Monday, April 30, 2007

Conference on the Holy Spirit: Tongues Are Probably the Only Issue

Alan Cross has posted his reflections upon the recent Baptist Conference on the Holy Spirit (see here). In his post, Alan expressed some surprise at the different ways that conference speakers interpreted the assignment:

Dr. Sam Storms and I were asked to defend the Continualist position. Bart Barber and Robin Foster were asked to defend the Cessationist position. Unless they got more detailed instructions that we got, the results were very interesting. Without collusion, Dr. Storms and I both defended the idea that all of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit are for today, including speaking in tongues. We each talked about tongues, but they were minor parts of our presentations, as they should be. Bart and Robin both focused on tongues almost exclusively. Again, they might have had more detailed instructions, but I wonder if they did that because the main issue for many cessationists or semi-cessationists is tongues? To me, tongues are not the big deal - they are just one of many gifts. For others, including the trustees of the IMB, it seems to be THE issue. That was educational.
I am encouraged to see Alan post these words. Yes, tongues is the issue. Why? Because we are not really in disagreement anywhere else. Dr. Storms's handout 12 Bad Reasons for Being a Cessationist includes the following:
An eighth bad reason for being a Cessationist is the argument that since we typically don't see today miracles or gifts equal in quality/intensity to those in the ministries of Jesus and the Apostles, God doesn't intend for any miraculous gifts of a lesser quality/intensity to operate in the church among ordinary Christians.
Additionally, as a clarifying comment, Dr. Storms noted that he believed that even cessationists believed in the continuation of the sign gifts, but just refused to give them those names. Dr. Storms noted, for example, the way that Christians will observe the leadership of God giving them just the right words to say in prayer or in counsel to another person, identifying that with the "word of knowledge" gift (if I recall correctly). Frankly, if Dr. Storms, Alan, and their tribe are willing to make that concession, then we are not in disagreement. This distinction I think clears up a lot of our prior confusion, particularly (as Robin Foster has noted here) the way that people falsely allege that folks like Robin and myself deny the continued miraculous activity of God. Of course, we do no such thing. Rather, I suppose that we just have a higher threshold at which we begin to refer to something as a miraculous spiritual gift. Consider, for example, healing miracles. I see three categories in the New Testament.
  1. There is the kind of healing that pertains only to individuals in the churches possessing "gifts of healings" (1 Cor 12:28-30). The text explicitly notes that not everyone possesses this gift.
  2. There is another kind of healing that pertains to particular Christians by office, particularly to the elders (James 5:14-15). This kind of healing seems perhaps to be tied specifically to sickness that is chastisement for sins committed.
  3. A third kind of healing pertains to all believers (James 5:16-20). This is the same context as the second category, and likewise appears to deal with sin-precipitated sickness.
I have noted in the past particularly what Dr. Storms may be conceding in this point—that nobody is instantaneously healing the blind or restoring paralytics today. Nevertheless, I have seen miraculous gradual healing in my own family in response to "the effective prayer of a righteous man." I don't know anyone arguing against the continuation of this kind of healing. Therefore, if Alan and Dr. Storms are not arguing for the continuation of New Testament era Eutychus-raised-from-the-dead grade miracles, but are merely arguing that God still heals people, then not only am I in agreement with them, but also I know no Christian who disagrees with them. We might differ among ourselves as to whether such activity rises to the level to deserve categorization as the gift of healing, but isn't that perhaps a distinction without a difference? So, if I understand Dr. Storms correctly, then tongues is indeed the only area in which we differ. In that category, our differences are not only with regard to quality/intensity, but also with regard to nature. Is the primary nature of the gift of tongues xenoglossy (the miraculous speaking of human languages foreign to the speaker) or ecstatic utterance? I was glad to hear Dr. Storms assert that the biblical gift of tongues is linguistic. What I would be interested to read is analysis from a linguist to counter the classic analysis of William. J. Samarin, confirmed several times over by other experiments, concluding that modern so-called speaking in tongues is entirely non-linguistic. Dr. Storms and I agree that the biblical gift of tongues, whether it consist of tongues of men or of angels, must be linguistic. Careful analysis has determined that the modern practice is not linguistic. Thus, it is not the biblical gift of tongues.

70 comments:

Grosey's Messages said...

Well said there Bart.
I guess the problem is that the folks presenting for the continualist position do so in a historical vacuum.
My understanding of the cessationist position comes from reading Warfield's "Counterfeit Miracles". He doesn't deny the existence in the post New testament era of various authentic spiritual gifts, he coined "cessationism" concerning those gifts that have been "counterfeited" and differ from those evident in New Testament times. His claim is that some gifts (not all gifts) had a purely first century purpose.
To claim that cessationists believe all gifts have ceased is just ignorance. I know of no cessationist that holds that position.

However,I would disagree in only one part there Bart, and that is that I have witnessed a paralytic healed almost instantaneously (within a few hours) after I prayed and laid hands on her in the hospital. I do not claim that as a "gift of healing" but rather in concord with the James 5 references you mentioned. She was released from hospital 12 months early (the very next day).
Thank you for your gracious and well presented arguments Bart.
Every Blessing,
Steve

Jack Maddox said...

Bart

This is what I tried to point out throughout the conference. This conference was not about the Holy Spirit per se, more so than it was a discussion of the gifts of the Spirit. And the issue is TONGUES! This was made abundantly clear when many testified to the unjust nature of the IMB and NAMB policies on private prayer language. I stated many times in private conversations that the issue is tongues and more specifically the nature of tongues in the NT. It is my contention that misuse of the gift of tongues has done much to divide the body of Christ. However, I will add that I do not feel that the folks I met with at Cornerstone are trying to be divisive...it is just the nature of this conversation. One would wonder who it is making much of a manifestation of a gift that Paul himself said we should not major on. I do believe that this is a local church issue and that as Baptist we should practice grace where we disagree, however I also believe that Southern Baptist have the right to decide what the qualifications for missionary service are. As was stated at this conference...folks need to go to the convention.

