Wednesday, August 30, 2006

God is not a God of disorder but of peace

In a comment on my Theology quiz results post, TS asked about 1 Corinthians 14:33 "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord's people." (TNIV):
Is it relevant only for prophets speaking in turn, or is it a case against "untoward" manifestations in church service? Are non-charismatics right in accusing charismatic services as being out of order based on this verse?
This is an excellent question!

It seems to me that this verse gives a general principle, which here is being applied specifically to gatherings of the church but can be applied more widely. I don't think the specific application here is only to prophecy, but to everything described in verses 26 to 32. Indeed the point is basically to support the last part of verse 26, "Everything must be done so that the church may be built up." (TNIV). Thus it does apply to "untoward" manifestations of any kind, but of course that depends on exactly what is considered "untoward".

On the second question, I wonder if it is based on a misunderstanding of typical charismatic church gatherings. Now I accept that some charismatic meetings are disordered, and thereby wrong according to Paul's teaching here. But these are the minority, or at least I hope they are, and I don't seek to defend them. However, from my own experience the majority of charismatic gatherings are in fact rather well ordered. It is just that the type of order found in them is not the same as is found in more formal church services. But in fact these meetings are much closer to what Paul is recommending here than those formal church services are.

It is I guess hard to define a typical charismatic gathering, and my own experience is not all that wide. But from what I have seen, these meetings are usually clearly led by one person who is in charge of what is happening, and who may delegate to others authority over parts of the meeting. In fact times when the meeting is thrown open for congregational participation are usually a small part of the whole, if they occur at all; Paul's "two or three prophets" (verse 29) tends to be a guideline. In most cases people only speak if given explicit permission by the leader - it helps that in larger meetings they need a microphone. Good leaders exercise discernment by giving permission to speak only to those they know and trust, and when they are unsure of the appropriateness of what is said they make this clear and ask God to give them and the congregation discernment. There is little disorder here.

The times which might seem disorderly are "ministry" times, when people are invited to respond to the message by coming forward for prayer. This necessarily involves several things happening at once; but then I don't suppose the 3000 baptised on the day of Pentecost were dealt with strictly one at a time. But the prayer for each individual is generally led by people authorised by the church to do so. The difficulties for some are with the manifestations which sometimes occur at these times such as falling over, laughter and other loud noises, of the kinds associated with the Toronto Blessing. I can appreciate that these are disturbing to some, but in general they are happening with the blessing of whoever is leading the meeting, and so can hardly be called disorderly. In well run meetings those who manifest very openly will be talked to by experienced stewards, and if necessary taken aside for special prayer.

So, the principle "God is not a God of disorder but of peace" certainly applies to charismatic church meetings. And it is one which leaders of those meetings generally seek to put into practice. But I don't think it can be used as a general condemnation of those meetings. Rather, it teaches that meetings should be led firmly but sensitively, by leaders authorised by the church and following the leading of the Holy Spirit.

God is not a spot in the brain

Some interesting research reported by the BBC:
There is no single "God spot" in the brain, Canadian scientists say.
Studies on nuns have shown that personal experiences of communication with God cannot be located in any particular part of the brain. But this is not a surprise to me. As Father Stephen Wang says in this report,
True Christian mysticism is an encounter with the living God. We meet him in the depths of our souls. It is an experience that goes far beyond the normal boundaries of human psychology and consciousness.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Singleness: Köstenberger versus Maken

Although I don't always agree with Andreas Köstenberger on gender-related issues, I appreciate what he has to say about singleness, part 1 and part 2. But I don't appreciate Debbie Maken's response, preaching that for most people it is wrong to remain single.

Unlike either of these two protagonists, but like significant Christian leaders such as John Stott and Mike Pilavachi, leader of the event I just got back from, I am single myself. This is neither from deliberate choice nor from a settled conviction that God has called me to singleness. In fact I rather believe that God has called me to get married at some time. But, from a combination of circumstances and a belief at various times that now was not the right time to look for a partner, this has not yet happened, even though I have now passed 50. A few years ago I was engaged briefly, but it didn't last. More recently I signed up for a short time with Christian Connection, a dating agency, and made a few friends through it but it didn't seem right to pursue anything. I continue to struggle with loneliness, as one of the very few singles anywhere near my age in my church or among my friends. And the attitude of the church is not always helpful. But for the moment I also appreciate the freedom from other responsibilities that gives me time to serve God, and to pursue other interests which are mostly related to God's work. And I continue to trust God to bring the right marriage partner into my life at the right time if that is right, and to continue to provide for me as a single man if that is his better way for me.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Theology quiz results

I'm safely back from Momentum, and intending to blog about it when I get round to it. But first I have been looking at what other bloggers have been up to while I have been away. I have already responded to Adrian on the Better Bibles Blog.

