Are Tongues for Today? Part 3

Originally published as a single article: “Tongues—Are They for Today?,” DBSJ 14 (2009). Read Part 1 and Part 2.

The argument from the purpose of tongues as attesting new revelation

The purpose of miraculous capacities in the early church was not limited to the attestation of divine messengers, but also included the attestation of their revelatory message (Heb 2:4). This is not to suggest that miracles were never expressions of divine compassion or that tongues never had a didactic function (see, e.g., Acts 2:5–12), but, as Saucy notes, “the primary purpose of the miracles was as signs of authentication pointing to God, his messengers or spokesmen, and their message, which was the word of God.”1 This seems to be the reason that the term “sign” (σημεῖον) is regularly used to denote tongues. A sign, by definition, is an “indication or confirmation of intervention by transcendent powers.”2 Attention here is on the subordination of the sign to that which it signifies—viz., that God is breaking into the natural order to disclose himself in some way.

Paul makes this point clearly in 1 Corinthians 14 when he notes that the edifying value of tongues is lost unless the tongues either attend or contain prophecy for the church. He writes, “If I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching?” (1 Cor 14:6). In short, he regards the existence of signs apart from prophecy (that to which the sign points) as a profitless distraction. And while Paul admittedly allows for the interpretation of tongues to supply the necessary prophecy, he notes that this is abnormal in the church—tongues are normally means of assuaging skeptics (14:22), not conduits for revelation.

Peter echoes this sentiment when he describes the “prophetic word [i.e., Scripture] made more sure” by virtue of the miracle of transfiguration (2 Pet 1:19–20). Commentators are divided whether the verse is describing Scripture as “more sure” than the miracle of the Transfiguration, or as “more sure” because of the miracle of the Transfiguration. In either case, however, our point is made: the role of miracles is subordinate in function to the inscripturated Word. Once that inscripturated Word has been sufficiently attested, the major function of miracles and tongues disappears.

It is here that my greatest concern with tongues comes to the fore. If the foregoing is true, then the continuance of tongues implies either (1) that Scripture is a source of revelation that is inadequately attested or (2) that Scripture is a source of revelation that is insufficient for the needs of the present dispensation (violating the spirit of such texts as 2 Timothy 3:17 and 2 Peter 1:3–4). At best this understanding threatens Scripture’s unique authority and causes people to neglect Scripture in favor of other, more direct sources of instruction and guidance, and at worst it opens up the faith to an unbounded host of non-orthodox additions and emendations.3 It is difficult to see how the continuation of tongues and prophecy can coexist with the doctrine of biblical sufficiency, and even with the first-order doctrine of sola scriptura. And if church history tells us anything, it tells us that the denial of sola scriptura has functioned time and again as the threshold for heterodoxy in the development of the Christian church.

The argument from the purpose of tongues as kingdom markers

In Hebrews 6:5 we discover that the miracles performed by our Lord and by the early church described as the “powers of the age to come.” Dispensationalists have long used this text as decisive in arguing for cessationism—tongues are not for this age, but for the kingdom age, and so we should expect them to be suspended after Christ’s kingdom offer has been rescinded and the kingdom program has been properly adjusted to the present NT arrangement.

I believe this is still a sound argument. However, the widespread popularity of “realized eschatology” that swept through Christianity at large in the 1930s, overtook evangelicalism in the 1950s, and finally penetrated dispensational theology in the 1980s and 1990s, has tended to overturn this argument. As we noted earlier, the newest arguments for continuationism are much less rearward in focus, and correspondingly more forward-looking: tongues are not a lingering expression of an ancient church practice, but an anticipatory expression of eschatological hope. Seizing on the apparent fulfillment language of Acts 2:16–21 with reference to Joel 2:28–32, these argue (1) that the prophecy of tongues in Joel 2 is clearly eschatological in nature, (2) that its fulfillment began in Acts 2, and finally (3) that we should expect this eschatological practice to continue and even to expand in the life of the church as it approaches the end of the age. Many, in fact, seem to regard the eschatological argument for continuationism as unassailable.4 The following syllogism, adapted from Douglas Moo’s similar syllogism with reference to healing, has direct implications for the issue of tongues and prophecy:

  1. Where the kingdom of God is present, tongues and prophecy are present.

  2. The kingdom of God is present in and through the church in our day.

  3. Therefore tongues and prophecy must be present in and through the church today.5

Moo goes on to qualify the conclusion to say that “the presence of the reign of God in and through the church makes miracles of healing possible, but not necessary,” noting that the latter understanding smacks of an “over-realized eschatology” that sees the kingdom present in all of its fullness. Moo concludes that “biblical balance is best preserved if Christians remain open to the exercise of miraculous healings but do not insist on them.”6

