Discernment and Revelation, Part 2: Modern Revelations

Read the series so far.

Continuationists, those who believe that the miraculous sign gifts, including prophecy, are still available to believers today, define their supposed revelations in different ways. There are two broad categories that could be acknowledged, the first of which claims prophetic messages from the Lord. Such messages would be direct, clear words from God or angels, perhaps in dreams or visions or through audible voices. Such claims have long been common in Pentecostal and charismatic circles and are increasing among non-charismatic evangelicals.

Extremely popular conference speaker and author Beth Moore is well known for her claims of hearing from God. In a DVD she states,

Boy, this is the heart of our study. This is the heart of our study. Listen carefully. What God began to say to me about five years ago, and I’m telling you it sent me on such a trek with Him, that my head is still whirling over it. He began to say to me, “I’m going to tell you something right now, Beth, and boy you write this one down and you say it as often as I give you utterance to say it.”1

Such statements coming from evangelicals are far too common to need much documentation. Moore is claiming a direct word from the Lord that sets the future agenda for her ministry. The source of authority is her own experience.

A popular view of continuing prophecy

From a more doctrinal base we turn to theologian Wayne Grudem, who has had a massive impact on the evangelical world concerning modern prophecies. Grudem has written the definitive book on the subject, The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today, in which he claims that church age prophecy is different than Old Testament prophecy. While the Old Testament prophet was held to the standard of infallibility when speaking a word from the Lord (Deut 18:20-24), prophecies beginning with Pentecost are fallible and imperfect. He writes,

Prophecy in ordinary New Testament churches was not equal to Scripture in authority, but simply a very human—and sometimes partially mistaken—report of something the Holy Spirit brought to someone’s mind.2

Modern prophecy then is impure and imperfect. By way of example and documentation Grudem quotes the Anglican charismatic leaders Dennis and Rita Bennet who claim,

We are not expected to accept every word spoken through the gifts of utterance…but we are only to accept what is quickened to us by the Holy Spirit and is in agreement with the Bible…one manifestation may be 75% God, but 25% the person’s own thoughts. We must discern between the two.3

One of the most disconcerting aspects of Grudem’s position is his uncertainty as to how we can distinguish between our own thoughts and those supposedly from God. This is such an important and disturbing feature of the conservative continuationist’s system that I will quote Grudem at length.

But how would a person know if what came to mind was a “revelation” from the Holy Spirit? Paul did not write specific instructions; nonetheless, we may suppose that in practice such a decision would include both an objective and subjective element. Objectively, did the revelation conform with what the prophet knew of the Old Testament Scriptures and with apostolic teaching?4

With this quote cessationists partially agree. The Holy Spirit cannot contradict Himself and anything allegedly spoken by the Holy Spirit which is in disagreement with Scripture is naturally spurious. The continuationists, however, are rarely claiming new doctrines that supplement Scripture; they are claiming specific, personal words that guide them in decision making or knowledge of the future.

It should be mentioned in passing that contrary to what is often stated by continuationists, many espousing modern prophecies do in fact add numerous doctrines not found or taught in the Bible such as specific demonic warfare techniques; insights on heaven or hell; “word of faith” authority that releases the power of God; dominion theology; novel views on the atonement, inspiration, and ecclesiology. While more conservative continuationists such as Grudem, Piper, and Mahaney would not be guilty of such theological additions, many others are.

Turning back to Grudem we read of his subjective element of prophecy,

But there was no doubt also a subjective element of personal judgement: did the revelation “seem like” something from the Holy Spirit; did it seem to be similar to other experiences of the Holy Spirit which he had known previously in worship…. Beyond this it is difficult to specify much further, except to say that over time a congregation would probably become more adept at making evaluations of prophecies, and individual prophets would also benefit from those evaluations and become more adept at recognizing a genuine revelation from the Holy Spirit and distinguishing it from their own thoughts.5

The novelty of this view

When we contrast Grudem’s view of prophecy with Scripture we find nothing remotely resembling what Grudem teaches. Nowhere in the Bible is one receiving a message from God left to wonder if God is speaking to him (with the temporary exception of the young boy Samuel). No one had to ask if what they were hearing “seemed like” the Holy Spirit or matched previous subjective experiences that also “seemed like” the Holy Spirit. They knew without question when God was speaking to them.

