Extra-Biblical Knowledge – My Thougts Expanded and Clarified – And: Christian Deism
Edited / I found a couple of pages with views about the Holy Spirit, and related topics, that seem similar to my own.
The authors of the following recognize the errors of “Pentecostal/charismatic/Third Wave tradition” in regards to their views and beliefs of the Holy Spirit and how, if, or when the Holy Spirit speaks to believers today, but they also feel that “hard cessationism is inadequate.”
The pages are:
(Link): Father, Son, and Holy Scriptures? by M. James Sawyer
I exchanged a few Tweets with Pirate Radio (a.k.a. Fighting for the Faith) host guy Chris Rosebrough earlier today.
This is rather a follow up of sorts to my previous post:
- (Link): Extrabiblical is Not Necessarily Unbiblical or Anti Biblical – Rosebrough, Osteen, Extrabiblical Revelation and Promptings – Denying one of the Works of the Holy Spirit
I do appreciate Rosebrough tweeting me back, and told him so in a Tweet. He must be very busy, so it’s nice of him to take time out of his day to reply.
I hate debating with folks on Twitter, for one reason being, I have always been terrible at condensing my thoughts.
I suck rocks at bantering back and forth in a 140 letter per post format especially.
That is one reason I kept giving Rosebrough a link to a previous post on this blog about this issue (link is above). It would take me 243,567 Tweets to explain to him on Twitter what it took me a page to write on this blog.
Rosebrough asked me once or twice to cite specific verses or passages to prove my point that God speaks to people today.
First, I’d like to clarify that I mean I believe that God speaks inwardly to people today in the form of personal warnings and the like.
I am not Charismatic or a Word of Faith person. I disagree with their views.
I do not believe that God issues prophetical views to people today, such as what we see in the book of Revelation, where it is described how the world will end.
Rosebrough used the word “prophecy” several times in his tweets to me, but my understanding of that may be different from his.
I don’t think the Holy Spirit, for example, warning a Christian woman today to not go down an alley alone – knowing she is will be mugged if she does so – is the same thing as “biblical prophecy,” that personal revelation (say about someone’s safety) is in the same category of God telling John in Revelation to “write what you see and hear” about the end times, the entire fate of the whole world.
I am not saying that all inward guidance of the Holy Spirit, or all visions, are on par with Scriptural (written) authority.
That would be a quasi-Roman Catholic view (Roman Catholics place their church tradition and Pope’s ex cathedra on the same level of authority as the written word, which I disagree with).
I do agree with sola scriptura.
But I also believe some Christians carry sola scriptura (and how they choose to carry out, or defend, “doctrine” whether they perceive it to be sound or not) to an un-biblical, even absurd, too-narrow level. (I refer to this as “hyper sola scriptura” in previous posts.)
I have gone on record in previous posts here on this blog as saying if someone feels they got a vision or a message from God, that if their impression, vision, word (whatever term) contradicts what God has already said in the Bible, their claim, word, etc, is wrong.
I do not believe that a personal word from the Holy Spirit to a certain individual for a specific situation is binding on all believers.
Rosebrough kept asking me to give him one single, lone verse that supports the notion that the Holy Spirit speaks to Christians today.
I do not recall there being any one, lone single verse that says that the Holy Spirit speaking to Christians would end with the first believers.
(The faith being delivered once for all to the saints, or 2 Tim. 3.16 is not addressing the topic on whether or not the Spirit speaks to people today. I discussed that a bit more in previous posts, so I won’t get into that here.)
As I told Rosebrough on Twitter, there is no such one verse or passage for my position. But, his position also lacks a single “gotcha” verse or passage.
There are plenty of examples in the Bible of the Holy Spirit speaking to believers (see citations in previous post).
I see no passage in the Bible that says that would be a phenomenon only for early Christians and not for Christians today.
DEMAND FOR LONE VERSE – Unrealistic Criteria
That Rosebrough keeps demanding a single passage for my position is something I feel is disingenuous, and that it is a somewhat intellectually dishonest technique.
There are some Christian beliefs or doctrines, such as the Trinity or the incarnation of Christ, and other topics, which cannot be proven by one or two passages/verses alone, but must be strung together via numerous stories and examples in the Bible, or one must infer these things from the total of Scripture.
Entire freaking councils had to be held in early Christianity, the first few hundred years after Christ, to define, understand, defend, and explain the Trinity, how was it Jesus could be both man and God, and so on.
If there was a single, lone verse neatly defending and explaining those subjects, why all the councils?
Why do so many cults today reject Christianity, in that, one reason they sometimes cite for the rejection, is because they feel Christians worship three gods, not one? They don’t understand the Trinity, and don’t see it in the Bible.
The doctrine of the Trinity is not obvious to everyone – the doctrine of the Trinity is not so clear-cut. There is no single, one verse that neatly spells all this out to everyone’s satisfaction.
(Yes, I believe the Bible teaches that God is three-in-one, both one and three. But not everyone arrives at that understanding or acceptance quickly or easily.)
