So Nimm Denn Meine Hande...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Some New Ideas...

Well, here's some things in the back of my mind lately:

I have recently learned about something that I don't know what to think about: Reformed Charismatics. I mean, I did know that there were people who had good (albeit inconsistent) theology and actually historical/grammatical (albeit also inconsistent) hermeneutics. I just didn't realize that there were so many of them. I have always known about John Piper, Waye Grudem, etc. but I had not heard the term Reformed Charismatic until today. Interesting...I haven't encountered any new arguments against cessationism, but it's funny how some poeple really do play "choose-your-own-theology". I often joke about that, but I'm not really sure how I react to actually seeing it. Grab your basket and toss in some Catholic mysticism, some baptist social conservativism, some reformed soteriology, some charismatic pneumatology, some quaker ecclesiology and viola: You have a church that caters to all and none! Funny thing is that I really like Grudem, Piper and Mahaney...I don't doubt that they're Christians. I just wonder where things are going when we have such ecclectic theology and hermeneutics.

Anyway, enough of that. I'm sure there will be lots more thoughts on that. Now, here's something KINDA related:

I have been studying the book of Esther for the last week and a bit, reading it evernight and looking at if through a different lense each time. I noticed something a few days ago and had to pursue it.

In Esther 1:22, Xerxes sends out his edict to everyone in his kingdom, "to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, proclaiming in each people's tongue that every man should be ruler over his own household" (1:22)

So, I noticed that and had a thought in my head. I then broked out my concordance to confirm my suspicions. As I was looking some different terms up, I discovered that 'language' and 'tribe' were the two primary ways that the people in the ancient world were categorized. So, when Xerxes wanted everyone to know something, he'd send out an edict to each province in each people's language. The same idea comes out in Daniel 3:4, 4:1, 5:19, 6:25, 7:14, Revelation 5:9, 7:9, 11:9, 13:7, 14:6.

So how does this passage in Esther apply to the Charismatics, you ask? Well, it seems to me that when a king had an important edict, he'd send it out via messenger to people of every language and tribe...and I'm thinking that this is what was actually going on in Acts 2.

The King of Kings had the message of messages to proclaim to every person, of every language. Instead of sending scribes who wrote the messages down and carried them off, he miraculously caused people to speak in every language and declare his wonders. This isn't commenting for or against cessationism, but it does give me a sense of purpose for tongues beyond the two main ones (inclusion of the Gentiles into the kingdom of God and judgement upon unblelieving Israel). God was showing his divine, sovereign kingship in the proclamation of his message. Every person is his messenger, and that at his divine bidding. Pretty cool. Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian


Blogger Markio said...

Hey there Armchair. I have a task for you. You speak out against the gifts of the Spirit being used today. My challenge for you is to define those gifts in terms of the apostles and churches. Then I would like you to explain cessationism in your own words.

You will need to explain why it is that reformed theology and the belief that the gifts function today are mutually exclusive ideas. The reason I ask is because if the gifts functioned at the time of the apostles, then the gifts of the Spirit do not run counter to good theology. However, since you say that you can not be both a reformed theologian and a charismatic, then you have to fully justify cessationism beyond a shadow of a doubt. Unless you do that you have not proven your case, you have only revealed a presupposition that may be faulty.

7:40 AM

Blogger The Armchair Theologian said...

What a HUGE project! Should I dare?'s tempting, yet SO dangerous. If I take the cork out of that dam, I may wash my life away!

BUT, I AM curious as to what this statement means:

"The reason I ask is because if the gifts functioned at the time of the apostles, then the gifts of the Spirit do not run counter to good theology."

I would never suggest that the gifts of the Spirit functioned at the time of the apostles. The Bible clearly teaches I'm confused.

And in a nutshell, here's why Charismatic theology and Reformed theology are mutually incompatible:

1. Reformed theology holds to the sufficiency of scripture and the closed canon (among other things like sola scriptura).

2. Charismatics, by very definition, believe in the sign gifts of tongues, healing and prophecy.

3. Prophecy then suggest that God is still delivering revelation, thereby challenging a reformed understanding of the doctrine of scripture (unless "prophecy" is re-defined as being non-authoritative or possibly errant/fleshly, which of course Wayne Grudem has so ingeniously done).

There are also other points on hermenteutics (historical grammatical hermeneutics vs. reader response/communal/allegorical hermeneutics) and tongues (disagreements on the purpose and roles of tongues, and their consequent need for either cessation or noncessation). Either way, if I undertake THIS project, it will end up being around 40 posts in length and taking like 2 months. Well, I'm off to the gym. Later Markio.

11:48 AM

Blogger Markio said...

Well, the question I asked was simple even if worded poorly. You see we agree that the scripture is authoritative and the ultimate standard in every area of life. Great. We have that in agreement. We agree that prophesy, tongues and healing was present in the time of the apostles. We should also agree that there were prophesies given within churches, some false because some were saying the end was nearer than it really was.