Rick of ThisLamp took a couple of theological quizzes, so I decided to do the same, and like him to share my results.

On Eucharistic theology, I seem to fall right in the middle, or perhaps I'm just confused. The quiz had to ask me a tiebreaker to classify me as Zwingli. Here are the results:

You scored as Zwingli. You are Ulrich Zwingli. You believe that bread and wine are mere symbols of the absent Jesus. You believe in interpreting Scripture reasonably.











Eucharistic theology
created with

And then on my general theological worldview, I was a little surprised to find myself classified as Wesleyan, although again with something of an eclectic mix of views. I might have come out more Charismatic/Pentecostal if I had accepted that tongues were important for salvation, which is not a teaching of most charismatics. But then I rather agree with Rick that there are not enough questions in this test to distinguish between all these different theologies. My results:

You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/ Wesleyan


Emergent/ Postmodern


Charismatic/ Pentecostal


Neo orthodox


Reformed Evangelical




Classical Liberal


Modern Liberal


Roman Catholic


What's your theological worldview?
created with

Friday, August 18, 2006

Getting The Momentum Going

This blog seems to have lost some momentum in the last week or so. This is largely because I have been unexpectedly busy. August is usually a quiet month for me, as for most people it seems, at least in the northern hemisphere. But for various reasons I have been rather busy this week. The blogging I have been doing has mostly been on the Better Bibles Blog: four short posts by me spread over the last two Fridays.

The blogging momentum won't be getting going again here for the next few days, in fact not until next Thursday at the earliest. This is because I am going away, with no Internet access, to a Christian event called Momentum. This is an offshoot of Soul Survivor, a network of Christian youth events with an evangelical and charismatic basis. They write:
The heart of Soul Survivor is to envision young people of all denominations to capture first a vision of Jesus, and then to equip, train, empower and release them into his ministry in their every day lives.
Last year they had over 22,000 guests at their three summer camping events, held at Shepton Mallet, Somerset - 3-4 hours drive south west of here. For several years the young people from my church have gone to this event and had a great time, as have my pastor and his wife. Their excuse for going has been to take their own children and help to lead the other youth, but it seems to have been a real blessing to them as well, and has made me want to see what it is all about.

This year, a group of teens from my church is currently at the regular Soul Survivor youth camp. They come home tomorrow but will be replaced by a group of mostly twenty-somethings going to Momentum, which is designed for that age group.

Well, it is some years since I no longer qualified for that group. But I decided to pretend to be in my twenties for a few days and join my rather younger friends for a week under canvas. I haven't camped in Britain for many years, only in Egypt and Australia where warmth was guaranteed. So I am relieved that the five day weather forecast is looking quite good.

I am looking forward to learning all the latest worship songs, and using them to worship God among thousands of others. I am looking forward to fellowship with a group of enthusiastic young (many in both ways) Christians. And I am looking forward to God inspiring me and equipping me for whatever he has in store for me.

I hope to tell you all a bit more in about a week's time.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Bible Puzzler

Lingamish has invited me to be a Bible Puzzler, and I have agreed to be an occasional participant. The purpose of this is:
  1. To demonstrate Bible study skills.
  2. To model collaborative scholarship.
  3. To promote application of the Bible to real-world situations.
He is looking for a few more bloggers to join him, so if you are interested please contact him, by comment on his new blog. Meanwhile I will be interested to see how this series goes.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I'm a PneumaBlogger!

Rich Tatum has added me to his PneumaBlogs list of "Select Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Assemblies of God Bloggers".

Saturday, August 12, 2006


I would like to thank Lingamish for bringing to my attention a very interesting site called Post-Charismatic. This site consists of a series of articles, or a short e-book, which Rob McAlpine, a Canadian and former pastor, has written about the charismatic movement, and about those he calls "post-charismatics" because they have been through the charismatic movement and left it, without necessarily rejecting its principles. (His "post-charismatics" should not be confused with "ex-charismatics" like the cessationist Dan Phillips.)