Jack Maddox

SWBTS Student said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bro. Robin said...

Bart

Thanks for the post. The issue is tongues as was stated by many at the conference.

volfan007 said...

swbts student,

have you ever seen anyone raised from the dead? i havent either. but, i do believe with all of my heart that God can raise the dead if He so desires.

to all,

i agree with yall that this was a conference on tongues....to try to make it more acceptable in the sbc. that really seems to be what it was all about from what i'm hearing. also, i agree with jack that tongues has caused much division in many churches.... a lot of churches. in fact, it seems that whenever people get into tongue speaking, that trouble is not far behind. that's what i've observed thru the years.

david

Pastor John said...

I have had this type of experience myself. I consider myself a cessationist because of the tounges issue. Recently I met a guy who is a continuist & out of a genuine desire to understand, began questioning me about it.
Most of his questions focused on healing, leading of the spirit & things like that.
I too focused the discussion mainly on tounges, which surprisingly he also agreed was not a valid gift today.
After this discussion, I thought a lot about my position - especially how that position is expressed. I can understand how continualists could see us as denying all work of the HS today.
I also believe that this view is our fault, as we have been too vauge in our definition of cessationism. Conversations like the ones I had with my new friend and you had with Mr. Cross are invaluable, as they do allow us to clarify what each position believes, and see that we really aren't too far apart from each other.

Todd Pylant said...

Bart,
I enjoyed meeting you at the conference, and I enjoyed your presentation, too. Your knowledge of church history, and your fair and objective presentation, was informative. I did have a few concerns and observations.

First, I agree with the observation that one man made during the Q/A time that cessationists do not deny the miraculous hand of God. Continuationists are guilty of painting that picture. We do need to unify around our common belief that our supernatural God continues to do supernatural things in response to our prayers, the most significant of which is giving new birth, redemption, and the ongoing work of sanctification.

Second, there are serious disagreements about the nature of tongues. From the way I read the Bible, tongues is exstatic utterance and not a previously unknown language to the speaker for the purpose of evangelism. I will not convince you, and you will not convice me.

Third, you made the statement in your presentation that we all have many freedoms that we are free to excercise but that we can't expect others to pay for. True, but part of the money that you are talking about (the pool of CP funds) is mine, too. The implication of your presentation is that continuationists are free to fund mission sending agencies that would send continuationist missionaries, but continuationists cannot expect the SBC to use CP funds to send continuationist missionaries. If that is true, the only option is for continuationist to stop sending their mission money to the CP and to send it somewhere else. I must ask you, how long should my church continue to send money to a mission sending agency that would not appoint their own pastor to the mission field? If you are saying to continuationists, "If you don't like the policies, then take your money elsewhere or keep quiet," then at some point in time, that will happen.

But, I hope there is a solution where we can keep continuationists and cessationists in the same denomination. Dr. Luter's presentation was insightful about what must happen in order for this type of cooperation to happen.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Bart, I comment as an outside observer who is following this issue and as one who did not attend the conference. In my opinion you are correct -- the real (at least main) issue is tongues.

Awhile back I queried Alan about this. On Wes Kenney's blog he wrote: "Even if I never see a miracle (and I have seen MANY)...I have seen the things that you and Bart say God is not doing anymore." My questions to Alan and others who are saying this is "would you clarify what kinds of miracles you have seen? would you clarify what you mean by 'miracles'?" I just don't know anyone who is doing or is seeing immediate and complete healing of blindness, broken limbs, erc. via the laying on of hands, folks drinking poison without harm, casting out devils and raising the dead. If this is what they mean let them clarify. If it is not what they mean, the issue probably is tongues and maybe a few other minor issues. I don't think that something (i.e. special miracles) does not exist simply because I haven't seen it. But I feel that many people who speak of miracles still going today on usually mean something more like healing in answer to prayer.

You mention the issue that the biblical gift of tongues must be linguistic. Have you read D. A. Carson's "Showing the Spirit" (commentary on I Cor. 12-14)? He makes an argument that there could be languages unknown to us that are not linguistic in our sense of understanding language (or something like that; it's been a long time since I read it). I didn't/don't agree with him, but as usual with Carson, it is a carefully crafted and well written argument.

Re grosey's comment that he knows of no cessationist that believes all gifts have ceased. There are some. I was raised with that idea (though it can be argued that they didn't hold it consistently). The teaching was that gifts ceased with the completion of the Bible and "now abideth faith, hope and charity; these three" (and these three only). I don't hold that position. My teachers/mentors also held that there are NO miracles today. Yet they did believe in healing in answer to prayer. Here we may get into semantics, or as you say, some folks having a higher threshold at which they refer to as a miracle. Their point was that healing in answer to prayer was a "common" way God was working rather than a "special miracle" in the New Testament sense.

I think 'swbts student' confuses the issue by arraying what God can do against what He is doing. I know of no one who is arguing that God is unable to raise the dead today. Who knows to whom He may have given back life from the dead? But I don't think He has given any individual living at present the ability to do so.

Bart, do you know if Sam Storms has made his handout on "12 Bad Reasons" available on the www?

Ultimately, it may be that most continuationists and most cessationists are not, for all practical purposes, that far apart except on the tongues issue???

Lee said...

I appreciated your presentation. I have an interest in, and appreciation for church history, and was glad to see that brought into the discussion. So many times, the past that has had an effect on who we are today isn't given much consideration.

I must say that I very much tend to agree with the continualist position as articulated at this particular conference by Alan Cross and Sam Storms. There is clearly a presence of such individuals in the SBC. Why should they, who are contributors to the Cooperative Program, be denied the opportunity to serve as missionaries or on trustee boards?

I'll allow for the fact that Southern Baptists have a right to determine who serves as missionaries, and the doctrinal positions required for them to hold in order to serve. We have a document that, as a convention, we've agreed upon to use in this manner. It's called "The Baptist Faith and Message."