Just because a Christian cannot point to a single, specific verse (or passage) that clearly spells out “X,” does not necessarily make “X” untrue or unbiblical.
YOUR INTERPRETATION MAY BE WRONG, EVEN IN THE FACE OF SO-CALLED ‘CLEAR’ VERSES
Even where Christians think the Bible is clear, they sometimes still get things wrong, such as gender complementarian views.
Gender complementarian Christians think that the Bible “clearly” and “obviously” forbids, for all time, all women from preaching (they also get into nonsense about the husband being in authority over the wife, which is how they interpret the word “head” in Ephesians).
However, that is only their particular (and mistaken) interpretation of one or two verses (and they tend to ignore and downplay biblical examples of women who did teach, lead, and preach men, such as Deborah and Junia, for example).
In the case of slavery, a lot of American Christians, even roughly up to about 149 years ago, believed that whites holding black people as slaves was acceptable, and they claimed to find biblical support for this, and the Bible does not flat-out repudiate the practice of humans holding other humans as slaves in a neat, lone verse, but even has portions instructing slaves to obey their masters, etc.
See: (Link): Justifying Injustice with the Bible: Slavery
I think there are two extremes on the topic of extra biblical revelation, and I think both views are in error, or can be in error.
You have guys who (I assume this is Rosebrough’s position) who are adamantly opposed to any or all forms of claims of extra biblical knowledge.
Then you have your Word of Faith, Charismatic guys who claim to hear from God every five minutes, on everything from major world politics, to life- and- death matters, to what flavor chewing gum should they buy tomorrow.
My position on this – which I feel is biblical – is somewhere between these two positions.
As I mentioned in my previous post, God’s will for a person’s life cannot always be discerned from the written word alone (e.g., whom shall I marry, what vocation should I choose, etc), so a Christian might pray and inquire of God on those matters, which to a lot of people, are pretty serious.
The Bible does not tell you which college you should attend or who you should marry.
I’ve heard of too many testimonies of self professing Christians who are in immediate danger who ask God for help, and they claim they hear from God in that moment.
Some of these Christians were in long term danger, such as the story I heard today, about a Christian child who was lost in the forest for days. Some Christian man searching for the kid prayed and asked God for help, and he claims God told him where to find the child.
In my last post, I cited the example of the Christian fighter pilot whose plane crashed underwater, he was trapped, panicked, and prayed for guidance, which he claims he got.
Then there are testimonies such as this one:
The woman in that interview says she was trapped in a burning car, and an angelic being came out of no where to free her and help her.
Please note. I do not automatically assume each and every testimony I ever hear is true. Some could be false, some of these people could be making these things up.
But I have heard so many self professing Christians – in person, magazines, and other TV shows over the decades – say they were facing instant danger, they prayed to God on the spot for help or an answer, and right then, they either got a word of comfort from God inwardly, or someone showed up to help them (whether a friend, family member, or what they felt was an angelic being) for me to brush all these off as being false.
There is nothing in the Bible that says God cannot, does not or will not speak to a person today, or send them angelic help.
CHRISTIAN DEISM – and – ROLE OF HOLY SPIRIT?
My understanding of Deism is one who believes that there is a God, but that God “walked off” and left humanity to its own devices at the creation, or at some point in the past.
That is, according to what I make of their views, there is a God, but he does not care about humanity, or does not get involved with us.
When I hear Christians completely denounce the possibility of supernatural intervention and doings in the life of people today (as something being true only in olden days of long ago), they remind me of…
Thomas Jefferson, who respected the Bible’s moral teachings, but who literally took a pair of scissors to a copy of the Bible and snipped out all mentions of the miracles of Jesus and so on, as he did not believe in the supernatural (you can read the Wiki page for more about that).
When I hear Christians completely denounce the possibility of supernatural intervention and doings in the life of people today, they sound either like…
a.) practical atheists to me (they claim to believe in a deity but don’t believe there is any evidence in the here and now of God working in or among people or speaking to people),
or like they sound like
b.) Christian deists to me – they believe God exists, performed Supernatural feats in the past, but that God has walked off and left believers today with no guidance, no counselor – but only with a printed book.
That printed book (Bible) is great and should be used as the final measuring rod (2 Timothy 3.16), but, it does not address every last life situation or peril a person can and does face in 2014 America.
The Bible does not even, by its own admission, mention every word or deed that Jesus performed in his ministry (see John 21:25).
It seems to me that Jesus promised the Holy Spirit for all Christians, not just Peter, Paul, and the first Christians:
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever” (John 14:16)
That verse refers to the Holy Spirit.
Yeah, where is the verse that says Jesus intended that to apply to only Peter, Paul, and Matthew? It doesn’t.
Jesus was not a dunce. He knew that there would be believers after the very first followers:
“My prayer is not for them [the twelve disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message (John 17:20)
From 1 John 4:4
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
That verse is about the Holy Spirit.