Grudem’s view is essentially the same teaching that Dallas Willard exerts in Hearing God: “How can you be sure God is speaking to you? The answer is that we learn by experience.”6 Therefore subjective experience becomes the test of authority concerning revelation from God. This is a far cry from what we find in Scripture.

The second half of Grudem’s quote moves into the realm of the incredible. After 2,000 years of church history, the best this world-class theologian can offer is that “over time a congregation would probably become more adept at making evaluations of prophecies…” This is a statement of speculation and hope that at some point the church will begin to figure out when a word of revelation is actually coming from the Holy Spirit and when it is the imagination of the speaker.

A test

Let’s put Grudem’s hypothesis to a test. Sister Sally stands up in church and says the Holy Spirit has just revealed to her that an earthquake will flatten much of the city sometime within the next eight weeks. The congregation needs to add earthquake insurance to their properties, pack all their belongings, leave their jobs behind and head to the countryside. What is to be done? Given Grudem’s theory, the congregation knows that at best this prophecy is impure and most likely contains elements that are not from God. The people are then left to evaluate the validity of the revelation just received based on their own experience or other purely subjective means.

In the Bible, if a true prophet of God warned of an impending earthquake there would be no doubt as to what to do, but Grudem’s New Testament prophet is unreliable. I have to ask, of what value is such a prophecy? It has no authority or certainty, and may actually lead to bad and even disastrous decisions. These modern prophecies do not have the ring of “thus says the Lord.”

When the different views on modern revelation and prophecies collide, continuationists attempt to pacify cessationists by assuring them that their messages from the Lord are not on par with Scripture. Grudem quotes George Mallone saying,

Prophecy today, although it may be helpful and on occasion overwhelmingly specific, is not in the category of the revelation given to us in the Holy Scripture…. A person may hear the voice of the Lord and be compelled to speak, but there is no assurance that it is pollutant-free. There will be a mixture of flesh and spirit.7

Since almost no one within Christianity (save the cults) is claiming revelation that is equivalent to the Bible, we are left with a dilemma. Is it possible for God to speak in a non-authoritative way? Is it possible for Him to speak something less than His inspired word? The continuationists seem to have invented a novel type of divine revelation; one that contradicts Scripture and defies reason.

The purity of communication from God

In the Bible, as well as logically, either God is speaking or He is not. There is no such thing as partially inspired revelation or the true words from the Lord polluted by the misunderstanding or imagination of the prophet. This is not to say that all of God’s divine words are found in Scripture. John is careful to inform us that Jesus did many things, and certainly said many things, that are not recorded in his Gospel (John 20:30), or the other New Testament books for that matter. Yet all that Jesus said were the words of God. He never expressed an impure or untruthful thought. He spoke with authority.

Undoubtedly the Spirit also spoke through various men and women in biblical times whose words were not recorded in the Bible. The point, however, is that, while the Holy Spirit has not included every prophecy that He spoke through humans in Scripture, everything that He inspired people to say carries with it the infallible authority of the Word of God. Nothing that He said through people is less than God’s word. A polluted or partial revelation from the Holy Spirit has never been uttered.

This means that modern prophecies, words of knowledge, and other claims to hearing the voice of the Lord, if they are truly from the Holy Spirit, must be equal to the Scriptures in both inspiration and authority. God cannot speak with other than purity and inerrancy. Modern claims of the Lord speaking but with a “mixture of flesh and spirit” simply are not possible and are never attested to in Scripture. Those who are claiming divine revelation today must wrestle with the fact that what they are supposedly hearing must carry the same authority of the divinely inspired authors of Scripture.

Notes

1 Quoted from Beth Moore’s DVD “Believing God.”

2 Wayne Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today, (Wheaton: Crossway, 1988), p. 14.

3 Ibid., p. 110.

4 Ibid., p. 120.

5 Ibid., pp. 120, 121 (emphasis mine).

6 Dallas Willard, p. 9 (emphasis mine).

7 Wayne Grudem., p. 111.

Gary Gilley Bio


Gary Gilley has served as Senior Pastor of Southern View Chapel in Springfield, Illinois since 1975. He has authored several books and is the book review editor for the Journal of Dispensational Theology. He received his BA from Moody Bible Institute. He and his wife Marsha have two adult sons and six grandchildren.

