic Premillennialism
  4. Dispensational Premillennialsm

While he represents these views he argues against them and for Classic Premillennalism.

I remain an Amillennial.

Conclusion

If you don't have this book in your library, get it now! You will not be disappointed. I will go back to it.

I'm thankful for God's grace upon Dr Grudem's work and life and that he has produced such an excellent treatment of Christian doctrine faithful to the Holy Scriptures.

He has become an example for me and a hero of how I should handle the Holy Scriptures.

Footnotes

  1. ^ RC rightly says that everyone's a theologian ;)
  2. ^ Page 315.
  3. ^ Page 1050.
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