Looking objectively at this syllogism, I find the logic impeccable—if the major and minor premises are in fact valid. And it is not surprising that progressive dispensationalists, who have embraced not only the major premise (A), but also (at least in part) the minor premise (B), have begun to cautiously embrace more open views on tongues—there remains little in their system to preclude this.7 But traditional dispensationalism, which holds to a postponed kingdom and thus rejects minor premise (B), is able to deny the conclusion and argue positively for cessationism. In fact, one might go so far as to argue that traditional dispensationalism alone can successfully argue for cessationism.8 Not all, of course, are thus inclined. Robert Saucy (a progressive dispensationalist), for instance, denies that inaugurated eschatology demands tongues, arguing that while the church enjoys some of the spiritual/redemptive benefits of kingdom life, the full manifestation of the physical/empowering benefits of kingdom life remain future.9 Richard B. Gaffin (a non-dispensationalist) argues that tongues belong properly to redemptive history and not church history, noting that the “waiting” church does not have all of the kingdom benefits promised to the eschatological community of the redeemed.10 But while these attempts to maintain a cessationist position are noteworthy, they seem to reflect a bit of arbitrariness in application that is difficult to maintain. I am convinced that by far the most ironclad defense of cessationism lies in the hands of the traditional dispensationalist who sees tongues as expressions of powers of a kingdom in abeyance, as markers of an age still to come (Heb 6:5).

Joel 2 in Acts 2

The scope of this paper does not permit a full defense of the traditional dispensational view of the kingdom. This has been effectively accomplished elsewhere.11 But it does seem relevant to at least answer the specific question of the use of Joel 2 in Acts 2. At first blush Luke does seem to be suggesting that Joel’s kingdom promises are being fulfilled as the newly inaugurated kingdom begins to blossom: “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16, KJV). And in continuationist literature, this is regularly assumed to be true without argument. However, as we begin to compare Acts 2 with Joel 2, an astonishing discovery emerges, viz., that none of the details of Joel’s prophecy find fulfillment in Acts 2: (1) the events in Acts do not take place “after the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord”; (2) the Spirit is not poured out on all mankind; (3) dreams and visions do not occur in Acts 2, and there is no clear indication that prophecy occurs either; (4) blood, fire, columns of smoke do not make an appearance, and (5) the concealment of the great luminaries does not occur. In fact, the one miracle that we do find in Acts 2—tongues—is ironically not predicted in Joel.12 As such, we have a great hermeneutical conundrum on our hands. Several options emerge:

  • Some, particularly of the more covenantal persuasion suggest that Peter has simply recast Joel’s prophecy and that the prophecy is fulfilled in its entirety at Pentecost.13

  • Some suggest that Peter is employing a combination of pešer techniques and “advance typology” to supply “eschatological application to a present situation” by the “use of text alteration or wordplay by a divinely inspired figure.”14

  • Some suggest that Peter sees Joel’s prophecy as having an extended fulfillment or multiple fulfillments such that the fulfillment has begun, but awaits completion.15

  • Some suggest that Peter was simply speaking analogically, that is, suggesting a point of similarity between the events predicted in Joel 2 and the events occurring in Acts 2—viz., the supernatural outpouring of pneumatological powers. In this case there is no fulfillment at all, only a point of similarity.16

I am convinced that fidelity to the plain, unalterable, and infallible text of the OT makes the first two options not only implausible, but incompatible with inerrancy. The third might be plausible if only there were at least one piece of the Joel prophecy actually fulfilled in Acts 2. In view of the fact that this is not the case, I am convinced that the analogical understanding of Peter’s language is to be preferred. In this case, the exercise of tongues in Acts 2 is not to be associated with the arrival of the kingdom, but is, instead, a kingdom marker, that is, a signal of a shift in God’s kingdom program that heretofore had been a mystery. As such, tongues in Acts functioned in the absence of the completed Word of God to confirm, specifically (but not exclusively) to the Jews, the viability of the dramatic change in how a believer is to rightly relate with God in view of the dissolution of sacrifices, the setting aside of the Law, the unfolding of God’s new dispensational vehicle, the church, and the unlikely inclusion of Gentiles in that body. All these changes, which a Jew would naturally view with a skeptical eye, merited proof from God that they were, indeed, legitimate changes—proof that a shift in God’s kingdom program had truly occurred. And this proof came, very often, in the form of glossolalia.