That looks like it was written to an early local church, a bunch of Average Joe Christian folks – it is not said that only Peter, Matthew, Paul, and James had the Holy Spirit, but also the recipients of this letter.
SO WHAT EXACTLY IS THE HOLY SPIRIT’S ROLE TODAY?
If you agree that Christians today have the Holy Spirit indwelling them, what, in your opinion, role does he play in the life of the believer today, and how does he do it?
If you say, “I believe the Holy Spirit sanctifies believers today,” how exactly does He do so? What does that entail?
Are you saying the instant Jesus was zapped up into Heaven (Acts 1:11), he left Christians with only a book (ink printed on paper – earliest was papyri and then vellum – never mind they already had the Old Testament and that the New was decades away from being written and compiled), and that’s it (and possibly weekly meeting in a brick building with other Christians)?
Where is your single verse for that view (there is not one)?
If all the Christian walk takes, or is limited to, is a book containing some Jesus quotes and Pauline epistles on how to hold a church service, and attending a brick building once a week to hear some preacher read the Jesus quotes aloud, what is the purpose of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s daily or weekly life exactly?
It seems He lacks a purpose for earthly life, in the here and now.
Why would Jesus promise the Spirit to all believers, if the Spirit basically serves no purpose for believers through the ages?
It appears to me as though you have just rendered the third person of the Godhood irrelevant for any believer past roughly 90 A.D. or so.
Jesus said the very hairs on your head have been numbered. Based on that, and other passages, it would seem that God is interested in each person, down to her particular life and particular circumstances.
Well, I am not a Jewish woman Messianic convert living in 64 A.D. Jerusalem, nor a Roman convert in ancient Rome.
I am an American in 2014. Things that were recorded in and up to or a bit past 90 A.D. by Paul, Luke, Matthew, John, and Peter do not address every situation I personally have faced in my life now in America.
Particular situations facing me are not going to be the same for the ones facing women in 65 A.D., or even other women alive in 2014 America.
H.S.S. (Hyper- sola- scriptura) Christians sound to me as though they believe a god exists, but that this god just tossed a book at humanity, walked off and left us, there is no more supernatural involvement with humanity.
These are not views that I see being supported in the Bible, not in any one single verse or passage, and not in the entirety of the written word.
HSSs – Hyper Sola Scriptura-ists such as Chris Rosebrough – also seem to be saying that not only is the Holy Spirit superfluous to modern Christians but that God is incompetent to act in the world today (supernaturally or directly), or that He refuses to act in that way, and that is again, a view I don’t see supported in the Bible.
(Link): Who’s Afraid of the Holy Spirit? Preface and Abstracts
- M. James Sawyer and Daniel B. Wallace, eds.
The origins of this book came in the early 1990s when both of us editors (Jim Sawyer and Dan Wallace) were facing trauma in our lives and in the lives of our families—traumas that our rationalistic theological training had left us unequipped to deal with. The propositions of our theology left us cold, and failed to speak vitally to the pain we each felt.
Independently, as scholars trained in the evangelical cessationist tradition we came to grips with the spiritual sterility of that tradition.
As we shared our personal “war stories” we discovered similar trajectories in the development of our understanding of the reality and necessity of the personal and existential work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Doctrine and biblical knowledge alone simply did not cut it.
Out of our conversations, the sharing of the pain and reflection on our background, the idea for a book addressing our concerns was born.
While not embracing what we consider to be the excesses of Pentecostalism, the charismatic movement, and the Third Wave, we have embraced what we have tentatively called pneumatic Christianity.
We contend that the way evangelical cessationism has developed was reactionary and reductionistic.
Rather than focus upon scriptural images of the Holy Spirit as a presence deep within the soul of the believer, cessationism has reactively denied experience in opposition to the Pentecostal overemphasis upon experience, which at times supplanted the revealed truth of scripture. In one sense this volume is not intended to be programmatic; rather it is exploratory.
One theme that surfaces numerous times throughout the essays is the issue of control. As a group we have individually and independently recognized that we really are not in control of our lives.
The place of control belongs to God alone. Our attempts for control can be a subtle grasp at self-deification. The fear of loss of control, we are convinced, has driven much cessationist literature.
…. Consequently the essays of this volume explore, however tentatively, an attempt to steer a middle ground between the sterile cessationism that essentially locks the Spirit in the pages of scripture, and an anything-goes-approach that has characterized parts of the Pentecostal/charismatic/Third Wave movements.
Edit. March 2016:
This post (on this blog) pertains to Chris Rosebrough somewhat:
(Link): One Foot in Christianity, One Foot in Agnosticism – In a Faith Crisis (this post also addresses Biblicism)
(Link): Hyper Sola Scriptura
This page also discusses what I have termed “Hyper sola scriptura”
(Link): Christians Who Can’t Agree on Who The Old Testament Is For and When or If It Applies
This mentions Rosebrough – who criticized this guy:
(Link): A Preacher Who Actually Reminds His Congregation that “Family” in the New Testament is Not Referring to Nuclear Family, Encourages Them to Include Non Relatives