Allowing trustee boards to go further than this step in determining doctrinal requirements takes this process out of the hands of Southern Baptists. Trustee boards can be manipulated and stacked with people who represent one position. And Southern Baptists, even those who attend the convention, don't have much say in who is selected as a trustee, other than a floor vote to approve the whole slate at one time, which is, IMHO, one of many flaws in the system by which they are chosen. As I said at the conference, if continualists are helping the SBC send missionaries and pay the bills, they should be allowed to serve as missionaries and trustees. If they are not welcome, then their contributions shouldn't be accepted, either.

Debbie said...

"Additionally, as a clarifying comment, Dr. Storms noted that he believed that even cessationists believed in the continuation of the sign gifts, but just refused to give them those names. Dr. Storms noted, for example, the way that Christians will observe the leadership of God giving them just the right words to say in prayer or in counsel to another person, identifying that with the "word of knowledge" gift (if I recall correctly)."

I agree with Dr. Storms statement. In fact that is one thing that he said that has stuck in my mind. I appreciate that he reminded us of this fact.

Debbie said...

Amen Lee. Another fact is there are those of us such as Lee and my church who contribute to the CP fund and want to pay for people such as Dr. McKissic, Jason Epp etc. We would be all the more effective with men and women such as this in the SBC along with those who hold your view Bart.

volfan007 said...

i would like to respectfully ask all the continualists in here....can any of you raise the dead?


david

Todd Pylant said...

I don't see "raising the dead" in the list of spiritual gifts.

Todd Pylant said...

...and one day I very much hope to be "raised from the dead"

volfan007 said...

todd,

did not the apostles raise people from the dead? has the gift of apostleship ended.....ceased? can people not be raised from the dead anymore...like in the nt times? has that ceased? i would be very interested hearing your reply.

david

Lee said...

volfan007,
Did all the apostles raise someone from the dead?

What does that have to do with the continualist position?

Les Puryear said...

Bart,

I believe you're right that the main issue is "tongues." Would you expand a bit more on your explanation of tongues being linguistic?

Lee,

Amen, brother!

Les

volfan007 said...

lee,

is there one today who has raised anyone from the dead, or who has that ability like in nt times? or, has that ceased?

david

Alan Cross said...

Bart,

Thanks for linking to my post. I enjoyed our time together and look forward to much more fruitful discussion in the future. Again, I enjoyed your presentation. You did a great job with it, even though I disagreed with you. And, thank you for trying to find common ground here. I clearly agree with you that we have enough that I want to continue to work with you. I am grateful that you are looking for common ground as well.

To explain why we didn't focus on tongues initially, the classical cessationist position is that the sign gifts have ceased. Perhaps you and Robin do not believe that, or you look at the occurence of miracles in a different way, so I want to be fair to what your actual positions are. You are both different and have much nuance to your position. When I was asked to define and defend the continualist/continuationist position, I had a pretty good idea what that entailed in contrast with the cessationist position. The whole argument is much larger than tongues, that is why I focused on that, not because I wanted to say that you, Robin, or anyone else in particular did not believe that God still worked miraculously today. The issue is, does He do it through gifted people or just in answer to prayer? I really don't care how it happens, honestly, but that is a significant issue that is a whole other discussion, but surely not one worth dividing over.

So, I guess that we are in the position where tongues is the issue, which is sad. Despite what David said, no one in the SBC was dividing over tongues until this happened. A self fulfilling prophecy has occured: "Tongues are divisive, therefore we must get rid of them." Then, people get upset about the policies and protest. Then, the policy writers say, "See, we told you tongues were divisive!!!!" It is pitiful logic.

I have seen people remarkably healed, demons cast out, and miracles occur. I have not seen the dead raised or the blind receive sight, although I do not doubt the occurence of such things when I hear about them in house churches in China or other places. I don't doubt because I truly believe that the Bible does not say these things will cease. Our belief in Scripture should not be based on our experience or our lack thereof.

I actually cannot believe that we are having discussion in Baptist life over how to interpret Scripture based on experience or lack of experience. I thought we were Word based. I thought that only crazy charismatics let experience dictate belief. So, I obviously believe that the historical argument is invalid as well.

Regarding tongues, we have been round and round on this and we must agree to disagree regarding their nature. I was so relieved when you said that each side can use the same hermeneutical approach and come out with the answers that they went in with. Thank you for that. That perspective leads us back to the idea of presuppositions, however. What presuppositions do we bring to the text? Where do they come from? What are our influences? How do we work through those to get to absolute truth? I believe that cessationists work from a modernistic, scientific presupposition when it comes to this. Things like tongues, miracles, healings, and spiritual warfare are looked upon with suspicion because they do not fit the rationalistic perspective that we take to Scripture and our spiritual experience. I am all for objective truth as revealled in Scripture, but when Scripture speaks of these things clearly, we must at some point leave our rationalism at the door and simply believe.

I choose to believe and you choose not to. Therein lies the root of our differences. Now, should that choice eliminate people from missionary service? And, if so, should approximately 45 trustees elected by the SBC without knowledge of their position on this issue, have the ability to make such a sweeping and consequential judgment?

Bart Barber said...

SWBTS Student,

I apologize. Your confusion at this point is at least partly due to the fact that I have not yet restored to this blog my past entry affirming the idea of praying for people to be raised from the dead. You do greatly err when you not only assume but also accuse that I am opposed to such.

However, I am also in favor of honesty about the results.

I reject the words that you put into my mouth "(almost as if to say that they cannot)." I'll speak for myself, thank you very much.

Bart Barber said...

Steve,

Thank you, brother. We are in agreement.

Bart Barber said...

Jack,

I thought you did a great job pointing it out. Keep on pointing it out, brother.

Bart Barber said...

Pastor John,

Thanks for the comment and for stopping by.

Bart Barber said...

Todd,

Yours is such a good question that I intend to dedicate an entire post to it.

Bart Barber said...

