Saturday, February 1, 2014
Sam Storms on Fallible Prophecy: Points 3 & 4
Third, although I realize that cessationists have a different understanding of 1 Corinthians 14:29, I believe Paul is saying here much the same thing as he said in 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22. “Weigh” (diakrino) what is said by the prophets. That is to say, sift the word and identify what is of God and what is the human and thus fallible admixture. I find it difficult to believe that Paul would have commanded this sort of assessment if all prophetic words were by definition inerrant Scripture quality revelation from God. See more here.
The general thrust of Storms’ entire argument is that he considers Paul to have modern Charismatic prophecy in view. In other words, Storms is simply assuming that his view that ancient prophecy was the same as modern prophecy is correct. But the descriptions we read in Scripture and the phenomenon we see among Charismatics are remarkably different. Modern Charismatic prophecy and prophets simply just start speaking at the slightest hint of an emotional sensation. They have no idea what is going to come out of their mouths. The rational mind is entirely suspended and replaced with a radical, mystical sensation and they just begin to prophesy.
Second, there is no indication in this text that the prophets are prophesying. Storms simply assumes this to be the case. There is no reason for this assumption other than his desire to grasp for something to prove his case. Paul informs the Church to have the prophets speak, one at a time, and then that their sermon is to be judged for its faithfulness to the truth they have received from the apostles and their associates.
Third, there is no indication in this context that Paul is dealing with the more narrow use of prophecy. Rather, it seems clear that he is dealing with preaching, proclaiming, teaching, and exhorting. He uses the words μανθάνω (manthano) and παρακαλέω (parakaleo) which means to learn and to be encouraged. There is no indicating that he has forth telling the future in mind whatsoever. In addition, how could anyone ever judge whether new revelation was right or wrong unless he or she compared it to what had already been revealed. How could we know that predictive personal prophecy was from God? If the event were not going to happen for years, we would simply have to wait. We could not scrutinize or examine it for years to come. However, if these speeches were objective truth claims, then the ability to examine them in light of previously given revelation would be possible.
Fourth, in 1 Corinthians 14:30-31 Paul writes: “If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged.” Paul appears to be indifferent toward the possibility that the first prophecy might be lost and never heard by the church.
Storms again assumes that this revelation that has been revealed to someone takes the shape of modern claims. There is no reason to think this is the case. The ancient form of revelation seems radically different from modern claims. In modern Pentecostalism, the experience is one of a radically heightened emotion. This does not at all come into view when one examines the more detailed accounts of revelation in Scripture.
The emphasis in this text is clearly on the order of the service and the avoidance of confusion. Apparently, when the first prophet was speaking, or even perhaps prophesying, a second would just jump in and begin to do his thing as well. Paul’s concern about order and his point out that God is a God of order indicates that the typical ancient patter was not being honored. The idea that the first prophet could not resume when the second prophet had finished, and that such a position by Paul indicated some sort of disregard for the authority of the prophetic words being uttered is sheer conjecture. Paul’s point that the Spirit of the prophets are subject to the prophets contradicts Storms assertion directly.
Finally, Sorms’ view that subjecting ancient prophecy to scrutiny makes is less than the Word of God encapsulated in Scripture is just plain wrong. In order to illustrate why I think this is the case, we may turn to other sections of Scripture that indicate clear why I think this to be the case. Acts 17:11 is a perfect example for this discussion and it alone is sufficient to demonstrate my assertion. Luke tells us that the Jews at Berea were more noble minded than the Jews at Thessalonica because they scrutinized Paul’s gospel proclamation by examining his arguments in light of the Old Testament revelation. The idea that we do not judge the assertions and claims of men when they say they speak for God is utterly ridiculous. Even the proclamations and arguments of Paul were judged according to prior revelation. This did not make those words any less authoritative at all. Is simply means that God is a rational God and He has not left us without a standard by which we can know when He is speaking and when He is not.
Storms’ argument cannot see the forest for the trees. He enters the conversation with a bias against the cessationist position. I was saved in the Pentecostal churches. I was a licensed minister in the Church of God in Cleveland, TN. I come to this subject with both an experiential and theological perspective. I know what Pentecostal prophecy looks like. I have experienced the experience they claim is God revealing things to them. It is highly subjective and arbitrary. It is driven by pure emotion. Angels are not standing in front of them talking to them. God is not appearing to them in dreams. They have dreams that they claim are from God but the truth is they could just as much be from Papa John’s Pizza. There is no way to really tell. When we compare modern claims with ancient facts, the two are remarkably different. Give me Scripture, give me grace to understand it, give me grace to live it and I shall know Him and the power of His resurrection. Then and only then will my soul be satisfied!