Is There Prophecy Today? John Piper, along with John MacArthur, John Wesley, John Calvin, and John/Joan Q. Christian

Download a pdf version here: Prophecy and John Piper or take a picture here:

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Is the New Testament gift of prophecy operative in the church today? Many say Yes; [1] many, No, famously John MacArthur in 2014, in his Strange Fire conference and book. [2]

There is third response, a Yes, but viewpoint which has been popular among some non-charismatic evangelicals, and affirmed in recent times by John Piper: the gift of prophecy is a special experience that befalls a preacher while in the act. In an essay that synthesizes and defends Piper’s view:

 “I pray for the gift of prophecy almost as often as I pray for anything, before I stand up to speak.” This prayer for prophecy is a desire to preach under an anointing, in order to “say things agreeable to the Scriptures, and subject to the Scripture, that are not in my manuscript or in my head as I walk into the pulpit, nor thought of ahead of time, which would come to my mind, which would pierce in an extraordinary way, so that 1 Corinthians 14:24-25 happens.” [3]

The Corinthians text is he refers to is:

But if all prophesy, an unbeliever or outsider who enters is reproved by all and called to account by all. After the secrets of the unbeliever’s heart are disclosed, that person will bow down before God and worship him, declaring, “God is really among you.”

imagesThe difficulty here is the fact that in the New Testament the sina qua non of prophetic utterance is that the prophets passes along information from God which is not knowable from mere human observation or reasoning. [4] (more…)

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“The Paranoid Style in American Politics” has its 50th Anniversary

[One of my few blog entries on politics, and how it relates to psychology, sociology, and modern apocalyptic eschatology. Here is a full pdf version: Paranoid Style Turns 50_Shogren]

Because of his ability to describe and predict American political behavior, Richard Hofstadter’s “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” should be required reading for the citizen. And except for Sacred Scriptures and the US Constitution, I never say any text should be mandatory. “Paranoid Style” was a short, dynamite article in the November 1964 issue of Harper’s, and is still available on their website archive. [1] We will look at some of its insights for today, and in particular, its implications for the evangelical church.

His immediate interest was the conservative movement that backed Barry Goldwater for president in the 1964 election. As a confirmed liberal of the old style, that is, to the left of typical Democrats of today, Hofstadter argued that he was not simply being anti-conservative – and that he was! – but rather: “I believe there is a style of mind that is far from new and that is not necessarily right-wing.”

I offer my own summary of the script of the “paranoid style”:

Nothing is what it seems to be: there are evil forces at work, carrying out their treacherous actions and shielding themselves from the attention of the general public;

I and a small group of whistle-blowers are even now revealing this hidden reality;

the proofs are extraordinarily complex and interwoven, but the central truth is simple and can be explained in a few sentences;

we who are “in the know” are continually hampered or even checkmated due to powerful enemies and widespread public apathy and gullibility.

“Nothing is what it seems to be – there are evil forces at work, carrying out their treacherous actions and shielding themselves from the attention of the general public”

conspiracy-theory-top-secretExamples from recent decades would have to include Senator Joe McCarthy, who argued that the loss of Eastern Europe and China to the Reds could not reasonably have happened by accident, or by normal political (more…)

Published in: on December 19, 2014 at 7:29 pm  Comments (17)  
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The gift of tongues in the post-apostolic church: a rejoinder to Cleon Rogers

Click link to download the article as a pdf file: Shogren_The gift of tongues in the post-apostolic church

PentecostIn 1965 Cleon Rogers published a short study about the gift of tongues in the centuries after the apostles.[1] It is late in the day to refute an article already a half century old; but since people keep quoting it as authoritative, it is worthwhile pointing out some of its grave logical and historical flaws.