R. L.,

I find Carson's argument unconvincing. The linguistic problems include not only the apparent non-linguistic-ness of tongues-speaking, but also the total similarity of Christian tongues-speaking with non-Christian tongues-speaking. In other words, if Christian glossolalia were simply linguistic of another order (the linguistics of angels?), then shouldn't they be at least slightly different from ecstatic utterances produced in voodoo ceremonies?

Bart Barber said...

Les,

An utterance is "linguistic" if it can be classified as "language." In other words, phonological units (syllables, words) encoding certain propositional meanings by arrangement into syntax according to a grammar.

As I (partly) illustrated at the conference, the Gettysburg Address is linguistic, while Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Torme performing scat is non-linguistic. Both are vocal utterances. Both serve some sort of purpose. Only one is language.

Bart Barber said...

Alan,

You said, "I actually cannot believe that we are having discussion in Baptist life over how to interpret Scripture based on experience or lack of experience. I thought we were Word based. I thought that only crazy charismatics let experience dictate belief. So, I obviously believe that the historical argument is invalid as well."

We are not having any kind of discussion over how to interpret Scripture; we are having a discussion over how to interpret people's alleged experiences. Is something the work of the Holy Spirit simply because someone claims that it is?

Debbie said...

Bart:We are not having any kind of discussion over how to interpret Scripture; we are having a discussion over how to interpret people's alleged experiences.

Forgive me for jumping in here, but we are having a discussion on how to interpret scripture. It's the scripture that is being used to interpret the experiences.

When one becomes a Christian and this is supernatural, we are cleansed, a new creation according to Paul. Why is this not questioned? It's experience and scriptural. I believe this to be the same concerning the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It's more than do we believe it just because someone says so. Of course not. I believe it because scripture says so.

GuyMuse said...

Interesting post and comments. Wish I could have been at the conference to hear personally the various presentations.

I submit that tongues are probably NOT the only issue, rather, the language employed and theological jargon we use to describe and define the various gifts is the source of the differences amongst us.

Frank Viola, in his book, "Knowing Christ Together," states that much controversy between believers over the gifts of the Spirit can be contributed to conflicting theological conversational styles. Two believers may actually have similar beliefs but becasue they employ a different theological jargon, they often mistakenly conclude that each others beliefs and experiences are worlds apart.

This is a subject of much interest to me personally. Earlier today I blogged about this very issue of the language we employ being at the heart of the debate about gifts.

Alan Cross said...

Bart, you said, "We are not having any kind of discussion over how to interpret Scripture; we are having a discussion over how to interpret people's alleged experiences. Is something the work of the Holy Spirit simply because someone claims that it is?"

Are we not also having a discussion over how to interpret people's lack of experience then as well? How many times have I heard, "If this is really happening, then why have I not seen it?" I read the Bible and I believe that it says that these things will continue. I believe it whether I see it or not, thus, I live by faith rather than by sight. I do not give people false hope or condemn them if there are not healings or if they do not speak in tongues. We have gone through a terrible ordeal with our son in cancer. I assure you that we believed God, but I assume that God had another purpose besides healing. I am alright with that.

No, I do believe that the heart of this issue is whether or not we will let the Word speak, or whether we will bring our experiences, or lack thereof, to the Word. And, in saying that, I do not doubt that people believe the Bible. I just think that most have not considered the implications of a cessationist view on these things. That's what I'm here for! :)

By the way, discussing whether tongues is a human language or spiritual one is valid to me. In that regard, people are really trying to carry out what they see the Scripture saying. I can disagree with them because I think that they are wrong, but that has nothing to do with what I was saying previously. But, the arguments from lack of experience are not acceptable in my opinion because they go beyond Scripture. But, I also believe that the end of Mark is authoritative as well . . . so, you can just call me one of those crazy inerrantists! :)

volfan007 said...

again, i respect the continualist view...i dont agree with it totally. i love those of you who are continualists.

again, i still have not heard of one apostle who can raise the dead in our day and time.

also, if there are any apostles out there, then please call me. i will pay for your plane ticket and hotel and food for you to come to memphis. i will personally take you to st. jude hospital and lehboneur hospital for children so that you can clear these hospitals out. there are many children there who are hurting very badly. since apostles have the ability to heal the sick....please let me know.

in love,

david

Alan Cross said...

David,

As I have said, I know all about the suffering that goes on in places like St. Jude. I would change it if I could as well. Answer me this: How many times did Jesus walk through the Gate Beautiful into the Temple area? How many times did the Apostles do it? But, on a certain day, Peter, obviously led by the Holy Spirit looked at a man who had been lame from birth and coming there for some time. Clearly Jesus and the Apostles had walked past him and not healed him. Why? Why this day instead of the others? Maybe God has a bigger plan than just giving out automatic healing tokens to people to cash in through their "gifts" whenever they want. When God does heal through prayer or through the operation of spiritual gifts, He still does it as He pleases. I have seen and experienced many healings and miracles that have occurred in answer to prayer and the laying on of hands. Does it happen everytime? Of course not. And, it is not something that you can control. It happens as God wills it.

You can say that is just answer to prayer. Fine. But, I do know that some people are more effective in praying for healing than others. I have seen that too. So what shall we conclude? I believe that God is still giving out gifts to His people, just as the Bible describes. I have also seen it in operation. You disagree and that is fine. The bigger question is, why can't we cooperate in missions together? Are you afraid that continualist missionaries will go crazy on the mission field where they are out of reach and control of the IMB BoT?

Colin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alan Cross said...

Colin,

I wasn't saying that Bart did not believe the Bible. I readily admit that he does and I have a great deal of respect for him, Robin, and others. I was actually trying to quote Bart himself. At the conference he said, regarding tongues, that you couldn't get the proper answer from hermeneutics alone. People generally come out of the discussion with the same perspective that they come in with. That would mean that our presuppositions are guiding us. He actually said that some believe that what is happening today is genuine and biblical and that he does not. I was trying to agree with Bart's own statments, not run him down or claim that he is being unbiblical. I have no doubt that Bart attempts with every fiber in his being to be Biblical, as does Robin. But, I do too. We have different interpretations. Maybe I am wrong on this and I can live with that. But, I don't think that my interpretation is so far out in left field that there is not room for it on the mission field. That is what this is about.

