Wayne Grudem

Fallible Prophecy or False Prophets? A Critique of Grudem’s Argument

Reposted from It Is Written. Read the series.

Wayne Grudem’s argument for the continuation of New Testament prophecy and tongues today depends, in part, on a distinction he makes between OT canonical prophecy and NT congregational prophecy. In the case of the former, divine inspiration extends to the prophet’s words. Thus, the utterance is infallible and absolutely authoritative. But in the case of the latter, divine inspiration only extends to the prophet’s mind. Hence, the prophet’s words may or may not accurately capture the revelation imparted to the mind. As a result, NT prophecy is fallible and relatively authoritative.

To support this thesis, Grudem offers two main lines of argumentation: first, he highlights what he believes to be examples of fallible NT prophets. Second, he appeals to NT texts that call for the evaluation of NT prophecy as proof that such prophecy is less than fully inspired and divinely authoritative.1 This article will attempt to demonstrate that Grudem’s arguments are inconclusive and unconvincing.

Fallible NT Prophets?

Grudem’s examples of fallible NT prophets are inconclusive.

1. The NT Prophets in Tyre (Acts 21:4)

Let’s consider Grudem’s appeal to Acts 21:4. The verse, in its larger context, reads as follows:

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OT Prophecy and NT Prophecy: Essential Continuity

Reposted from It Is Written. Read the series.

In the last installment of this series, we considered Wayne Grudem’s argument for a distinction between the canonical-level1 prophecy of the Old Testament and the congregational-level prophecy of the New Testament. The former is fully inspired, infallible, and authoritative. The latter is semi-revelational, fallible, and only relatively authoritative. As we saw, Grudem bases this distinction primarily on two lines of evidence: first, examples of fallible NT prophecy and, second, commands to assess the authenticity of NT prophecy.2

I have five lines of response to Grudem’s arguments by which I will attempt to show that the Scriptures do not support Grudem’s distinction between an infallible OT canonical prophecy and a fallible NT congregational prophecy. In contrast, the data of Scripture seems to place NT prophecy in the same divine and authoritative category as OT prophecy. We’ll consider the first three lines of response below.

The Nature of Old Testament Prophecy

The nature of OT prophecy is highlighted in three key passages.

Exodus 7:1-2

Here, Yahweh declares to Moses,

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Canonical Prophecy vs Congregational Prophecy: Wayne Grudem’s Argument

Reposted from It Is Written. Read the series.

Elsewhere we have argued that the canon of the Old and New Testaments is closed.1 If it can be demonstrated that the revelation of NT prophecy and tongues belongs to the same category as the revelation of Scripture and if we grant the cessation of Scripture revelation, then I think we’re forced to conclude that NT prophecy and tongues have ceased. Continuationists, like Wayne Grudem, concede the force of this argument. Grudem writes, “Now if New Testament congregational prophecy was like Old Testament prophecy and New Testament apostolic words in its authority, then this cessationist objection would be true.”2

It is for this reason that Grudem and other continuationists are forced to argue for a distinction between the revelation of Scripture and that of NT tongues and prophecy. Since Wayne Grudem is a leading exponent for this position, we will examine his basic arguments for a distinction between canonical prophecy and NT congregational prophecy.3 Then we will attempt to offer a biblical refutation, demonstrating that NT congregational prophecy belongs to the same class of revelation as Scripture.

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