About 25 years ago I was deeply involved in the ”Word of faith” movement (Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland; can I ever forget Copeland’s ‘whosoever’, repeat ‘whosoever’?). ”Word of faith” has a strong emphasis on the spiritual gifts such as prophecy and speaking in tongues. I have since discontinued believing in the ”continuationist” doctrine that the spiritual gifts have never ceased (cessationism). In plain English, I have stopped believing that spiritual gifts have not stopped. But not totally. It still niggles at me.
A few years ago I attended a ”continuist” church. During the service, someone stood up and uttered ”these are the end times.” I thought to myself – hope no one saw my jaw thinking – ”Yawn.” The pastor then said that this prophecy was given the previous week in another meeting he attended. YAWN again. That was how I felt.
The point is this, if one believes that prophecy operates today, it’s not too hard to believe that even if such a person has heard such a prophecy (?) millions of times before, he will receive it with awe. I must admit that it drives me dilly, which, of course, might be a fault in me. But let me move on.
Phil Johnson is – as with most things to do with Christianity – very voluble, which I’m all for. This time Phil was strutting his cessationist stuff – and Marvin Cotton, who is a continuationist, is displeased; displeased less with Phil Johnson’s criticism of continuationism than with Phil’s philippic (fiery damning speech) ”cyber-slander” of Mark Driscoll, a continuationist. Johnson says – not in these exact words – that Driscoll is prophetically pornographic, which comes, apparently, as no surprise to Johnson. Johnson’s beef is not only with Driscoll’s “pornography” but also with his prophecy, indeed Johnson is mad with all modern prophecy. For Johnson, continuationism is an abomination, a divination, a contortionism. Adding pornography to the mix makes the whole thing even more salacious.
It’s not hard for Cotton, an ”anti-cesso,” to see through the guise of anticontinuationists (”anti-contins”) such as Phil Johnson pulling the wool over his (Cotton’s) eyes:
“… the guys [Johnson and his ilk], says Cotton, are on an anti-Continuationist tear–and are at it still, each of the Pyros seemingly trying to outdo the other in their Cesso fervor. I can’t even keep up with ‘em. This one’s all about a five minute video, clipped and edited from an hour-long message on Spiritual Warfare presented in Februrary 2008, and specifically posted on Youtube by Phil Johnson, for the purpose of inflaming opposition to Driscoll. To ensure that viewers will treat it as scandalous, he qualifies the video as “extremely disturbing” and entitles his post, “Pornographic Divination.” In case his subtlety is lost on you, he is accusing his brother of a double abomination. Nice.”
“The center piece of the video, continues Cotton,is surely a one-minute description of what Driscoll presents as a visionary experience through which he had detailed knowledge of a woman’s unconfessed sin. Evidently the woman, along with her husband, had consulted Driscoll in regard to a spiritual problem, and because he believed the incident left a significant foothold for demonic oppression, he confronted her with the facts of the matter.”
(Read more here)
My preoccupation is this. I can’t decide who is right. I have no beef with the five solas and the five points of monergism (“Calvinism”) ; on that score I stand firmly with Phil Johnson (must go check my bad breath), but I can’t come to any firm conclusion on the “gifts” issue, whether they have stopped or whether they continue.
I suppose others have this problem as well, as they might also have with the details of eschatology (end-time prophecy) – is it near, and how near; or is some/ much of it silly, even scatalogical.
I am a fan of Phil Johnson, but I must say that Cotton has made some very good points on the cessationist-continuationist issue, which, as I have said, I struggle with to the point that NOT only do I, a guy like most other guys, NOT know whether I’m Arthur or Martha, but worse, whether I’m Arthur or Arthur, indeed – all this is bordering on pornography – whether I’m Martha or Martha.
I’d better pop in at youtube and see what all the fuss about Phil is about. Or maybe I won’t.