Editor’s note: the conclusion of this series will discuss tongues and the church.

Notes

1 Robert L. Saucy, “Open but Cautious,” p. 106. Saucy goes on to observe that tongues are not employed in the book of Acts to attest teachers, but only prophets, that is, those who served as direct spokesmen for God as the “first witnesses” of Christ (p. 109).

2 BDAG, s.v. “σημεῖον” p. 920.

3 I would be remiss at this point to ignore the protests of conservative continuationists, many of whom cling tenaciously to the inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of the Bible. Wayne Grudem, for instance, argues that the allowance of miraculous gifts in the church today need not conflict with “a strong affirmation of the closing of the New Testament canon (so that no new words of equal authority are given today), of the sufficiency of Scripture, and of the supremacy and unique authority of the Bible in guidance” (Gift of Prophecy, p. 18). These doctrines may be maintained by a continuationist, he affirms, if we recognize that, unlike OT prophecies, “prophecy in ordinary New Testament churches was not equal to Scripture in authority but was simply a very human—and sometimes partially mistaken—report of something the Holy Spirit brought to someone’s mind.” By thus assigning fallibility to modern-day revelations, prophecies, and by extension tongues, Grudem ostensibly safeguards the priority of the biblical record.

To me this explanation creates a great number of problems (e.g., an inexplicable dichotomy between OT and NT prophecy; renegade, non-authoritative, private revelations that are divine in origin, but which are also unverifiable and potentially untrue; etc.) and solves none. Grudem’s protests notwithstanding, it seems impossible to integrate Grudem’s continuationism with his affirmation that “Scripture contains all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains all the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly” (Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 127). For a thorough rebuttal of Grudem see Waldron, To Be Continued? pp. 61–79; F. David Farnell, “Fallible New Testament Prophecy/Prophets? A Critique of Wayne Grudem’s Hypothesis,” TMSJ 2 (Fall 1991): 157–81.

4 See, e.g., Gordon D. Fee, God’s Empowering Presence (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994), pp. 822–26; Craig Keener, Gift and Giver, pp. 52–57, 96–98; Douglas A. Oss, “The Pentecostal/ Charismatic View,” in Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? 266–73; Jack Deere, Surprised by the Power of the Spirit: Discovering How God Speaks and Heals Today (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993), pp. 224–25; Graham A. Cole, He Who Gives Life: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007), p. 255.

5 Douglas J. Moo, “Divine Healing in the Health and Wealth Gospel,” TrinJ 9 (Fall 1988): 197.

6 Ibid., pp. 197–98.

7 See, e.g., Ryrie’s prediction of this in his Dispensationalism (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), p. 177; also Bruce A. Baker, “Progressive Dispensationalism & Cessationism: Why They Are Incompatible,” Journal of Ministry and Theology 8 (Spring 2004): 55–88.

8 Moo makes this very point in his article, albeit in a somewhat backhanded way. He notes that [traditional] dispensationalists “should not necessarily expect divine healing in our day because the kingdom is not, in fact present.” Moo dismisses this view, however, as out of step with the evangelical consensus that the kingdom has been inaugurated, and concludes, “The kingdom is indeed present in our day, and we should expect to see signs of that kingdom” (Moo, “Divine Healing,” p. 197).

9 “An Open but Cautious Response to Douglas A. Oss,” in Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? pp. 302–4.

10 “A Cessationist Response to Douglas A. Oss,” in Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? pp. 285ff.

11 I recommend Alva J. McClain’s The Greatness of the Kingdom (Winona Lake, IN: BMH, 1959) as the best exemplar here. While McClain’s view of the kingdom differs (sometimes significantly) from the understanding that emerged from the Dallas school of theology (e.g., titles by Chafer, Walvoord, and Pentecost), they resonate together in placing the Messianic kingdom in the future. The mystery “form” of the kingdom advocated by the latter group is not to be confused with the already/not yet understanding of the progressive dispensationalist view of the Messianic kingdom.

12 In Roy Beacham’s excellent summary of this passage, he concludes sagely the “time, substance, and referents” of the fulfillment are all wrong—nothing matches! (“The Analogical Use of Joel 2:28–32 in Acts 2:15–21: A Literal Approach,” in The Holy Spirit: Bible Faculty Leadership Summit [Allen Park, MI: Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, 1998], pp. 109–10) .

