Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I Know What You Did Last Summer

Imagine the possibilities when you cross this with this.

Given the life (both past and present) of the average college student combined with ability to see things and the willingness to call them out, this should be a real barnburner.

The good thing is that, as he informs us, he doesn’t talk about it.

Except he did.

That’s why there’s both an audio file and a transcript.

Of course, I jest … a little.

On a serious note, and perhaps I will write more later, this “seeing things” is the reason why a solid doctrine of biblical authority is so important. And it’s why I think cessationism is the only consistent position.

Once the door is open to visions, impressions, prophecies, words of knowledge, or the like, there is little reason to stop.

Now some do stop, to be sure, but as I say, there is little reason to stop. Saying “It doesn’t pass the smell test,” puts way too much authority in your olfactory senses.

In general, I am opposed to demonstrating absurdity by being absurd. I don’t think it either wise or fair to run to the extremes to argue against a position. And it would be hard to say this example by Driscoll is anything other than extreme.

But I don’t really want to talk about Driscoll here (though someone who engages with him regularly told me recently that he thinks Driscoll is more humble and teachable now than he was five years ago).

But for those who are continuationists, how would you refute Driscoll on this one? Or do you agree with him?

I suppose you could say you are “open but cautious.” Driscoll certainly wasn’t cautious here. And your caution would cause you to stop short of this. But what biblical basis would you invoke for such caution?

I also wonder about the import of 2 Timothy 3:16-17. If everything necessary to make us adequate for every good work is found in the inspired writings, then what purpose do these visions serve? Or the impressions?

If I understand 2 Timothy 3:16-17 properly, it means that Driscoll was equipped for the good work of counseling these people by the Scriptures. The visions were unnecessary. And I think that is significant.

Furthermore, by his own admission, they are sometimes wrong. I am going to go out on a limb and say that a wrong vision will undermine your credibility as a counselor. Imagine trying to counsel a husband you have just accused of adultery based on the TV screen in your head when he knows you aren’t telling the truth.

In fact, I think this issue of “being equipped for every good work” is an undervalued piece of the discussion about cessationism and continuationism, at least in the stuff I have read. I think we cannot have a full-orbed and robust theology of revelation if you don’t reckon with these verses and their impact on ongoing revelation.

If we define “every good work” as being every thing God has called us to be and do, then we need only the Scriptures and the wisdom found in them as applied to life.

That doesn’t preclude the use of common grace wisdom in application. Nor does it preclude the involvement of the arts and sciences in daily living.

But I think more serious consideration needs to be given to 2 Timothy 3:16-17. If the inspired Scripture equips us for every good work, then it is hard to see what role these other types of sign gifts play for us.


Steve Davis said...

With the guys I work with I don't want that gift. I am with criminals every day in my prison job. What I know from interviews is enough. I don't want to see more stuff. I think at this point what Driscoll is doing and saying is dangerous. Where God's Word and Spirit are present we don't need visions.

Larry said...

Good point. I don't want it either and the people I work with aren't even in prison now (though some used to be). Some things in life you just don't want to know.

I wonder if you might (here or at your own blog) take me up on the questions of why this is dangerous and how and why you would distinguish your own position. I think you are a bit more open on this than I am, and perhaps as a sane person with some sympathy towards it you might have some insight as to how biblically you would address this. (I am not trying to bait you with this. I am curious.)

Steve Davis said...

I wrote an article on SI in January 2009.

In that article I stated my openness to God using dreams and visons analogous to early NT times in pioneer missionary situations. The evidence is anecdotal but so widespread that it became difficult to deny the possibility. One excerpt from that article:

"As in the book of Acts, this act might be expected in unique pioneer situations or where there is no access to the gospel or no Scriptures in the vernacular. This does not lead to seeking visions and dreams as integral and common occurrences in mission. After all parsimony was the rule for dreams and visions in that God used them sparingly."

Put another way - Is God only at work where the Church has obediently sent missionaries to preach the Gospel?

From this position I have been accused of being New Evangelical and open to the Charismatic movements, etc. which is nonsense. However from my reading of NT and the sufficiency of Scripture I see no need for dreams, visions, prophecy where the Word is accessible. God used them at the beginning of new initiatives not as an ongoing activity. And to allow for such leads into such great danger, spiritual pride, seeking the spectacular, and subjectivity.

So I have little time or tolerance for voices, dreams, visions, words of prophecy where we have the final Word. I shudder when someone says “Jesus told me…….” And even Driscoll admits he doesn't always get it right. You can't afford to be wrong when you are claiming to see sin in people and events from their youth or abuse.

Jon Gleason said...

Steve and I are pretty much on the same page on this topic (if not on a lot of others :)). Driscoll is claiming a spiritual gift which has ceased. Accepting the possibility of miraculous events in isolated situations for specific purposes, particularly where the Scriptures are not accessible, is not the same as holding a continuationist position.

The content of what he is seeing is something that God would not be putting before his eyes, so if he really is seeing it, we know the source. And your point on II Tim 3:16-17 is very well taken.

Steve's argument was that there is no reason that something like the Cornelius vision could not be repeated. It has nothing to do with the sufficiency of Scripture, because Cornelius didn't have Scripture. It has nothing to do with a spiritual gift, because Cornelius did not yet have the baptism of the Spirit. It was a special event that fits none of the usual categorizations. I believe Steve's argument is essentially correct.

I would not argue that such events still do happen, because I see nothing in Scripture to tell me they will, but there are enough accounts to make me suspect it does happen. And I see nothing in Scripture to tell me it won't happen.

That position is irrelevent to the Mark Driscolls of this world. He has the Word, and what he is describing is nothing like anything Cornelius saw, or any other vision recorded in Scripture.

Paul spoke in II Cor. 12 about being caught up to the third heaven. Driscoll is plumbing the depths of a different place.