Rogers examines the Apostolic Fathers, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Montanus, Origen, Chrysostom; he sums up his argument (143):

After examining the testimony of the early Christian leaders whose ministry represents practically every area of the Roman Empire from approximately A.D. 100 to 400, it appears that the miraculous gifts of the first century died out and were no longer needed to establish Christianity. Furthermore, it is very evident that even if the gift were in existence, in spite of all the testimony to the contrary, it was neither widespread nor the normal Christian experience. The only clear reference to anything resembling the phenomena is connected with the heretic Montanus and those influenced by his erroneous views of the Spirit. All of the evidence points to the truth of Paul’s prophecy when he says “tongues shall cease” (I Cor. 13:8).

Even for the reader who wishes to be positively disposed, Rogers makes broad claims out of meager evidence. (more…)

The Gospel and Choice, Part 1 – Is the battle for belief played on an even field?

Have you debated the doctrine of election, jaw clenched, over coffee? In a classroom? In your small group?

"Election!"  "Free will!"

“Divine sovereignty!”                                      “Free will!”

It’s a vital topic, but your venue is ill-chosen. Rather, we should be discussing the doctrine of election to the extent we are doing evangelism and being eyewitnesses to God’s transforming power.

That’s how the apostles did it, as traveling evangelists who by the Spirit were applying God’s truth to real life, analyzing their preaching and prayer life, and later the psychological, cognitive and behavioral transformation of their hearers. Only then did they draw conclusions about whom God had elected. (more…)

How do you pick out a thank-you gift for Someone who (literally) has everything?

schoolcolorsblackJust before the end of 2012, the Lord helped me to complete two multi-year writing projects (1000 pages in all) plus two other big papers. It was a major answer to prayer.

Now, I’m a believer in divine grace, and  fully appreciate that I can’t repay or earn his goodness toward me. Nor can my actions please him beyond the total acceptance I already have in the Beloved, [1] so anything I give him will by definition be “re-gifting”: “All things come of thee, O Lord; and of thy own have we given thee.”

Still: I wanted to give God a special thank-offering. (more…)

False teaching – a corrosive, toxic, contaminant

This is how false teaching arrives:

A man with a white lab coat and rubber mallet in his pocket protector arrives in order to “heal you.” And just think, you didn’t even know you were sick! Still, after hmms and haws, he pull a bottle of medicine from a pocket, holds your nose and chucks a spoonful down your throat.

At this point, you gag and retch and run to the sink, where you empty your stomach.

“Ah,” says he, “the case is worse than I had thought! A double dose is what you need!”

You swallow, and retch twice as violently as before and drop to your knees.

“It’s obvious that you stand in need of my remedy worse than most. A triple dose is called for!” You choke it down, falling prone on the floor, your face drained of color, wheezing and tear-streaked.

A peddler of strange elixirs, potions which cannot be bought in just any store; he’s a trickster, and he usually charges plenty for his wares – probably money, definitely a chunk of your soul.

Why must we defend true doctrine and reject the false? I hope it’s not just that we can satisfy our own fussiness. I’ve seen those who love to make things “even”, but for their own mental and psychological satisfaction, as Carl Sandburg wrote in a favorite poem of mine:

The abracadabra boys – have they been in the stacks and cloisters? Have they been to a sea of jargons and brought back jargons? They foregather and make pitty pat with each other in Latin and in their private pig Latin, very ofay. Do they have fun? Sure – their fun is being what they are… (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/238494)

Anal Retentive 5_3True doctrine is not ensuring that our system has all its “t”s crossed and “i”s dotted, nor ducks arranged in order of color and height. Truth speakers need not be pickers of nits or splitters of hairs. Rather, it is making sure that we follow God’s truth and avoid the “teachings of demons” (1 Tim 4:1): the Evil One oversees a factory with round-the-clock shifts, a production line of ideas to draw people away from God. The collection he’s brought out this year is nothing new; they’re old lies, spray painted with this season’s colors. (more…)

You are not a slave!

When it comes to the complex issue of labor and management, the Bible has answers. But are we asking it the right questions?