If I have to show what I believe are the implications of cessationist theology to make my point, I will. But, let it be forever said that I in no way question the faith or desire for Biblical fidelity of Bart, Robin, and others. I have a GREAT deal of respect for them, which is why I labor to engage them on this issue. We actually agree on most other issues.

Colin said...

Interesting Acts 19:11, where Luke differentiates between "normal" and "extraordinary miracles" in this literal rendition:

And God did not the ones that are normal miracles by the hands of Paul, or "not normal" miracles. I wonder if that is applicable here.

So, what am I trying to say? <disclaimer- I am not a cessationist> When a continuationalist creates a position paper or apologetic sermon for his view, the majority of the time they list a whole bunch of biblical evidence for things many cessationists already believe, giving their argument a "biblical weight" assumed not to be present in the cessationist view. But when boiled down, I think it primarily has to do with tongues, modern spoken prophecy from God through men, and claims of extraordinary miracles as commonplace in the Christian ministry.

Where do we start? In my opinion to escape the difference of definition and semantic barriers, it is altogether fitting and proper to begin with the difference between the accounts in the gospels and Acts versus now. There is obviously a difference. What are those differences, and why do they exist? If the miracles were signs in Acts, they would be signs today. Therefore, experience in witnessing these signs is a completely legitimate factor in theological intepretation of the gifts today. From there, I think we would have the proper foundation to address the camps' differing view on tongues.

To accuse one side or the other as one who does not believe the whole counsel of God is unhelpful and untrue. It is not a matter of quantity or quality of belief, but what that belief is.

Anyways, this may or may not be a helpful approach, but they are the primary issues as I see them.

Colin said...

Alan,

I reposted because I misunderstood your statement I referenced (I think), and to clarify that most of my comment was a general one addressed to no one in particular. Please accept my apologies (though it breaks a blogger rule to apologize).

Colin

Grosey's Messages said...

well said Colin, thank you for your understanding.
Steve

Bart Barber said...

Debbie,

But in your example of salvation, it is questioned, and frequently. You've never had anyone offer a profession of faith that turned out to be evidently a false profession?

Bart Barber said...

Alan,

I suppose that your critique is a valid one, assuming:

First, that one sees in the Bible not only the possibility that all of the spiritual gifts would continue, but further the requirement that all of the spiritual gifts must be present at all times. In such a case, I can see why one would be strongly compelled toward the Charismatic Landmarkism I mentioned at the conference.

Second, that I am arguing against the possibility of tongues-speaking in general in the present era, or have taken some Martin Luther at the Diet or Worms type stand against the existence of tongues in our world today. Yet I am not so much arguing from a lack of experience against the possibility of tongues as I am arguing from plenty of experience against what is asserted as being glossolalia from being the biblical phenomenon.

Robin Foster had a good bit of experience of the phenomenon the other night, and at close hand! Maybe we ought to ask him for his evaluation. Would that be an argument from lack of experience? :-)

Bart Barber said...

Colin,

I agree. Thanks for saying it so well. Dr. Storms's "12 Bad Reasons" (now up over at Wade Burleson's place) is a prime example of the phenomenon you have identified.

Sam Storms said...

Bart,

I appreciate your interaction on this important issue and your kind and humble attempt to work for unity.

Let me add a few words of clarification that I hope will help advance our dialogue.

First, I think it is misleading for anyone to speak of “THE gift of healing” as if a person, whether in the first century or today, possesses at all times the Spirit-imparted power to heal anyone and everyone of all disease at any and all times. No one in the NT did this, not even Jesus, and certainly not Paul (as is evident from his own thorn in the flesh, as well as the condition of Timothy, Trophimus, and Epaphroditus). As you properly noted, Paul speaks of “gifts [plural] of healings [plural].” What I think he means is that anyone may receive from the Spirit, according to the Spirit’s will (1 Cor. 12:11), a gift for a healing. I’ve been used on a few occasions in this way, but I would never lay claim to possess “the gift of healing” as if to say I can heal anyone at any time of any disease. That is always subject to the sovereign will of God.

In a related vein, I think it unwise to draw too rigid of a distinction between what Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 12 and what James describes in chapter five of his letter. Could it not be the case that what we see in James 5 is a convergence in that moment of the gift of faith and a gift for healing that, in conjunction with the sick man’s repentance of sin, results in his healing? We shouldn’t require that James use the vocabulary of 1 Corinthians 12 in order to describe the reality of what Paul had in mind.

Second, you suggest that perhaps we agree on everything regarding miraculous spiritual gifts except for our difference of opinion on the nature of tongues. Perhaps. But I suspect we would hold different opinions on the nature and operation of so-called revelatory gifts such as prophecy and word of knowledge. I do believe that God still speaks today beyond the written text of Scripture but always in perfect harmony with the Bible. As you know, I do not believe that this in any way threatens or undermines either the finality or sufficiency of the inspired and inerrant biblical text.

Third, I think it is misleading to continue using the word “ecstatic” to describe tongues speech. As you know, this word is not used in the NT to describe tongues, but does appear in certain English translations. I do not believe that tongues are ever “ecstatic”, if by that one means that the speaker loses control or is not able to start and stop tongues speech at will, or that the speaker enters into an altered state of consciousness. In 1 Cor. 14 Paul clearly envisions the tongues speaker as in complete control of his/her gifting and fully capable of abiding by the regulations he gives for how the gift should be exercised in the public assembly (namely, only with interpretation).