13 E.g., John R. W. Stott, The Message of Acts (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), p. 73.

14 E.g., Daniel J. Treier, “The Fulfillment of Joel 2:28–32: A Multiple Lens JETS Approach,”40 (March 1997): 18.

15 E.g., Darrell L. Bock, Acts, BECNT (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), pp. 112ff; Walter C. Kaiser, Back to the Future: Hints for Interpreting Biblical Prophecy (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1989), p. 43.

16 See. e.g., Beacham, “Use of Joel 2:28–32 in Acts 2:15–21”; Thomas D. Ice, “Dispensational Hermeneutics,” in Issues in Dispensationalism, ed. Wesley R. Willis and John R. Master (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), p. 41. For a helpful hermeneutical discussion of this use of fulfillment language in the NT, see Charles H. Dyer, “Biblical Meaning of ‘Fulfillment,’” in Issues in Dispensationalism, ed. Wesley R. Willis and John R. Master (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), pp. 57–69.


Mark Snoeberger has served as Director of Library Services at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary since 1997, and as a part-time instructor here since 1999. Prior to coming on staff at DBTS, he served for three years as an assistant pastor. He received his M.Div. and Th.M. degrees from DBTS in 1999 and 2001, respectively. Dr. Snoeberger earned the Ph.D. in systematic theology in 2008 from Baptist Bible Seminary in Clarks Summit, PA. He provides pulpit supply for area churches on an active basis and teaches in the Inter-City Bible Institute. He and his wife, Heather, have two sons, Jonathan and David.

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Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Quote:
But there are other essential questions for me personally that God can use other ways to guide me--reason, principles, or personal communication. For example, I wanted to be a missionary for years, but God always said no. How did He say no? Every "door" was open. But I just knew in my heart, from God, that if i went, I would be sinning, it was not God's will for me (at that time). That is personal, direct communication from God to me. Was it special? I'm not sure how that is defined . . .

I wonder why there is a tendency to think that common sense, research, and intuition are somehow 'unspiritual'- not that you are thinking that Anne, but as I read this last portion of your post some thoughts came to mind. I've thought for years that God uses what we already know, that sometimes circumstances (trials, temptations) can bring about a clearer understanding of a passage of Scripture, and that we underestimate our subconscious mind, which was also designed by God to hold a bunch of things that we might disregard at first, but then comes in real handy later. The Holy Spirit can bring verses to the forefront of our minds- but only if we have already it stuck in there somewhere. We feel the 'leading' of the Holy Spirit to do or not do something, but I think when we sit down and analyze it, that leading was based on knowledge that we already possessed from Scripture, wise counsel, and personal experience. That is why there are times that people make decisions and say "God told me" or "The Holy Spirit is leading me" - and then everything goes to Honduras in a handbasket- was that person misled? Did God have a special trial planned for them? Or was their thinking faulty and they simply pinned their own wishes on God and let Him take the fall if things don't work out?

The problem for me with listening to 'the little voice inside my head' that points me toward a certain decision is also the voice that says "Wouldn't you love a Burrito Supreme with extra sour cream right now?" Bleah I believe we know more than we think we know about people/places/things, and based on what I've studied about human intuition, it has a solid foundation in our knowledge base and years of experience- it is not all that mysterious. Which is why IMO verses like Phil. 4:8 are so crucial- if we've corrupted our minds with carnality and humanistic worldviews, our decision making is much more likely to be faulty.

So- what I'm saying is that I believe what we sometimes call a "personal, direct communication" is simply the Holy Spirit bringing to our attention the things we already know- it is not 'special revelation' of any sort. It is still a work of the Holy Spirit as guide, but it is not 'new' knowledge.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Susan touched on a topic that I continue to find very interesting. Did some writing a while back that got into it a bit... there is a tendency to think "heart" (by which people often mean what is non-rational in us, what is intuitive, etc.) is better than "intellect" (where we observe, recall and reason). By "better" I mean godlier, or more in tune with the Spirit. One of these days, I'd like to research the idea back into Christian history and figure out all the contributing factors.
But my belief is that part of the mix is the belief that the "heart"/non-rational in us is less affected by sin and inherently closer to God. This idea is hard to find in Scripture where we're told the heart is deceitful above all things (though I've argued that the whole notion of "heart" as non-rational and distinct from "mind" is not a biblical way of thinking).