McAlpine's history of the charismatic movement is very interesting, but deliberately focuses on three main areas of distorted, or at least controversial, teaching which have affected the movement: Latter Rain, Prosperity and Shepherding. He seems himself to be one of many people who has been involved in the charismatic movement but has become confused and disillusioned by these kinds of teaching. Indeed some of these people seem to be so hurt that they have entirely given up on churches or on the gifts of the Spirit. McAlpine's focus in his series is on helping such people to recover from such shipwrecks the essential features of their Spirit-filled Christian life.

I can agree with most of what McAlpine's positive attitude towards the central charismatic teachings and negative assessments of the controversial teachings he describes. But he does seem to me rather negative about the charismatic movement as a movement. It seems to me, from my British perspective, that there is still a lot of hope for the movement. While it has been damaged by some distorted teachings, they have by no means destroyed it. There is still a vibrant core of charismatic believers and churches who have avoided the excesses of these teachings, while discerningly accepting what is good in them.

So, I see no reason to call myself a post-charismatic, to dissociate myself from the charismatic movement, or to accept that, as Lingamish suggests, the word "charismatic" is a slur. I am proud to be a charismatic Christian, as well as an evangelical at least in the British sense which is somewhat weaker than the American one. Yes, I and my church need continuing vigilance against all kinds of errors, and against the dangers of shallowness and hype. But, as we follow the example of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit, we can look forward in confidence to continuing to do great things for God.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Jesus is Our Fully Human Example

One of the most important lessons I learned for my Christian life was that Jesus is fully human. I had recited that as part of the Creeds since childhood, and I had believed it at least in theory. But in my first few years as a Bible-believing Christian, in an environment where good Bible teaching was highly valued but the Holy Spirit was mostly ignored, the humanity of the second Person of the Trinity was also given little attention.

I did of course learn that it was necessary for Jesus to be human for him to take on the cross the punishment deserved by the rest of humankind. But the idea I had of Jesus living on earth was of a divine being with superhuman powers in a human form, perhaps with an actual human body. This Jesus was portrayed as someone entirely unique, someone whom ordinary Christians could not aspire to be like. And Jesus now reigning in heaven just seemed to be totally divine.

Let me first make a disclaimer to avoid any misunderstanding. I accept and believe that Jesus is the divine Son of God, fully God as well as fully human. The Bible clearly teaches this. But it also clearly teaches the other side of the picture, that he is fully human.

It was only after I experienced the Holy Spirit for myself (I received the so-called "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" and spoke in tongues) that I started to understand the wider significance of Jesus' full humanity. Perhaps this is because I started reading books with a rather different perspective. I started to understand that Jesus is the perfect example for us to follow. Paul wrote, "I follow the example of Christ", and on this basis told the Corinthians to "Follow my example" (1 Corinthians 11:1, TNIV). Thus Jesus is an example even for us to follow.

You may ask as perhaps I did, how can this be? Jesus is the sinless Son of God, and we are sinful people, so how can we aspire to follow his example? The answer comes here:
we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
What an encouragement! Jesus faced the same kinds of trials and temptations that we do, and emerged victorious through them all! If he did, so can we. This is made clear here:
let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
The word translated "pioneer" here means something like "the first to follow a path", perhaps "trailblazer". Jesus was the first to run the race and to live the life of faith, and, because he did, we too can. (Yes, I know it is theologically controversial to suggest that Jesus had faith, but I won't go into that issue just now.)

Furthermore, if we are called to follow Jesus' example, that must mean that we should expect to do the same kinds of things which Jesus did. This is confirmed in John's gospel, where Jesus said:
Very truly I tell you, all who have faith in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
John 14:12 (TNIV©)
Note that although this was spoken to the twelve apostles, the promise is not restricted to them, or even to those who lived in their lifetime, but is a promise to all who have faith in Jesus. There is no room here for cessationism.

What kinds of works is Jesus talking about here? The answer just came as a surprise to me. Jesus is talking about the very same works which, in the previous verse, he was appealing to as evidence that "I am in the Father and the Father is in me" (John 14:11, TNIV). He is not referring to acts of kindness which any person can do, but to the miraculous signs which proved that God had sent him, signs such as turning water into wine, "the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory" (John 2:11, TNIV), and feeding the five thousand, a sign which caused many to believe in him (John 6:14). It seems that Jesus expects "all who have faith in me" to do not just similar works but even greater ones.