Fourth, and finally, yes I believe that all tongues are “linguistic” in nature. What I mean by that is that all tongues speech has structure such that it bears meaning and cognitive content. When one reads 1 Corinthians 14, it is clear that Paul envisions tongues speech as involving prayer and praise and the giving of thanks, whether that be in private or in public (with interpretation). Where I think the confusion comes in is in saying that if tongues are fundamentally “linguistic” that they must necessarily be human languages. But surely angels communicate among themselves in languages that are appropriate to their nature and context. There is “linguistic” form to their speech in the sense that what they “say” is meaningful and bears cognitive content. Whether or not it is similar to human language is something we can’t know. My argument is simply that tongues speech is not meaningless gibberish or “ecstatic” babbling but contains and communicates meaningful truth unknown to the speaker (unless, of course, God gifts someone with interpretation of what is being said, in the absence of which tongues speech should be confined to one’s private prayer life).

So, in conclusion, the fact that the research of William Samarin and other linguists has demonstrated that modern tongues speech is not linguistic in the sense that it bears little resemblance to “human” languages is no argument against the possibility that what is happening is akin to the “linguistic” structure of speech found among the angels or speech that is distinctly spiritual and heavenly and uniquely suited for communion between God and his people.

I hope this helps clarify what I believe. Blessings!

volfan007 said...

alan,

again, respectfully, i must say that if an apostle were still around today that he ought to be able to heal on command and he ought to be able to raise the dead on command. that's what the nt apostles were able to do. they had that ability given to them by God in order to get the church going, and to show that they had the authority to direct it with thier teachings, and to write the nt.
acts 2:43............ 2 corinthians 2:12....
acts 5:12.....
eph. 2:20...

where are the apostles today if the continualist view is correct? i dont see them anywhere, alan. if there are apostles, why dont we see them?

in love,

david

volfan007 said...

sam,

thanks for wieghing in here. i respect your view, yet i'm afraid that i must disagree with you.

so, let me get this straight, you are saying that only certain people can be healed on command, and it's determined how? who, and by what way, do you determine who can be healed and at what time? how do you know when it's time to heal someone?

david

R. L. Vaughn said...

OK, Bart, I must know even if it is somewhat off topic -- what is Charismatic Landmarkism? Thanks a million.

SWBTS Student said...

Bart,

I apologize for reading into what you were saying. Knowing that you were not explicitly saying this, I asked you the clarifying question revealing that I was seeking to understand your statement("Am I correct in assuming this?"). I apologize for my lack of tact especially given the seriousness of the statement that you made.

On the other hand, this seems to be a subject where people too often deny the results because this is foreign to most of our experience as Western Christians. For that reason, "I am also in favor of honesty about the results."

Again, I apologize and thank you for dispelling any inaccurate portrayal however inadvertent it was.

A Simple Student @ SWBTS

Bart Barber said...

Dr. Storms,

I will endeavor to reply point-for-point.

First, point well taken, although I think that I have been careful not to use the terminology that you are correcting.

Regarding your "related vein", although I mentioned the sin context in passing regarding James 5, the major distinction I was trying to make regarded not the cause of the sickness but the agent who is able to exercise the healing power. In 1 Corinthians, the emphasis seems to be upon particular people without regard to office but with regard to giftedness. In James 5, the first portion clearly refers to a specific role for elders only, while the last portion articulates a reciprocal role for all believers. I do not believe that it violates any valid hermeneutical principles for us to consider these factors in attempting to derive a systematic theology from these texts.

Second, I have drawn my conclusions specifically from things you had to say at the conference about the "word of knowledge" gift. We may indeed differ at this point—I don't know. Perhaps we ought to pursue the conversation further at this point in the future?

Third, the problem of terminology is a difficult one, I admit. I continue a personal quest for langauge by which I can refer to the modern practice without on the one hand assuming in the very terminology that the present practice is identical with the biblical practice and without on the other hand falling into Anselmian unwieldiness of speech ("that than which nothing greater can be conceived"). Perhaps by word of knowledge the Lord would reveal to me a brief-yet-accurate descriptor compatible with my conclusions.

Alan Cross said...

Bart,

I so appreciate you desire for dialogue. It is always refreshing and I am encouraged that my iron is regularly sharpened against your own. May God bless you for hosting these discussions.

I am not saying that all of the gifts have always been at work at all times during the Church Age. We don't know, as Dr. Storms said, what was happening in a village church in France in 687. If people do not know that gifts exist or if they are not taught to believe God for them, then I doubt that they will happen. 1 Cor. 14:1 tells us to eagerly desire the greater gifts, and 1 Cor. 14:12 says that we are to "try to excel in gifts that build up the church." Just as much true teaching and practice was lost from the church for over a thousand years, I do not doubt that, at times, these practices were lost as well. That really has little to do with our present situation.

Secondly, as far as what is happening today, I do think that much of it is the biblical gift of tongues, whether it is being used correctly or not. The woman next to Robin should have kept silent. It was distracting and an unbeliever would have thought her mad. But, I do not necessarily believe that she was not worshipping God with her spirit. Of course, I was not able to do a linguistic analysis of her speech, so I am limited. :)

David,

I am still confused. Where do you see Jesus and the Apostles just healing everyone on command? Jesus only did what he saw the Father doing. The Apostles healed and raised the dead, but it was not their work, it was by the Holy Spirit. There are many testimonies of people being raised from the dead today. There are many testimonies of miracles and healings today. You do not believe that there are modern day apostles anyway, so I fail to understand what you are really getting at. It seems to be a circular argument: "There are no modern day apostles, therefore there are no current sign gifts. There are no current sign gifts, therefore, there are no current apostles." If you step into that circle, David, you'll never get out.

I believe that the gifts are not dependent upon the existence of the original 12 Apostles. We see many others (Philip, Stephen, churches at Galatia and Corinth), practicing miraculous gifts of the Spirit and they were not Apostles. I do not understand your logic.

