Where Are the Prophets?
As McDurmon draws his article to a close, he says: “I realize the analysis given above opens the possibility that the revelatory gifts are still in operation. I have no problem with that, although in my personal experience– which includes at one time nearly five years as a Pentecostal– I can’t say I have every (sic- ever) experienced a genuine undeniable case of tongues, prophecy, or interpretation of tongues. Even if I did, however, any such experience could not stand as an authoritative argument for anyone but the direct witnesses, seeing as it would be anecdotal only. This holds true, by the way, for any of the miraculous gifts.”
I must say, with all due respect, this is some of the most shoddy logic one will ever encounter. This is simply awful– not to mention destructive of the Biblical authority!
Opening the Door For Modern Inspired Prophets!
McDurmon acknowledges that his position on 1 Corinthians 13: “Opens the possibility that the revelatory gifts are still in operation. I have no problem with that…” I am stunned by such a flippant comment, for it so obviously reveals a lack of thought as to the consequences.
McDurmon is certainly true to say that his position “Opens the possibility that the revelatory gifts are still in operation.” But, it is not just a “possibility”; it would be a logical necessity.
Remember that McDurmon’s position is that the Bible does not predict the objective cessation of the revelatory gifts, at any given point of time, period! So, if the Bible does not predict the cessation of the revelatory gifts of the Holy Spirit, the logical conclusion is that those gifts continue. It would be illogical to say that the Bible does not predict the cessation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit but that those gifts have in fact ceased.
Are we to believe that the revelatory work of the Spirit just “fizzled out” without the church being told that they would cease?
The Work of the Spirit and Prophets in the Last Days
Take note of the importance of the revelatory gifts of the Spirit, as foretold in the in the OT, and emphasized so strongly in the NT.
1.) The Spirit would raise Israel from the dead (Ezekiel 37).
2.) The Spirit would be instrumental in bringing in everlasting righteousness (Isaiah 32; Daniel 9).
3.) The Spirit would anoint Messiah (Isaiah 61).
4.) The Spirit– and the attendant signs performed by the prophets— would be a sign of the impending Great and Terrible Day of the Lord (Joel 2; Acts 2; 1 Corinthians 14:20f).
5.) The Spirit, through the apostles and prophets, would bring about the transition from the Old Covenant to the New (2 Corinthians 3:16f).
6.) The Spirit would “reveal all things,” “guide into all truth,” and “shew things to come” to the apostles and prophets (John 16:7-13).
7.) The Spirit would raise up the “mortal body” and was in fact the guarantee of the resurrection (Romans 8; 2 Corinthians 5:5).
8.) The revelatory gifts of the Spirit did in fact, reveal the New Covenant of Christ through the apostles and prophets. He likewise confirmed that testimony (Mark 16:17f; Acts 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 1:4f) and, he confirmed the apostolic authority of the Twelve (2 Corinthians 12).
9.) The Spirit served as the guarantee of the Day of Redemption of the purchased possession (Ephesians 1:12f).
We could continue to list the function and role of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but, this short list demonstrates the incredibly important role of those gifts in the eschatological drama.
Given the tremendously important role of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in that drama, are we– to re-ask the question-supposed to believe that while the appearance of those gifts was specifically predicted to come, but, the cessation of those gifts is never mentioned, as McDurmon claims? Given McDurmon’s position in his article, his view not only “opens the door” for the continuance of the charismatic revelatory gifts, his position (and that of all of those who insist that the gifts of the Holy Spirit continue to day) logically demands it. And this is where the illogic of his view comes to the forefront, in glaring manner.
Where are the Prophets Today?
Ask yourself, are there today, active in the church, divinely inspired, authoritative, infallible prophets and teachers? If they are, where are they? If there are such prophets, why do they not, as in Acts 15 engage in conferences where they, through the Spirit, make authoritative proclamations on church policy and doctrine. (Now, I realize that some Reformed folks almost feel this way about the Creeds, but, the Creeds themselves did not claim to possess that authority or position! So, if the Creeds did not claim that authority or power, it is patently wrong for believers today to ascribe that kind of authority to them. The Creeds are NOT inspired!)
What I am asking here is not: Where are the prophets revealing additional New Covenant books? That is not my argument or point. Not all prophets revealed books to be included in the Canon. However, if there are in fact divinely inspired, infallible prophets alive today, then it is certainly possible that they could write such epistles. After all, if they are inspired, infallible and authoritative, then if they were “moved by the Spirit” to write a book, a letter to the churches, or even a creed, then what they wrote would be authoritative for the church, right? If not, why not?
But, again, I am not saying that inspired prophets had to write new books for the Canon. See for instance Agabus in Acts 11. So far as we know, he wrote no inspired letters. But, just because prophets, inspired by the Holy Spirit, did not have to reveal additional New Covenant letters to be included in the Canon does not mean that what was revealed to them was not authoritative and infallible.