Anyway, it's an interesting and complex area of study. At the very least, we should question the idea that the Spirit does not guide through rational thought and that the mysterious "inner voice" is more likely to be from Him than the less mysterious use of the intellect.

A variation of this way of thinking is "seeing God work" lingo. That is, I've heard some well meaning and passionate believers rave about some amazing and unexplainable sequence of events in terms along the lines of "Isn't it great to see God work?" The implication is often that we are not seeing God work unless something unexplainable has happened. But again, we're not thinking biblically. In Him we live and move and have our being. We are seeing God work whenever we see anything at all. There is no other way to see. It's all under the umbrella of His providence. I often think it takes more faith to see Him in the ordinary than in the "mysterious and amazing," and looking at life that way marks true Christian maturity.
Bit I'm rambling. It's a topic that fascinates me.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Mark Snoeberger's picture

The last two comments remind me of a comment that Phil Johnson made over on Pyromaniacs (http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2010/02/miracles-and-acts-of-providence.html):

[Quote ]"Here's the main point: The faith that sees the hand of God in the natural outworking of divine providence (and understands that God is sovereign over every detail of everything that happens) is not a lesser faith than the kind of belief that can only see God at work when He intervenes in spectacular, supernatural, and miraculous ways."[/Quote ]

MAS

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Just when I think I've come up with something brilliant, I find out someone's already been saying it for years! Wink

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Richard Pajak's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

Anyway, it's an interesting and complex area of study. At the very least, we should question the idea that the Spirit does not guide through rational thought and that the mysterious "inner voice" is more likely to be from Him than the less mysterious use of the intellect.

A variation of this way of thinking is "seeing God work" lingo. That is, I've heard some well meaning and passionate believers rave about some amazing and unexplainable sequence of events in terms along the lines of "Isn't it great to see God work?" The implication is often that we are not seeing God work unless something unexplainable has happened. But again, we're not thinking biblically. In Him we live and move and have our being. We are seeing God work whenever we see anything at all. There is no other way to see. It's all under the umbrella of His providence. I often think it takes more faith to see Him in the ordinary than in the "mysterious and amazing," and looking at life that way marks true Christian maturity.
Bit I'm rambling. It's a topic that fascinates me.

The trouble with that way of thinking to my mind is that it seeks to persuade us to settle for the ordinary, to rationalise everything away, to call what is "ordinary" a miracle thus enabling us to say that "the age of miracles is past, but hey don't let that trouble you, just look around you everything you see is really a miracle"
Something explainable is obviously not as striking as something unexplainable. To the unbeliever that "something explainable"is his reason to deny that God exists or if He exists He doesn't do miracles anymore.
Jesu's miracles were unexplainable to the rational mind but impacted more exactly because of that.
If they were explainable then they could be more easily rationalised away.
If it takes more faith to see God in the ordinary why do so many find the "mysterious and amazing" so hard to believe? and why are they so ready to rationalise why it happened as it did.I would put that down to man's nature to doubt.
If Jesus healed someone miraculously it cleary brought more glory to God than if He simply bandaged up someone's wounds or if He'd used some medical means.
I think , in order to try to give a reason for the notion that (spectacular or out of the ordinary)miracles have ceased, that we have shifted the definition of "miracle" so much that almost anything is now considered to be a miracle.
I think we have sought to dilute its meaning too much so that now a "miracle" means almost anything you want it to mean.
I see it as that same mindset that says "God always answers prayer, only sometimes He says no" whereas I think He simply does not answer your prayer; in other words if my prayer is for God to heal someone but he isn't healed one person looks at it (in a misguided and unneccesary attempt to defend God) as God saying "no" whereas to me God simply decided not to answer my prayer.

Richard Pajak

Anne Sokol's picture

about heart and feely things, it's not at all what i experienced.

every scripture, opportunity, and desire was open for me going the the mission field at various times at that point in my life. the bottom line was that at the end of every path, the Spirit just put this sense of conviction or knowlege in my heart that I was not to do that. all my "feelings" were going the other way.

looking back, i see why i had to wait. At the time, i didn't not understand at all.

i have no problem making decisions using reason, principles, Scripture, but there are some decisions where in the final analysis, God just has to tell me personally what to do. like with this adoption we are doing. I am re-living this "will of God" issue that I had with being a missionary on many levels.