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There are 28 Comments

Bert Perry's picture

It strikes me that if indeed Grudem is correct that prophecy in the church age differs from prophecy in the Old Testament times, then we ought to be able to point to prophets whose prophecies did not come true, but were still commended by God, in the Scriptures.  Quite frankly, I'm drawing a blank.  Does Grudem give any examples?

But even if he does, I am still reluctant to suggest that I ought to drag God's name into things that are proven not to be true.  Somehow that seems to be blasphemy.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Wayne Wilson's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

It strikes me that if indeed Grudem is correct that prophecy in the church age differs from prophecy in the Old Testament times, then we ought to be able to point to prophets whose prophecies did not come true, but were still commended by God, in the Scriptures.  Quite frankly, I'm drawing a blank.  Does Grudem give any examples?

But even if he does, I am still reluctant to suggest that I ought to drag God's name into things that are proven not to be true.  Somehow that seems to be blasphemy.  

Grudem claims Agabus made errors in his prophecies in the Book of Acts.  Much has been written in defense of Agabus.

Bert Perry's picture

But Acts 11:28 notes that the famine took place during the reign of Claudius!

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Kevin Miller's picture

The answer to this question may seem obvious to some of you, but I'm not sure of it. Where does the Bible actually say that prophesy will close with the establishment of the canon? I do know that I Corinthians 13 talks about prophesy being done away with. Verses 9 and 10 say "For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." If we understand "that which is perfect" as the canon, then I could see prophesy ending with the establishment of the canon, but verse 12 seem to tie the ending of "that which is in part" to the Second Coming of Christ. It says "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." I'm not going to see "face to face" until Christ returns, so THAT is when "that which is in part" is going to be done away with, at least that is how I am understanding these verses. Is that a faulty understanding? So is there some other passage which says that prophesy will end?

Anne Sokol's picture

this man is confusing 2 very different things.

I have always thought that the cessationism/continuation-ism debate is dealing with the sign gifts--speaking in tongues & miraculous healings. Mixing it around with any possible inclination or movement of the indwelling Holy Spirit in a believer's life/thoughts is crazy.

I have had several instances of God leading/speaking to me personally, like today when I was strongly pushed to pray about finding a valuable thing we'd lost.... and it was found in a wild way. Do I have to believe that the sign gifts continue today or that this was some form of "revelation" to believe that God, though His Spirit, is taking an active part in my daily life? I 've had experiences like this one, too, that I recorded on my blog about our most recent unassisted birth: http://birthinukraine.wordpress.com/2014/09/23/everything-is-good-my-tri...

This was a very important question, about learning to discern the voice/movement of God inside me, because my conscience was so strong and so condemning (and out to kill me) when I was a younger Christian. It did take a lot of "experience" and Scripture to figure out what was God's convicting me, and what was my out-of-control conscience giving me no peace.

??

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Anne, I don't know if I can answer your question, but I think I can help locate the issue a bit more maybe.

What is not controversial, as far as I know:

  • That God leads through providence
  • That God leads through the indwelling Spirit

What is less agreed upon...

  • What does providential leading include? (Surely circumstances, experience. What about conscience and feelings of peace or lack thereof? We all make some choices--quite alot of them actually--intuitively without full awareness of the reasons why. Does guided human intuition fall in the category of providential leading?)
  • How does the Spirit lead? (Surely by bringing the Scriptures to mind, helping us see their relevance to our situation, helping us trust them. But does He speak through the conscience as well? What kind of authority do inner impressions have? How do we tell if they are from the Spirit or just our minds, or worst of all, our sinfulness?)
  • Of course, the whole issue of prophecy and words from God. One pretty clear dividing line in the whole issue is receiving words vs. receiving (or just having) impressions, strong or otherwise. Looking at the pattern we find in Scripture, God makes a big deal about words from Him. He also provides visions and object lessons (e.g. Ezekiel communicated several ideas via what we today call performance art), but these are clearly identified as from Him also. There never seems to be any guesswork (by the recipient) as to their source. And those who receive them seem to always know what they mean as well (though perhaps sometimes not all of what they mean).

Over the years, various traditions have developed among Christians as to how the Spirit guides and leads. These traditions need to be carefully scrutinized by what we have in Scripture. If we do that, we're at least protected from the more extreme ideas about inner impressions, feelings of peace, etc., though it is not crystal clear in every detail how the Spirit and providence work to guide us.