In the old joke, a man wanted to know God’s will from the Scripture. I’ll open the Bible at random and point, and that will be God’s direction for me. When he opened his eyes, his finger was resting on the verse, “Judas went out and hanged himself.” I’ll try it again, he said: this time he opened to the verse, “Go thou and do likewise.”

God’s Word is true, but those verses were not the answer to that man’s question!

Yet, we commit the same error on the topic of labor: most of the teaching I have run across is based squarely on three Bible passages on the theme of SLAVERY, texts that only indirectly have to do with employers and their employees or labor and management. (more…)

I’m a Dad – what does God want me to do?

What exactly is a father supposed to do? Ask a dozen people and you’ll get two dozen answers. USA Today just ran an editorial yesterday, which stated that “The most important thing is to make sure of their education – from kindergarten through college.” I thought, “Very well, yes, that’s crucial. It’s a positive, measurable goal.”

As a Christian, I believe that God wants me to walk a certain path that the rest of the world doesn’t follow, and that includes how I should live as a father (or a husband, or teacher, or citizen, etc.). Now, we raised four children, who are now adults, and we thought that we were done. However, to my surprise, we are now raising a four-year-old boy who came to us from an abusive background. So I’m not just interested in this theme in theory, I need to know what to do this afternoon when our foster child comes home!

Here are two methods of figuring out what God wants you to do as a father:

Method #1 is what we’ll name the Key Passage Method. There are roughly 1600 references to the word “father” in the Bible, (more…)

‘Dad, are you my priest?’ The role of the father in the Christian home

They keep telling me that the Christian father is the priest of the family. On the other hand, I search the Scriptures and I can’t find any command for him to be a priest; any indication that the father performs the essential duties of a priest; any hint that Dad is a priest in some way that Mom is not. Preachers and bloggers have a few verses to back up the Father-as-Priest teaching, but when I look them up, the doctrine strikes me as imported into the Scripture.

Here are a few blogs, chosen at random:

The most important role of a husband or a father, one that predominated in ancient days and is neglected today, is that of family priest. In Ephesians 6:25-29 [sic; it’s Eph 5], we are told that the husband, is to the wife what Christ is to the Church. [One] important role is that of the priest. A husband becomes the priest of the home…There is no doubt about the priestly role of the wife in a family (specially for the children), but the husband becomes the ‘Chief Priest’ (or High Priest as Christ was).

Now, I’ve read Ephesians 5, and see no reference to any priest. While the husband in some ways is like Christ to his wife, the parallel is by no means absolute: he does not give her salvation, forgive her sins, fill her with the Spirit, or a host of other roles that belong to Jesus only – including, mediating between her and the Father. (more…)

Is wine forbidden in the Bible?

There is a long train of people who are keen to prove that wine in the New Testament era did not contain alcohol, that it was only grape juice. Therefore, Jesus must not have turned water into wine at Cana, nor serve wine at the Last Supper.

Nevertheless: how is it possible that wine (oinos/οἶνος) contain no alcohol if it is a product of fermentation (Mark 2:22) and, if used in excess, causes drunkenness (Eph 5:18; also Prov 20:1, which in the Septuagint uses the word oinos), while at the same time oinos contains no alcohol? In fact, the Greeks had another word for unfermented grape juice, or “must” – it was trux/τρύξ.

Deacons and widows should not be addicted to wine (1 Tim 3:8, Titus 2:3), and that’s wine with alcohol, not grape juice. Paul does not forbid drinking wine, only its abuse.

In fact, Paul’s practical advice that Timothy “use a little wine (again, oinos)” (1 Tim 5:23) makes sense only if that wine contains alcohol: Timothy’s stomach ailments were due to drinking contaminated water, which the alcohol in wine would kill. Likewise, the Good Samaritan treated open wounds with wine and oil, since alcohol is a natural disinfectant.

If Jesus and the disciples celebrated the Passover according to the Bible’s commands, they drank wine, period (Matt 26:27).

Those who love God’s Word need to show extraordinary care, not to make it say anything more or anything less than what it says.