Agabus was given a vision of the future. His prophecy was inspired by the Spirit, and his prophecy was absolutely true. So, where are the inspired, infallible, authoritative prophets in the church today that are making such prophecies. Remember that McDurmon says he never witnessed any in five years as a member of the Pentecostal movement. Recall what I noted and asked in the previous article:
“If you were a member of the church in the first century, would you have been able to attend worship over a period of five years, in the church at Jerusalem, Corinth, perhaps Ephesus, or Thessalonica, and never witness even one single manifestation of the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit?”
Keep in mind that it is the “official” position of the charismatic churches that “in the last days” i.e. ostensibly the days in which we are living now, there would be an increase in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.Be sure to read my book, Into All the World, Then Comes The End, for a fuller discussion of the last days work of the Spirit.
The Prophets and the Last Days
This poses a problem for JMcDurmon since he claims to believe that the last days ended in AD 70:
“For Paul, everything he said about these decadent persons was meant to be immediately instructive to his audience at that time. It is fairly clear even in 2 Timothy that the references pertain to the rise of false teachers that had already come among them then (see 2 Timothy 2:16-17). Thus, his warnings about false teachers in 2 Timothy 3 have reference to problems the Church faced already at that time. Thus, ‘the last days’ pertained to them already. This grows even clearer from other Scripture references to ‘the last days.’ Hebrews 1:2 makes it absolutely undeniable that the last days were expiring then, at the time the letter was being written.” (Jesus V Jerusalem, Powder Springs, GA. American Vision, 2011, 198- all emphasis his).
If the charismatic gifts were to be operative in the last days, and if the last days have ended, then two things logically follow:
1.) The Bible did teach the objective cessation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, at the end of the last days, thus falsifying McDurmon’s article.
2.) There are no living, inspired, authoritative, infallible prophets alive and ministering today.
According to the current Charismatic movement, in the last days, there would be a “super-abundance” of miracles, and more, we are assured that believers today should be able to do works greater even than Jesus performed (according to the charismatic application of John 14). All you have to do is listen to the leading charismatic teachers of the day to know what they are claiming.
So, McDurmon’s theology is, to say the least, confused and confusing. On the one hand, he affirms the termination of the “last days” the time given by Scripture for the operation of the gifts of the Spirit. But then, he tells us he has no problem believing that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are still operative today– which logically would demand that the last days are still present! (McDurmon’s position puts him at direct odds with Kenneth Gentry, who strongly, and correctly, posits the end of the revelatory gifts in the first century. See Gentry’s book The Charismatic Gift of Prophecy, available from us here. While I disagree with Gentry’s view that “that which is perfect” is the completed New Testament Canon, I nonetheless concur with his arguments about the timing of the cessation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is interesting to say the least that Gentry, contra McDurmon, says we are in the last days today, yet, he denies the operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that were to be operative in, and characteristic of, the last days!)
The real question raised by McDurmon’s article is: Where are the Prophets? McDurmon tried to skirt around the issue by simply saying he does not have a problem with the idea of on-going revelatory gifts. But, then, amazingly he says that if there are truly empowered people active in the church today, “any such experience could not stand as an authoritative argument for anyone but the direct witnesses, seeing it would be anecdotal only.” This latter statement is just stunningly illogical, as we will see in our next installment. But notice…
Where Are The Prophets To Guide the Church Today?
Don’t you think that if there were, in truth, divinely inspired, authoritative, infallible prophets and teachers alive today that McDurmon would be actively seeking them out? I can tell you that if I believed that such men or women were alive and teaching in the church, I would want to sit at their feet, daily! How totally awesome it would be to be able to sit at the feet of prophets divinely inspired by the Spirit, who would provide absolutely authoritative and infallible instruction! Why isn’t Joel McDurmon actively searching for such teachers?
If there are such men or women alive and functioning in the church today, why are they not authoritatively helping to solve the divisiveness in the church today? That is certainly what Paul, Peter and the other apostles / prophets attempted in the first century! And of course, in the first century, those inspired prophets could perform undeniable, astounding, miracles that left even the enemies of the Cross dumbfounded and speechless. Where are such prophets today? They are not to be found, anywhere. McDurmon’s admission that even after five years as a member of the Pentecostal movement, he did not witness or experience a single example of a prophet, is confirmatory of that truth. (Of course, it is often rejoined that, “Well, those who did not witness true miracles did not see the real thing that happened in such and such a place!” But, what happened to the claim of super-abundance of gifts?)
Let me re-iterate: There are no living, inspired, authoritative, infallible prophets operative in the church today. In fact, church history is littered with the examples of those who made their false predictions and whose “revelations from the Lord” are patently unscriptural. The Lord simply did not speak to them– and does not speak to them. They are not inspired, infallible revelatory prophets, pastors or preachers, period! And if there are no such prophets, pastors, teachers, infallibly inspired to teach with absolute authority, then McDurmon’s article is falsified.
More to come.