Anne Sokol's picture

I think it's interesting to talk about, but very hard to draw conclusions ... because it's the realm of personal experience.

I think the conclusions are tangential--Like I don't think we should be teaching people to expect to hear something from God. It is of His own volition if he so chooses. (I say this in response to groups who seem to "demand" hearing from God in such-and-such a way and systematize it.

This is a realm of God that defies a systematic theology, and it's a very personal thing.

Another tangential conclusion: It's not a sign of spiritual maturity. While I think that one can become "experienced" in discerning the work of God in his/her soul, having distinct experiences is not a sign of being mature/being a leader. I don't think people who actually read Dallas Willard would be that freaked out by him. It irks that people who've never heard him or read him talk about such-and-such shocking thing, when if they'd just go to the original source, they'd see it's not what they're making it out to be.

I have acquaintances here in Kiev (where the Christian pond is much smaller) who do a lot of revelations, prophecies, speaking in tongues, etc. I see problematic things with this in theology and in practice, though I will say, the group that came from the States was very, very grounded in Scripture, so it does vary.

Anne Sokol's picture

it does need to be talked about because of those claiming to hear from God His will for others' lives. We have a lot of that here-- the charlatans, etc. Others who are well-meaning.

An american pastor here, he is pentacostal or charismatic, he has (you can watch it on youtube in english/russian) a vision about the war here-- he even preached about it using powerpoint-- he "saw" where there will be fighting, etc. ... Is it true? I don't know. Do I hang my hat on it? No way. Does it affect my life in any way? No. But there are probably people in his congregation making decisions with it in mind.

But hes' a wonderful man--I know him personally--he's very involved in the pro-life movement, etc. He has many other mature and godly parts about his life, in ways that I am not.

So anyway ... It needs to be talked about, but we, the Bible lovers, shouldn't go farther than the Bible goes in the ways we deal with this and offend in the opposite way.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Anne Sokol wrote:

I think it's interesting to talk about, but very hard to draw conclusions ... because it's the realm of personal experience.

I think the conclusions are tangential--Like I don't think we should be teaching people to expect to hear something from God. It is of His own volition if he so chooses. (I say this in response to groups who seem to "demand" hearing from God in such-and-such a way and systematize it.

This is a realm of God that defies a systematic theology, and it's a very personal thing.

Another tangential conclusion: It's not a sign of spiritual maturity. While I think that one can become "experienced" in discerning the work of God in his/her soul, having distinct experiences is not a sign of being mature/being a leader. I don't think people who actually read Dallas Willard would be that freaked out by him. It irks that people who've never heard him or read him talk about such-and-such shocking thing, when if they'd just go to the original source, they'd see it's not what they're making it out to be.

I have acquaintances here in Kiev (where the Christian pond is much smaller) who do a lot of revelations, prophecies, speaking in tongues, etc. I see problematic things with this in theology and in practice, though I will say, the group that came from the States was very, very grounded in Scripture, so it does vary.

Anne,

Can you think of any other theological topic that you would say "defies systematic theology"?

 

You seem to be saying that a person cannot expect to biblically explain this topic, which you support by resorting to personal experience. How is that different from the homosexual crowd claiming conservatives have misunderstood biblical teaching on that topic? They also rely heavily on claims f personal experience that they claim overcomes any critic's textual argument?

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Anne Sokol wrote:

it does need to be talked about because of those claiming to hear from God His will for others' lives. We have a lot of that here-- the charlatans, etc. Others who are well-meaning.​

How are you able to dogmatically reject these "personal experiences" when you are using the same criteria to support your assertions?

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Anne Sokol's picture

we've chatted about this before, and I even bought a book on kindle that you recommended, and the guy had included portions in it that exactly explained the types of things I'm talking about. Can you remind me of that book? I will find those portions again and we can discuss them.

 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

The book was called Decision Making and the Will of God by Friesen. However, we discovered that the most recent edition of the book (2004) has been altered from the previous edition (1980) in ways which I no longer could endorse. However, I do have a copy of the recent edition as well, so if you want to use it here as a point of discussion, I should be able to follow you. 

