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Sources of Revelation

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Jack Matthews, Feb 14, 2007.

  1. Jack Matthews

    Jack Matthews New Member

    Jul 7, 2006
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    My wife and I visited a church Sunday night at the invitation of a friend who was singing in a group there. We were under the impression that the church was non-denominational, and were a bit surprised to find out that it was a cooperating Southern Baptist church. I heard some things in the sermon that I'd have to say I've never heard in an SBC congregation before. I'll put his main points here, and see what kind of comment it generates.

    1. The Holy Spirit is a source of the Word of God to Christians in the same way that the Bible is a source of revelation. John 16:5-16.

    In this passage, Jesus is addressing believers who did not have written scripture. However, there is no place in the scripture that teaches that a written canon of the New Testament would replace the need for the revealing power of the Spirit.

    2. The gifts of prophecy and tongues have not ceased. The gift of prophecy is a source of revelation to the church (I Cor. 14:24-25) the gift of tongues is a gift for edification of the individual (I Cor. 14:4) but can also be a source of revelation when paired with the gift of interpretation (I Cor. 14:26-27). Believers gifted with tongues at a time and place where there is no interpretation may use the gift for prayer (I Cor. 14:28). The key is in the last half of verse 26, "All of these mmust be done for the strengthening of the church." Not everyone is gifted with tongues or interpretation, as the passage suggests, if it does occur in the body, two or three should speak and there should be an interpreter. If there is no interpreter, there is to be no public speaking in tongues. And as Paul points out, the gift of prophecy is greater. (But if Paul is speaking of a gift of prophecy that occurs in the gathered body, at the time of his writing, there was no written scripture or canon, so didn't prophecy constitute the receiving of a word from the Lord apart from the written word?

    3. There is no scripture support for the idea that the canon is "closed." Revelation that comes through spirit-filled prophecy, or by supernatural means, is intended to bring God's word to his children in the context of the culture in which they live. The church, as the body of Christ, is the "check and balance" on this. Do you not listen to your pastor as he preaches, and does God not speak through his words to you? Are there people that you look up to as mentors and teachers in the faith who provide you with guidance which you follow? Do you not have a spirit of discernment to be able to tell when something that you are being told is from the Lord or from the heart of human wisdom? Of course you do.

    My own pastor, also a Southern Baptist, says this is an area where Baptists depart from what the scripture has to say, and apply their own presupposed biases to interpreting this. His advice is to look at what the scriptures say, and if that differs from traditional Baptist teaching, go with the scripture.

    I'm sure there are differences of opinion out there on this board related to this subject.
  2. Brandon C. Jones

    Brandon C. Jones New Member

    May 3, 2005
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    The cessationist argument put forward by Baptists usually follows along the lines of B. B. Warfield's arguments from a century ago. I am unconvinced that Paul was talking about the closing of the canon in 1 Corinthians when he mentions "when the perfect comes." This does not transfer to an affirmation of the charismatic understanding of 1 Corinthians either. Neither does it transfer to the charismatic understanding of prophecy. For instance, in 1 Thessalonians 5 there is, in my opinion, a good contextual reason to believe that the prophecy not to be despised is his instructions regarding sexual immorality in chapter 4. But that's just one example and it isn't even from I Corinthians.

    The best argument cessationists have is from Hebrews 2, which Warfield uses. The debate centers on an old cart-horse problem. Did the charismata die out by the Spirit's will because the canon was established or did it die out because the church became cold until the recent charismatic revival? Usually one of these presuppositions drives one's exegesis on this issue.

    For more on this issue, I recommend D. A. Carson's book "Showing the Spirit." There is a lengthy review here.

    For a book that aims to correct both Pentecostals and cessationists from the other side of the fence there is Gordon Fee's old book "God's Empowering Presence," which I found to be a poor effort overall with some interesting propositions nonetheless (I speak a little bit about it in my blog, link is in my signature). However, Fee is coming out next month with a similar book about Paul's Christology that will include a section on the Spirit so maybe he has changed his views a little in the last decade.

    I hope that helps some,
    #2 Brandon C. Jones, Feb 14, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 14, 2007
  3. Pipedude

    Pipedude Active Member

    Apr 10, 2005
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    The idea of God's word being given today collapses upon examination. It just doesn't work. Revelations are received and they turn out to be false most of the time (when they aren't mere trivia like "love one another and the end is near").

    For me it's an empirical question. Show me a source of revelation that is as reliable as God himself and I'll buy it. Show me one that isn't as reliable and I'll make unkind jokes about it or him.

    Here's a real old one:

    Q: Why can't you play the LP of Oral Roberts' sermon?

    A: Because the little hole in the middle keeps healing up.
  4. Martin

    Martin Active Member

    Jan 1, 2005
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    ==My church is currently looking a doing a revival (of sorts) with a particular ministry. Anyway the guy heading it up came to our church back in the fall to "promote" his ministry (red flag #1). During his speech he promoted the fact that he would bring some of his books (etc) that could be purchased (red flag #2). Then he said that inspiration did not end with the Bible and that there are inspired books written today. My first reaction was to stand up and yell "heresy" but I figured that would probably not be the best approach. What I am doing, however, is that I am going to vote against this man doing any form of revival at my church. I will also speek out against this when it comes up. However I doubt anything I say will turn enough people against this. Sadly, even though my church is a Bible teaching Bible believing church, there were plenty of amens when he made the statement. However I must say that there were also plenty of us sitting there with stunned looks on our faces. I could not see my pastor so I have no idea what he was doing, but, the fact that the ministry is still coming sometime in the next year tells me that, for whatever reason, he did not see the statement as dangerous as I did.

    In my view a modern book/sermon is only valuable to Christians as it is faithful to the Word of God. Modern books/sermons are not inspired.
  5. skypair

    skypair New Member

    Jun 25, 2006
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    Here would be my comments (for what it is worth).

    Item #1 seems to be "tracking" the idea that more and more of what scripture says is being revealed "in these last days" (per Dan 12:9). I believe this. I believe the church has "evolved from Catholicism to Reform to Baptist, for instance, and all on account of the availability of scripture and the organization of the church.

    I also agree with the notion that the apostles spoke the word by the Holy Spirit which we also can do -- but it MUST agree with scriptures. Jude 3 (this is for Brandon too.) calls the scriptures "once delivered unto the saints." So one truth we can say the same things in our own terms and still be stating the "word of God."

    #2 -- None of the gifts have been lost. They have just "atrophied" by lack of necessity or place. But look, as I did recently, at healing. I believe this is carried out today as the gift of some in the church of "hospitality." What is "hospitality" but healing of the spirit and even of the body? I especially like this as I regard "fellowship" to be the context of hospitality and helps.

    #3 -- I believe we can open up the scripture that we have to many new, timely applications. I do not think this is 'new revelation' nor that there is any nr today for the very specific reason that we don't go after the worship of men.