Now, we should also be able to agree that there have been prophesies uttered that did not make it into the canon of scripture. Being words that come from the spirit of God, they carry weigh and power but they did not make it into the canon for some reason.

What makes today different from the days of the apostles? I do not believe the exegesis involved in the interpretation of 1 Corinthians 13 to mean that the gifts have ceased are solid. I also further believe that the speculation that the fading away of the gifts of the spirit as the church grew older is also a sufficient for the doctrine of cessationism.

That being said, I believe that Grudem is doing his level best to be true to scripture. Although I also believe that everyone is interpreting scripture through their own experience.

After being surrounded by charismatics for much of my life I have discovered that charismatics are bad for taking an experience and making it normative and trumping good exegesis. I'm sick of it quite frankly and it is beginning to make me feel physically sick at times.

However, I have experienced the same in my encounters with cessationists. I had the opportunity to tear to shreads a lesson offered by a Dallas Theological Seminary graduate. He was a brilliant man but besides the very few scriptures that he could bring forward, it was all an emotional plea. He said that he could not believe that his mentors, godly men, did not experience this stuff if it was something that God wanted for his people. It is a great argument but entirely based on experience and not scripture.

I believe that I would need a clear definition of solo scriptura to know if it is even a Biblical concept to begin with. Sometimes we make rules for God and his people without consulting God. I can think of reasons to move in that direction but I do not believe the scripture leads us to the end of charismatic ministry.

Chasismatics have so muddied the waters that I think that people like Piper and Grudem are diffiicult voices to hear over the shouts of heresy that follow the more popular charasmatic voices.

8:49 AM

Blogger The Armchair Theologian said...

Woah there sailor...agree, agree, disagree, agree, disagree, agree, agree, agree, agree, agree, agree, disagree, agree. Now that I've made things more convoluted, let's just keep things simple. One question, one answer. I'll let you give the first question, but let's do one at a time. Too many simultaneous questions and topics makes serious dialogue difficult. That being said, shoot with the first:

2:39 PM

Blogger Markio said...

What is the doctrine of Sola Scriptura exactly?

8:39 AM

Blogger The Armchair Theologian said...

Sola Scriptura? Well, here's a lengthy quote for you:

"The Reformation principle of sola Scriptura has to do with the sufficiency of Scripture as our supreme authority in all spiritual matters. Sola Scriptura simply means that all truth necessary for our salvation and spiritual life is taught either explicitly or implicitly in Scripture.

It is NOT a claim that all truth of every kind is found in Scripture. The most ardent defender of sola Scriptura will concede, for example, that Scripture has little or nothing to say about DNA structures, microbiology, the rules of Chinese grammar, or rocket science. This or that "scientific truth" for example, may or may not be actually true, whether or not it can be supported by Scripture—but Scripture is a "more sure Word," standing above all other truth in its authority and certainty. It is "more sure," according to the apostle Peter, than the data we gather firsthand through our own senses (2 Pet. 1:19). Therefore Scripture is the highest and supreme authority on any matter to which it speaks.But there are many important questions on which Scripture is silent. Sola Scriptura makes no claim to the contrary.

Nor does sola Scriptura claim that everything Jesus or the apostles ever taught is preserved in Scripture. It only means that everything necessary, everything binding on our consciences, and everything God requires of us is given to us in Scripture.

Furthermore, we are forbidden to add to or take way from Scripture (cf. Deut. 4:2; 12:32, cf. Rev. 22:18-19). To do so is to lay on people's shoulders a burden that God Himself does not intend for them to bear (cf. Matt. 23:4).

Scripture is therefore the perfect and only standard of spiritual truth, revealing infallibly all that we must believe in order to be saved, and all that we must do in order to glorify God. That—no more, no less—is what sola Scriptura means."

That quote is a definition given from John MacArthur at:

Here's another good quote:

"ALL Protestants agree in teaching that "the word of God, as contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only infallible rule of faith and practice." The Westminster Confession teaches: "Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testament, which are these: etc... . All which are given by inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and life. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture; unto which nothing at any time is to be added whether by new revelations of the Spirit or traditions of men (ch. 1 section 6). All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them"(ch. 1 section 7).

From these statements it appears that Protestants hold, (1.) That the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and are therefore infallible, and of divine authority in all things pertaining to faith and practice, and consequently free from all error whether of doctrine, fact, or precept. (2.) That they contain all the extant supernatural revelations of God designed to be a rule of faith and practice to his Church. (3.) That they are sufficiently perspicuous to be understood by the people, in the use of ordinary means and by the aid of the Holy Spirit, in all things necessary to faith or practice, without the need of any infallible interpreter."

That is from Thomas Hodge and can be found at:

I would agrue with Hodge that Sola Scriptura and the perspicuity of Scripture are related, but perspicuity is not necessarily intrinsic in Sola Scriptura.

Either way, does that satisfy?

9:49 AM


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