The ongoing controversy about the special Revelatory – miracle type Spiritual Gifts for today

Wayne Grudem and Ian Hamilton debated in 2010 on the spiritual gift of prophesy for today.

I agree with Ian Hamilton.
I love Ian Hamilton’s opening statement at 14:51 –

“I am a continuationist; um, I believe in the continuing, powerful, personal, mighty, supernatural, transforming, quickening work of the Holy Spirit.”

Years ago, I read Grudem’s book on the subject of the NT gift of Prophesy, and also read his understanding of that and spiritual gifts in his otherwise excellent, Systematic Theology. Grudem’s understanding that prophecy for today is different than the prophecies of the OT prophets, which always were infallible and always come true; as in Deuteronomy 18:20, or the infallible prophecies of Jesus in the gospels or the apostles; Grudem argues that for today, it means “God bringing something to the mind of someone, that was previously unknown, but that when that person communicates it orally, he gets it garbled or some parts wrong” (and using Agabus in Acts 21:10-11 as an example of that)- this seems to me to be a very weak argument.   Hamilton shows that Grudem’s take on the gift of prophecy for today is 1.  Exegetically weak, 2.  Theologically weak and 3.  Pastorally weak.  Since about 80 % of prophetic Scripture in the OT is preaching about God and His character and about the need for repentance from sin; and only about 20 % is about future predictions; one can make the case that the NT gift of prophecy for today is “Spirit anointed preaching about God and God’s character and holiness and preaching that rebukes sin and is exposing sin in humans in order to cause repentance, and that the result of the preaching is that God is glorified and exalted”.

This is a very good article explaining what “Cessationism” is NOT.
What Cessationism is NOT. by Nathan Busenitz

see an earlier post on a debate between Michael Brown vs. Sam Waldron on the issue of the ceasing of spiritual gifts.

I agree with Sam Waldron.

On the Strange Fire conference that John MacArthur hosted, with my take on aspects of the whole Charismatic Chaos and my emphasis here in this post on the heretical teachings of Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen.

A good book on the 4 view basic views of the Miracle type Spiritual Gifts.

My view is that of what Ian Hamilton, Sam Walton, and Richard Gaffin (cessationism) in that book argue.   (and what John MacArthur and others have argued for a long time.) I used to be more open to what  Robert Saucy communicates (Open, but cautious), but practically speaking, I am a cessationist. Sam Storms is perhaps the best advocate that I have read for the continuation of the miraculous gifts. John Piper and Wayne Grudem have similar positions, but Sam Storms is more forceful in his argumentation.

The best arguments, it seems to me, for cessationism (that the apostolic miraculous revelatory gifts ceased), is that once the Scriptures were finished (Jude 3 – “the faith that was once for all time delivered to the saints”), and the office and gift of apostle ceased, (with Sam Waldron argued in his debate with Dr. Brown) there is no more need for revelation or miraculous gifts or tongues and interpretation of tongues, because the Bible is sufficient to teach us “the once for all faith that was delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Also, miraculous signs were given to authenticate the gospel message and the apostles, as in Hebrews 2:3-4 –

“how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4 God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” Hebrews 2:3-4 (my emphasis)

D.A. Carson’s book, “Showing the Spirit” is a book that, along with Storms and Piper’s argumentation, makes me struggle with defending cessationism; even though I think Cessationism is true. The hard part about defending cessationism, from just a pure exegetical case of Scriptural texts, is some of the texts that say things point blank, like “do not forbid to speak in tongues”(1 Cor. 14:39), and “earnestly desire the greater gifts” (like prophesy) (see 1 Cor. 12:31 and 14:1) – clear texts that Storms, Piper, and Grudem point out. The implication of 1 Corinthians 1:7 is that even the miraculous-type spiritual gifts will continue until the second coming of Christ.  Acts 4:29-31 is still a good prayer to pray, even for a cessationist; God can still heal and do miracles, and we still need to pray for boldness and power in witnessing and that God will take the word that we speak and transform hearts.
Busenitz gives a good summary of the different views on 1 Corinthians 13:8-12, in the article above.

A big problem with “continualism” is if a church is open to expressing these gifts or trying to actually promote them, and then someone does claim a prophesy or speak in tongues out loud, the problem is the subjective nature of people who think that they have a prophesy or special word of knowledge or word of wisdom or think they have the NT gift of speaking in tongues. For me, the “tongues” in the New Testament are real languages in the world of different ethnic people groups. That seems clear in Acts 2:6-11 and 1 Cor. 14:10-12 and 14:21 (the quote from Isaiah 28:11-12 shows it was about the Assyrians invading Israel and judging Israel. (see my discussion of this in the Strange Fire post.)

I am skeptical of all claims of prophesy and foretelling of the future; and the claim of someone having the NT gift of tongues for today. I am very skeptical of anyone who claims to have the spiritual gift of miracles or healings, as the apostles had in the gospels and Acts, and a few other believers who had these gifts.

Addendum:  August 2, 2017

A couple of other interesting links, by Tom Pennington:


About Ken Temple

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am a sinner who has been saved by the grace of God alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), through faith alone (Galatians 2:16; Romans 3:28; 4:1-16), in Christ alone (John 14:6). But a true faith does not stay alone, it should result in change, fruit, good works, and deeper levels of repentance and hatred of my own sins of selfishness and pride. I am not better than you! I still make mistakes and sin, but the Lord is working on me, conforming me to His character. (Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18) When I do sin, I hate the sin as it is an affront to God, and seek His forgiveness in repentance. (Mark 1:15; 2 Corinthians 7:7-10; Colossians 3:5-16 ) Praise God for His love for sinners (Romans 5:8), shown by the voluntary coming of Christ and His freely laying down His life for us (John 10:18), becoming flesh/human (John 1:1-5; 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8), dying for sins of people from all nations, tribes, and cultures (Revelation 5:9), on the cross, in history, rising from the dead (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 28, Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24; John 20-21; 1 Corinthians chapter 15). His resurrection from the dead proved that Jesus is the Messiah, the eternal Son of God, the word of God from eternity past; and that He was all the gospels say He was and that He is truth and the life and the way to salvation. (John 14:6)
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