Anonymous said...

alan,

i'm not talking about praying for people to be healed and God heals them. i'm talking about the twelve apostles having the ability to heal the sick and raise the dead on command...for a lack of a better word. paul raised a dead man to life...on command...by the power of the Holy Spirit. peter healed a lame man...on command...by the power of the Holy Spirit. the bible says that the twelve did many signs and wonders which authenticated thier authority to teach and lead the church, and to write the nt.

i dont see any people today who have the abilities of the twelve apostles plus paul. do you? if so, i would love to meet them and spend time with them.

david(volfan007)

Alan Cross said...

No, David. I do not know anyone who does what Jesus, Paul, Peter, and the other Apostles did. That does not mean that God is not healing and performing miraculous signs and wonders through believers, even if it is on a more limited level. But even so, I would rather be considered a fool and believe what I see the Bible saying than to be captive to my experiences or lack thereof.

And before you jump on me, I am not saying that you don't believe the Bible. That is between you and God. I am speaking for myself alone.

Anonymous said...

alan,

i'd never jump on you, bro. besides, if i did, you sure enough feel it. :)

so, are you saying that you are not a continualist then? :) since, as you said..."even if it is on a more limited level."

david(volfan007)

David Rogers said...

For what it's worth, I just came across this post in which a report is given of a blind man being healed. I reckon some, on reading this, would be "default mode" skeptical. I was not there, and I do not know personally the person making the claim, so I am not in a position to have a strong opinion on the validity of this particular occurence. However, my understanding of Scripture leads me to not be "default mode" skeptical.

David Rogers said...

This post from the same guy tells of 20 people being healed of blindness on the same ministry trip. I guess he could just be making it all up. But, it seems to me someone would be able to call his bluff pretty easy.

Grosey's Messages said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
R. L. Vaughn said...

Bart, you wrote, "...if Christian glossolalia were simply linguistic of another order (the linguistics of angels?), then shouldn't they be at least slightly different from ecstatic utterances produced in voodoo ceremonies?"

To play devil's advocate for a moment, one could argue the "linguistic" similarities between "Christian glossolalia" and "voodoo ceremonies" are explained by one being the language of the elect angels and the other the language of the fallen angels, who would have originally spoken the same language!!? Nevertheless, as you, I remain unconvinced.

Also, re Alan's discussion of some of this seeming to be over how to interpret Scripture based on experience or lack of experience. Both sides have discussed experience. Both sides have discussed lack of experience. Both sides have appealed to Scripture for the foundation of their beliefs. If I am reading Sam Storms's "12 Bad Reasons" correctly, he attributes the foundation of at least 9 of these reasons to be Scripture related. In a debate of this nature experience is going to receive a certain amount of focus, because it is whether these very experiences are according to Scripture that brings up the whole discussion anyway, isn't it?

P.S. Bart, don't forget to tell me what is "Charismatic Landmarkism".

Grosey's Messages said...

:) I notice Bro Benny and Bro Reinhard Bonke make similar claims when they are overseas (and it is difficult to verify something overseas...) Wouldn't you like to see it where the Dr.'s could verify it?
Do you think that this is an AOG sindrome?
:/

By the way... just something on "resurrections of the dead" overseas..
when I was in Papua New guinea I met a lot of people that were dead walking around. My national friends would say "he's dead". And I would see him walking around! No I don't see dead people walking! :)

A sick person was called "lik lik dead" The pigeon: "lik lik" meant "a little bit"

Somehow, it sounds greater to say that "I performed a resurrection" when I merely revived someone who was lik lik dead.

I would hazard that a little bit of careful investigation of some of these claims may be revealing.

Steve

David Rogers said...

Steve,

Thank you for this typical "default mode" skeptic reply. As I read the Bible, I see the God I know perfectly well could have done this. And I do not find anything to indicate He would not have done this. Whether or not He actually did, in this case, I don't know for sure. But I don't react to this type of report with "default mode" skepticism. I believe that by doing so I just might miss out on some great things God is doing. I do, at the same time, however, try to be very careful to judge and discern all things by the standard of God's Word.

David Rogers said...

Just clarifying: I did not intend to say that I know God perfectly well, but rather that the God I know could have perfectly well done this.

Bart Barber said...

Alan,

Thanks to you as well for coming over and providing so much of the dialogue that I desire. I greatly enjoyed our interaction at the conference.

I do not begrudge you the holding of your beliefs. As I said at the beginning of my presentation, the historical method is an inductive method, subject to the limitations thereof.

Nevertheless, I do hope that you and Dr. Storms will acknowledge that yours, not mine, is the historical argument from silence. I have positive witnesses (Chrysostom and Augustine) who testify that tongues were no longer within the church in their day. Augustine's later reversal on healings only reinforces his credibility as a witness—had he ever known of tongues-speaking in his day, he would not have hesitated to reverse himself. Yet he did not reverse himself. So, my historical argument is based upon letting these gentlemen's comments speak for themselves, noting that not one shred of evidence contradicts them. Your argument consists of the argument from silence—that there might have been tongues-speaking for which we have no record. I concede the point, but highlight to you that it is shaky ground.

Further, I hope that you will abandon the position that I am arguing from a lack of experience. Rather, I am arguing from having dealt (honestly, I hope) with experience with the present phenomenon.

If we hold differing views, it arises from our differing analyses of the present experience.

Bart Barber said...

David,

Regarding the healings from blindness, were you thinking I would be skeptical because it was a healing, or because it was on the Internet? :-)

Let us be neither gullible nor skeptical—let's find out for ourselves. I'll contact the guy. We have missionaries all over the world. Let's try to find out.

I'm all for the truth.

David Rogers said...

Bart,

Actually, my comments here were not directed specifically to you, but rather as an item of general interest to all those involved in the conversation, and perhaps, a bit more specifically to a few comments made by David "Vol Fan" Worley.

I really appreciate your willingness to contact this guy. I'd love to hear what you find out either way.

Bart Barber said...

David,

I have received a response. I will give it to you via private email. My address consists of my middle name (the one by which I commonly go...sometimes confused with "bert") followed by @fbcfarmersville.com. Email me and then I'll have yours.

David Rogers said...

