Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Confronting Common Arguments and Objections to the Continuation of the Charismatic Gifts — Objection 2

If a person claims to have received a prophecy from God today, they need to issue an addendum to the Church and have every person who owns a Bible staple their new prophecy to the back of Revelation.
This objection presupposes that NT prophets only spoke that which was yet to be inscripturated by the Apostles; they spoke ex cathedra, meaning their utterances were infallible and the authority of their prophecies was universal in scope.

First, there is no evidence that prophecies functioned exclusively as placeholders for the NT until the Bible was complete.  The only prophecies that were recorded and preserved in the NT (delivered by prophets who were not Apostles) are those given by Philip, regarding the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:29); the elders at Antioch, regarding the sending of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:2); and those given by Agabus, regarding the famine (Acts 11:28) and Paul’s arrest (Acts 21:10—11); and these are only provided because they are historically relevant to the narrative of Acts.  In other words, there are no prophets in the NT who are credited with the delivery of a prophecy that was doctrinally significant.

Second, prophecy in the context of the New Testament church is not universally binding upon all Christians throughout the world and for all time.  The proof of this is that we do not have a record of anything that was prophesied by Philip’s daughters, nor Judas Barsabbas, nor Silas, nor any of the hundreds, if not thousands, of congregational prophets who served in churches throughout the Roman Empire during the first century.  Prophecies delivered 2000 years ago, whether for edification (Acts 15:32; 1 Cor 14:3), or for missional strategy (Acts 13:4, 16:6, 9—10), or for equipping (1 Tim 1:18, 4:14), are simply irrelevant to the life and ministry of churches today.1 If this were not the case, the Spirit would have preserved a compendium of prophecies for our learning and instruction. 

In closing, if every prophecy uttered in the twenty-first century must be incorporated into the text of Scripture, then the objection (if the objector is consistent) must necessarily be applied to prophecies given in the first century.  And since we haven’t a single prophecy spoken by a congregational prophet with doctrinal significance, having been inscripturated and preserved from the first century, the objection is invalid.

Return to first article in this series: Confronting Common Arguments and Objections to the Continuation of the Charismatic Gifts

<< Objection 1                                                                                                      Objection 3 >>


1 Likewise, if a prophecy is delivered to a church/person today, with specific information for a particular situation, and it is given for the consolation of that individual church/person, then the information that the prophecy carries is utterly irrelevant to other churches/persons.  Therefore, the prophecy would provide no benefit to anyone, except to those for whom the prophecy was specifically intended; one should not expect that this information would require inscripturation, or universal distribution.

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