 

That said, I don't think even the recent edition of the book answers the specific questions I have asked here. Let me reiterate my questions to give you a list to work with.

1. Can you think of any other theological topic that you would say "defies systematic theology" so that it cannot be explained biblically?

2. How is your claim of "personal experience" more authoritative or trustworthy than other group's claims that you reject - such as the homosexual crowd, or the groups who claim to know God's will for other people, or any other group who claims some personal experience from God gives them indisputable and unassailable standing?

     2a. Why is your personal experience superior to theirs?

     2b. What makes your personal experience an authority I should accept?

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Anne Sokol's picture

I think the key is in 2b. My personal experience has nothing to do with you. And I make no claims that it should.  I also don't think my personal experience should be expected by others or made a template for others about how God will or should interact with them. Those are two big differences from those who have prophecies and revelations and propagate these things (and I've sat in a board meeting with pentacostals and we had 20 min of silence so God could give us visions that were then shared/interpreted--I myself had no vision nor expected one Smile ). My experience is just a private thing that you would probably never even know about except for these conversations.

About this defying systematic theology ... I think God is a person. I don't think everything about him can be systematized. The knowledge we have of him in the Bible and in general revelation can be systematized. But the individual work of the Holy Spirit in a believer's life in the church age probably can't be entirely systematized.

Bert Perry's picture

It strikes me that, the Azusa revival having started only in 1906, there really hasn't been enough time for a  good volume of systematics to come out from the "Pentamatic" movement.

But that said, it strikes me that we do know a lot about prophecy and other Acts 2 gifts.  False prophets are to be strongly punished.  We can differ about whether that is death, excommunication, or other church discipline, but the fact of the matter is that speaking wrongly for God is blasphemy and a big deal.  We can also point out that God points out in 2 Tim. 3:16-17 that God's Word is sufficient for our lives.  That would seem to "hem in" the range of prophecy in these days to two basic areas; the "fleshing out" of specific details in our own walks of faith--perhaps who we marry, directions for planting churches, etc..--and then details of how the end times are going to play out.

Go outside that range for prophecy, and I start to get very nervous because at best it's a retread of Scripture, at worst it's a replacement for it.  Obviously we can also quibble over whether this really is Acts 2 prophecy, or whether it is simply the leading of the Holy Spirit, which I think we all acknowledge.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Many of the readers here at SI are familiar with the writings of Dan Phillips, Frank Turk and Phil Johnson over at Pyromaniacs. For those who are interested, here is a link to a compilation of a number of their very clear, concise articles dealing with this topic of sola scriptura and extra-biblical revelations (they call the extra-biblical group leaky canoneers) from various angles. Perhaps this quote shared in one of the posts sums it up best:

"Scripture contains all the divine words needed for any aspect of human life."
from The Doctrine of the Word of God (A Theology of Lordship Volume 4) by John Frame

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Anne Sokol wrote:

I think the key is in 2b. My personal experience has nothing to do with you. And I make no claims that it should.  I also don't think my personal experience should be expected by others or made a template for others about how God will or should interact with them. Those are two big differences from those who have prophecies and revelations and propagate these things (and I've sat in a board meeting with pentacostals and we had 20 min of silence so God could give us visions that were then shared/interpreted--I myself had no vision nor expected one Smile ). My experience is just a private thing that you would probably never even know about except for these conversations.

About this defying systematic theology ... I think God is a person. I don't think everything about him can be systematized. The knowledge we have of him in the Bible and in general revelation can be systematized. But the individual work of the Holy Spirit in a believer's life in the church age probably can't be entirely systematized.

Anne,

What you are describing here sounds very gnostic, like there's a special part of the Christian faith reserved for only a few special people that no one else gets, something that supercedes the ho-hum, run-of-the-mill, every-day Christian stuff found in the Bible for every one else.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Anne Sokol's picture

I could write up a paragraph reading ill-sounding things into your position, too, but ...

I won't Wink

Mark_Smith's picture

So which one was Friesen's real intent, the "pure" 1980 version that Chip endorses, or the corrupted 2nd edition...alas, the battle isn't just with the KJV!

Mark_Smith's picture

Those were great, simple answers. If God is a person, why is He forbidden from talking? Why must everything He says be authoritative for anyone but you? Yet, at the same time, MANY have said God told them something when He didn't. But, He did speak to some...