Bart,

My e-mail is:

loveeachstone@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

david rogers,

i believe that God can heal blind people today...if He so chooses. i know of a woman from memphis who is supposed to be blind, yet she can see. her name is marilyn ford. God healed her. the dr.'s still cant figure out how she is seeing, but she does. halelujah!

david, i believe that the Lord can raise the dead today...in our day and time....if He so chooses.

we still dont have the twelve apostles around today who can do signs and wonders....who can heal the sick and raise the dead on command. i guess that ceased.


david(volfan007) worley

David Rogers said...

David,

I think someone else already brought out this before. But, where in the Bible do you find the "on demand" part of the apostles' healing and raising the dead ministry?

I have heard Marilyn Ford's testimony as well. Pretty incredible. Whether or not people today still have the NT "gifs of healings," yes, God definitely does still heal.

David Rogers said...

David,

I should have typed "on command" rather than "on demand."

As I see it, the apostles were just as subject to the sovereignty of God as we are today. In my opinion, thinking we can tell God what He must do is witchcraft, whether in NT times or today.

Grosey's Messages said...

umm David,
I think you have misunderstood my cynicism. I believe the Lord can heal and mirculously give sight to whomever He wants. I have seen the Lord heal as I am sure you have seen the Lord heal miraculously..
a friend with cancer, a little girl with Guillain-Barré syndrome, both in the last 2 years and to the amazement of specialists. No my skepticism is aimed at the report itself.
Allow me to express my cynicism more directly:

WOW I understand now that God had to wait for these particular men to come to Asia from the USA at this particular time, so that 20 people could regain their sight. (note not 19, not 21, but 20 2 0! 20!!)
I understand now that God can only heal through American AOG pastors... I forgot they were supermen. Its such a shame that now that they have returned to the USA that there will be no more mirculous healings until again they return to that country.

My cynicism was aimed at
1. the convenience of the numbers (20!) .. round numbers generaly represent reports not accuracy.
2. the manner of reporting.. souls saved... pah! give me something really impressive.. blind seeing!!
3. the fact that 20 immediately healed has now diminshed to one healed over a few days.
I will give him the one.. (and praise God for a genuine miraculous healing) but what happened to the other 19?
Did only one return to give thanks?

No, God is Sovereign. He can heal who, when, where and how He will. And it will be authentic and will have the ring of authenticity.

Now may I give a testimony of a friend: He is Indonesian. My friend is Phil Hermawen. Phil was a young teenager during the days of the Sukarno uprising. He was accidently blown up. Dying of burns injuries he was carried to a C and MA hospital where he was prepared for death. A nurse prayed over him and he experienced a near instantaneous complete healing. His arm alone still bears the burn marks where flesh has fused.
In that hospital the young muslim boy came to a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
He went home a few months later, after his memory returned (which coincided with being discipled). His parents disowned him and held a funeral for him because of his conversion.
He went to Bible college, and began planting churches (7 or 8 ) .. just small churches. He married a WEC missionary an aussie, and after a few years returned with her to Australia, where he was one of the first to assist me in planting my first church.
Phil returned to Indonesia in 1986 where he met his mum and brothers, who had been converted during his absence in the churches he had planted (now numbering several hundreds of members in each church). His dad had passed away, but not before becoming a Christian. The amazing part to this story is that Phil's dad was one of the highest ranking parliamentarians in Indonesia during the 60's and 70's.
Do I believe God can heal? Of course I do. Do I believe He needs to be restricted to the glory of certain men? No way! His glory is the only glory that counts! He is purposeful in His healings. And it won't be to make someone's headcount look impressive!

Steve

Anonymous said...

david rogers,

the lame man asked for money. peter healed him..by God's power.. on the spot. the boy fell out of the loft and died. paul healed him...by God's power....on the spot. peter told(demand...command) the lame men to get up and walk. and, he did. paul laid his hands on the dead young man, and on demand..on command...the dead young man was alive. and, of course, i believe that this was happening all the time. according to the book of acts the twelve apostles were doing signs and wonders. simon the sorcerer wanted to buy this ability from them. he saw them as having God given abilities...gifts...that others didnt have. apparently, there are no apostles of Jesus Christ, as john mcarthur calls the twelve, around today. it must have ceased when the last one died.

david....volfan007

David Rogers said...

Steve,

From what I read of the report, I saw no claims or even insinuations that God can only heal through American AOG pastors. Neither do I read anything in the Bible that God might have a particular aversion to using American AOG pastors in healing, though.

Regarding the number 20, I don't personally sense any attempt to sensationlize here, just a matter of fact relation of the actual number of people supposedly healed of blindness.

Also, from what I read, priority is actually given to the number of people making professions of faith, 6000 to be precise. The 20 people healed of blindness appears to me to be secondary in this report.

Also, the 20 healed of blindness are the total from the entire trip. The 1 is the total supposedly healed through the intervention of Jeff Leake. Nowhere do I read that the other 19 failed to "materialize."

Once again, whether or not all this actually took place like Jeff Leake claims on his blog I am unable to discern with the information I have available to me. But, until shown reason to conclude otherwise, my first response is to tend towards believing that what Mr. Leake says occurred really did occur.

David Rogers said...

David W.,

According to the book of Acts, not only the 12 were involved in performing signs and wonders. And, not even the 12 went out and healed every single sick person in the land. They were also subject to the sovereignty of God, who chooses to heal when and how He Himself determines. Yes, the 12 were used in some pretty spectacular ways. However, as I read the Bible, I see no specific reason given why the miracles done by the 12 are necessarily greater than those done by others. God, who is sovereign, apparently has deemed that, in the course of church history, the miracles of the apostles have been among the most extraordinary up to date. But, as I understand it, He can use and may well use whoever He wants at whatever time He wants to do miracles even more extraordinary. I just don't want to be in the business of telling God what He can and can´t do, or even what He will and won't do.

Grosey's Messages said...

Bart, you should see the admission an AG denominational leader makes at David Roger's blog.. I guess I would call it substantiation.
Steve