Monday, October 28, 2013

Steve Hays on MacArthrite Cessationism

Steve Hays' Criticism of the Cessationist Position on Miracles

Steve Hays continues his fascinating attempt to convince us that the Pentecostal-Charismatic miracles today are genuine. He has implied on numerous occasions that we are wrong not to take them at their word. According to Hays, if we dare not question the miracles of Scripture, then we must extend the same respect to the "Benny Hinns" of the world today and resist the evil temptation to examine modern claims of miracle workers. Steve Hays' argument continues to place modern phenomena on par with the divine revelation of Scripture. Whatever principle I have for doubting modern claims of miracle workers and faith healers, I must also apply to Scripture, according to Hays. If I doubt the claims of Benny Hinn, then for consistency's sake, I must also doubt the claims of Jesus. If I doubt that Oral Roberts actually raised people from the dead, something he claimed to have done, then I must be soul mates with the skeptic Gotthold Lessing.

Hays' argument is more than fallacious. It is more than unsound. It is more than poisoning the well, more than ad hominem, more than a straw man. It is not even close to keeping with Christian charity. It is rude, obnoxious, disrespectful, and self-serving. But I have already discussed Hays' methods and tactics before. For some reason, Hays' thinks that when Paul demanded that Christians be kind to one another and when Peter demanded that we treat even outsiders with gentleness and respect, Hays thinks that does not apply him. For some reason, he is allowed to pull out one false analogy after another and associate God-fearing, Jesus loving, truth-embracing believers any way he pleases because they have dared to disagree with him. Sooner or later, Hays will have to give an account for his lack of respect and for associating fellow-believers with atheists and skeptics simply because they disagree with his views.

The problem with Hays' current rebuttal is that he once again thinks Scripture is on par with modern claims of supposed miracle workers. Hays points out that several miracles of Scripture are private events with no outside witnesses. He then says that we have no right to demand that the PC miracle workers perform the sort of miracles that we can verify. Why? Because no one can verify that God spoke to Moses from the burning bush but Moses. So if we take Scripture at face value, we must take Benny Hinn at face value as well. If we demand that Benny Hinn perform the sort of miracles that can be verified, then we must also make the same demand of Scripture. This is the basic thrust of Hays' argument. Now he does not use the name Benny Hinn and for good reason. It would be embarrassing. I use it for good reason: logically it is impossible not to make this conclusion if one accepts Hays' faulty premise. 

Hays thinks that by placing the demand for empirical verification on modern miracles that we undermine our ability to defend the miracles of Scripture, resulting in the entire collapse of any sort of high view of Scripture. Those idiot MacArthurites have destroyed apologetics with their strange fire nonsense, if you listen to Hays' argument. But if Hays is a true presuppositionalist, he knows better than this. He knows we presuppose the truth of Scripture and that the witness of Scripture is the Holy Spirit and therefore our belief in Scripture is a basic commitment. 

Lets take a look at one of those examples that Hays uses to prove his point. God used a burning bush to reveal Himself to Moses and to make known to Moses the high calling He had for him. No one saw it but Moses and God. But when God told Moses to go to His people, Moses reasonably asked God why the people should believe his claim. Did God leave Moses without a witness? He did not. Moses performed three miracles before the Children of Israel: the staff into a serpent, the hand of leprosy, and the water into blood. And they believed he had been sent with a message from God. Now, it seems reasonable to say that when someone performs indisputable public miracles as Moses did, it is safe to say that his version of the burning bush should be accepted as legitimate as well even if the only witness was God. Hays' analogy falls extremely short of its target.

In addition to the short rebuttal on Moses, we should also understand that no miracle of Scripture comes to us without a witness. The events of Scripture did not happen in isolation of a greater concern. They are included in Scripture for all of us. In other words, no miracle of Scripture is private. God has published them to us all. In every single case, the miracles of Scripture come with the witness of the Holy Spirit. There can be no greater witness than that. Perhaps Hays may wish to point out that unbelievers reject such an argument, but they do so upon presuppositions that we Christians reject. So now we are back to talking about presuppositions. Apparently "MacArthurite"cessationism doesn't destroy apologetics after all.

Hays is simply wrong to claim that the miracles of Scripture are private and that they are on par with modern claims of supposed miracle-workers and faith-healers. Modern claims are not the product of divine revelation. They are not witnessed by the Holy Spirit and made known to all believers. Finally, there is no empirical evidence to suggest they are in fact genuine. Additionally, Hays continues to ignore my rebuttal that demands he explain to us why it is wrong for us to scrutinze these modern claims since they stand to do great harm to the Church unless we can prove them to be legitimate.

Summary
  • The miracles of Scripture are not private contrary to Steve Hays' claim. They have been published by the Holy Spirit for all believers to see.
  • Unbelievers are obligated to believe the claims of Scripture. Therefore the miracles of Scripture serve as one more indictment upon their unbelief.
  • The Holy Spirit is witness to every miracle of Scripture. Therefore, no miracle of Scripture is private.
  • The miracles of Scripture are not on par with the modern claims of supposed miracle-workers and faith-healers. They are superior in every way.
  • There is no indication anywhere in the NT that the miracles of Christ and His followers were reasonably disputable. There is no contemporary contestation of a Biblical miracle. The Jewish conspiracy concerning the resurrection was not based on genuine doubt.
  • It is not consistent with skepticism to insist that modern claims of miracles be empirically verifiable.
  • To presuppose the truth of Scripture in all it teaches concerning miraculous events does not logically require one to presuppose the truth-claims of modern miracles.
  • To doubt the claims of modern faith-healers does not logically require one to doubt the biblical claims of faith healings.
  • Phenomena within the Biblical revelation is distinguished by the impeccable witness of the Holy Spirit and distinct from all other phenomena by the nature of God's express purpose for that revelation, which is the expression of His truth, His light, His glorious gospel to the world.
  • To claim that skepticism toward modern miraculous claims is logically equivalent to the miraculous claims of Scripture indicates that one does not accept the unique character of the self-attestation of Scripture.
  • Rejection of the self-attesting nature of Scripture is equivalent to rejecting the self-authoritative nature of Scripture. 
To accept the claims of Scripture regarding ANYTHING it says does not require that we accept similar claims of modern charismatics in any way, shape, or form. It is a fallacious argument from top to bottom. But then again, Steve Hays has posted a lot of things regarding paranormal phenomena, so I think we could be dealing with someone whose views may be shifting outside the norm of good reason and Christian orthodoxy. I am monitoring Triablogue for that very purpose. To spill so much digital ink searching for testimonies of people going to heaven and talking to Jesus, as far as I am concerned is a colossal waste of time. Let us turn our attention to the one revelation we have and learn how to handle it better, accurately, and honor God in so doing. Instead of attempting to find ways to allow for the radically subjective, and the undisciplined experiential, let us heed Paul's words to Timothy:

 "Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you." 2 Ti 1:13–14. 

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