Smile

p.s. I don't consider personal communication or guidance special revelation. i think special revelation more signifies something that is true for everyone or put out for everyone to learn from. i think there are a lot of ways God can communicate on a personal level with us without it being a "God told me" or "I have a word from God" type of thing. For example, the mother of a lady I know in our church, God "told" her she was having a girl. Up until the child came out of her body, the drs were saying it was a boy. and she said, no, God told me it was a girl. lo and behold, that is what she was. So i don't think those types of things are taken on the level of Scripture revelation, it's just personal communication.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Richard wrote:
The trouble with that way of thinking to my mind is that it seeks to persuade us to settle for the ordinary, to rationalise everything away, to call what is "ordinary" a miracle thus enabling us to say that "the age of miracles is past, but hey don't let that trouble you, just look around you everything you see is really a miracle"...

I actually don't lump "ordinary" and "miracle." I think the distinction is very important. Whether the "age of miracles" is past depends on what you mean by "age of miracles." If we mean "a time during which God is using miraculous signs frequently," I would say that if we look at Scripture, we find that there were several "ages of miracles," punctuating long periods of fairly "ordinary" providence (It only seems ordinary. It's really God at work.)
And yes, I would say that we are now in another period dominated by "ordinary" providence. I do believe miracles are always possible, and God may choose do one at any time (FWIW, I hate the "miracles happen" bumper sticker attitude--not accusing you here, just can't resist the digression--miracles do not "happen;" they are performed by God or persons He empowers. Are very intentional things.)

As for "settle for the ordinary," we should settle for whatever God sees fit to give us, and give thanks, shouldn't we?

Quote:
Something explainable is obviously not as striking as something unexplainable.

If we are walking by sight and not by faith, certainly. And all of us do to a degree. But I'm probably being too fussy on this point. God uses miracles in Scripture as signs (almost always to authenticate revelation of some kind) precisely because they stand out from "ordinary" providence. So in that sense, absolutely more striking, yes.

Anne wrote:
p.s. I don't consider personal communication or guidance special revelation.
How does that work? I mean, in your view, how does God "communicate" without revealing anything? And if He "reveals" something, what is the nature of that something? Is it infallible? If not, how could God reveal something fallible? If it is infallible, how does it differ from prophecy?

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Anne Sokol's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Anne wrote:
p.s. I don't consider personal communication or guidance special revelation.
How does that work? I mean, in your view, how does God "communicate" without revealing anything? And if He "reveals" something, what is the nature of that something? Is it infallible? If not, how could God reveal something fallible? If it is infallible, how does it differ from prophecy?
I don't have a scientific answer for your question. i just think that as humans in God's image, we have many, many ways of communicating or being communicated to. So whatever we mean by special revelation--scripture, infallible, for all people at all times. Well, i would just make up another word as for how God can communicate that doesn't have the connotations of "special revelation."

like when hudson taylor was wrestling with getting other missionaries to china with faith living, and he had the thought that if God could do it for one, He could do it for them all (or something like that, i don't remember the exact details). i wouldn't call that special revelation b/c that is a pretty specific theological term. But i think God can communicate things to us "outside" of the exact words scripture. but it's scary to write about you know. unleashing the charlatans of the religious world.

Richard Pajak's picture

Anne Sokol wrote:
Aaron Blumer wrote:
Anne wrote:
p.s. I don't consider personal communication or guidance special revelation.
How does that work? I mean, in your view, how does God "communicate" without revealing anything? And if He "reveals" something, what is the nature of that something? Is it infallible? If not, how could God reveal something fallible? If it is infallible, how does it differ from prophecy?
I don't have a scientific answer for your question. i just think that as humans in God's image, we have many, many ways of communicating or being communicated to. So whatever we mean by special revelation--scripture, infallible, for all people at all times. Well, i would just make up another word as for how God can communicate that doesn't have the connotations of "special revelation."

like when hudson taylor was wrestling with getting other missionaries to china with faith living, and he had the thought that if God could do it for one, He could do it for them all (or something like that, i don't remember the exact details). i wouldn't call that special revelation b/c that is a pretty specific theological term. But i think God can communicate things to us "outside" of the exact words scripture. but it's scary to write about you know. unleashing the charlatans of the religious world.

The communication that dares not speak its name?

Richard Pajak

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Well, I'm not going to pin you down I can see. Smile

I certainly do believe that the Spirit is quite capable of guiding our thinking in one direction rather than another as well as providentially arranging circumstances so that we see truth we would otherwise miss--including the well placed fellow believer with a word of advice or seemingly random observation. None of these are new information from God, and that's where I draw the line.
I strongly recommend relying on the fully sufficient Bible for what we truly need to know.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

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