 

I liken this to the many nameless OT prophets referred to in the OT. Do you have ANY IDEA what most of them prophesied? No. Why? It wasn't for you. Only things that mattered for you were kept as scripture.

Anne Sokol's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

I liken this to the many nameless OT prophets referred to in the OT. Do you have ANY IDEA what most of them prophesied? No. Why? It wasn't for you. Only things that mattered for you were kept as scripture.

That's what I'm saying, isn't it? God doesn't have to communicate, if He doesn't want. It's all there in Scripture. But if he wants, in a personal way ... I am fine with it. As long as it's not someone making claims about my life. ... Do people "hear" wrong or imagine things? I'm sure they do. Do I have to cut off any possibility of this for that reason? No.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Dan Phillips provides a great summary definition/explanation of the doctrine of the closed cannon,

"It's that God has given us everything for which we need a word from God. It's bursting with His wisdom, His mind, His heart, His direction, His instruction. It has more in it than we will ever be able to take in, process, savor, and put into practice! It has enough to make us wise to salvation (2 Tim. 3:15), and fully to equip us for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17)!"

This is the crux of sola scriptura - either God has given us everything for which we need a word from Him to come to know Him and to faithfully and pleasingly serve Him, or He hasn't. Either the Bible is sufficient, or it's deficient. You cannot claim scripture alone and simultaneously claim extra-biblical communication from God.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Anne Sokol's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

You cannot claim scripture alone and simultaneously claim extra-biblical communication from God.

I can.

I'm not sure how much longer to talk about it.

?

Mark_Smith's picture

just to make the Psalms, or because He also liked talking to David because David listened to Him? Smile

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Anne Sokol wrote:

 

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

 

You cannot claim scripture alone and simultaneously claim extra-biblical communication from God.

 

I can.

 

I'm not sure how much longer to talk about it.

?

I suppose I should have been explicit instead of implicit in my assuming you would understand you cannot claim both logically. If the cannon is complete and sufficient, as sola scripture claims, then there is neither need nor room for God to continue communicating at this juncture. If God is communicating something I must have to life faithfully and pleasingly before Hie today, then scripture is neither complete nor sufficient. The two claims are diametrically opposed. 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Anne Sokol's picture

I don't really know that God communicates, outside of Scripture, things we must have to live faithfully and pleasingly before him today. Scripture is sufficient.

I think he can just communicate something because it's his pleasure to communicate.

Kevin Miller's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

Dan Phillips provides a great summary definition/explanation of the doctrine of the closed cannon,

"It's that God has given us everything for which we need a word from God. It's bursting with His wisdom, His mind, His heart, His direction, His instruction. It has more in it than we will ever be able to take in, process, savor, and put into practice! It has enough to make us wise to salvation (2 Tim. 3:15), and fully to equip us for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17)!"

This is the crux of sola scriptura - either God has given us everything for which we need a word from Him to come to know Him and to faithfully and pleasingly serve Him, or He hasn't. Either the Bible is sufficient, or it's deficient. You cannot claim scripture alone and simultaneously claim extra-biblical communication from God.

I'm not sure I understand how these verses from II Timothy are telling us that the canon is closed. They are telling us that the canon is sufficient for our lives, but according to one list I read, there were still 8 books of the canon written after II Timothy. If these verses in II Timothy are telling us the canon is closed, then how are those later books a part of the canon? In my mind, there has to be some further explanation of what closes the canon than a verse that tells us Scripture is sufficient for us, since there was still Scripture written after the verse that said Scripture was sufficient.

Bert Perry's picture

Kevin, the trick is that when 2 Tim. 3:17 notes that the man of God may be "perfect" or "complete", that implies that he is completely provided for in Scripture--no extra revelations needed.

Now I think we would all agree that this leaves plenty of room for the Counselor's leading, and I would agree that it is probably forgivable to confuse the Spirit's leading with the "speech" of the Scriptures.  But if we agree that the man of God is complete with the Scriptures, then that will leave less room for further revelation.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Bert,

Actually, I and many others would not agree. If you claim the cannon is closed, by definition God has completed His communication with man. This is the point of the discussion surrounding sola scriptura. I would once again recommend these articles on the issue; note particularly the ones dealing with the charismatic teaching on modern prophecy.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

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