The objection that I would have made to this argument is that Jesus performed his miracles, and especially these great signs, because he was divine and so omnipotent. There is, I thought, no way that we humans can do anything even remotely comparable, because we are limited to what our natural human bodies can do. This argument might seem to be decisive, but the Bible clearly does not allow us to take this position. Firstly, it is contradicted by John 14:12, as we have already seen. And then, from a quite different angle, it is also contradicted by this passage:
But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Mark 13:32 (TNIV©)
Jesus didn't know something, so in his ministry, at least at this point, he was not operating in his omniscient divine nature. Yet he did know that the angels didn't know this, something which was not known to everyone. How did he have some supernatural knowledge but not all knowledge? The only answer, it seems, is that he was operating in his human nature but the Holy Spirit was revealing some divine truth to him. (I have taken this argument from Confronting the Powers by C. Peter Wagner, pp.129-130.)

It is of course no coincidence that Jesus' ministry began soon after he received the Holy Spirit. Before his baptism, Jesus seems to have lived a normal life. No childhood miracles are recorded in the biblical gospels, although some implausible fables are found in non-canonical gospels and in the Qur'an. The young Jesus was an exceptional student (Luke 2:46-47) but showed no special powers. Then at his baptism the Holy Spirit came upon him, and immediately led him into the wilderness to be tempted (Mark 1:9-13). Only after that did he begin to preach and to heal in the power of the Spirit (Luke 4:14-15, Matthew 4:23), and to drive out demons by the Spirit of God (Matthew 12:28).

The implication seems clear: Jesus carried out all of his ministry as a human being filled with the Holy Spirit. He exercised the gifts of the Spirit, such as prophecy in his prophetic preaching, healing and miraculous powers. The divine Son of God had voluntarily "emptied himself" (Philippians 2:7, RSV) of his divine attributes like omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence and submitted himself to the limitations of a human body. But as a perfect human, perfectly filled by the Holy Spirit, he could operate perfectly in the gifts of the Spirit, and so do the great works which proved that God had sent him.

So what of us? We too, as Christians, have received the Holy Spirit - whether or not we have had a specific experience of the Spirit's power. We are not perfectly filled with the Spirit because of our sinfulness, and need to seek continual new filling (Ephesians 5:18; the verb "be filled" is in the present continuous tense). But the same Holy Spirit who filled Jesus also fills us, and so in the power of the Spirit we can do the same works that Jesus did, and indeed even greater works, probably because there is, or should be, not one person but the whole church for the Spirit to work through.

This is not all a matter of great miracles. Through the Spirit we can experience the same close relationship with the Father which Jesus experienced. We can hear the Father speaking to us and let him speak through us. We can aim to be like Jesus in this:
the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
John 5:19 (TNIV©)
And as we do what we see the Father doing, as revealed to us by the Holy Spirit, we will find ourselves, together as the church, doing even greater things than Jesus did: bringing his power, his compassion, and his saving message not just to one small country, as he did during his life on earth, but to the whole world.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Is Conservative America Waking Up to Global Warming?

Is conservative America finally waking up to the damage which its lifestyle of unrestricted oil use is doing to our planet? Are the ostriches at last taking their heads out of the sand and looking at the irrefutable evidence that global warming is happening, and is very probably caused by burning of fossil fuels? There are at least hopeful signs of this even in the Bible belt of Kentucky, from the blog of the influential Ben Witherington, Professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary. But then Asbury, with its continuing emphasis on "well-trained, sanctified, Spirit-filled, evangelistic ministry", is sadly not a typical part of the Bible belt. I will be more hopeful for the future of the earth when the same attitude spreads across Kentucky from the Lexington area to Louisville and Al Mohler's Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Cessationism Undermines the Bible

My previous posting about tongues continues a theme which has been developing on this blog in the last few weeks, my argument against the cessationist position that the gifts of the Holy Spirit no longer operate in today's church. Here I want to make what seems to me one of the most telling arguments against cessationism, which is that it undermines the authority of the Bible.

I am glad that on this matter I can agree with Adrian Warnock, despite our past differences on the position of women in the church. Adrian wrote, arguing against cessationism:
Why, on the one hand, are we at liberty to ignore Paul's clear commands to the Corinthians to “eagerly desire spiritual gifts” and to "not forbid speaking in tongues” (1 Corinthians 14:39) when, on the other hand, we are expected to accept all of his other commands to local churches as applying to us today? If these two commands do not apply to us, which other of Paul's commands also do not apply? How are we then meant to decide which of Paul's commands we are going to obey and which we are going to ignore?

Many of my readers have appreciated my posting on Bible deists, based largely on Jack Deere's book Surprised by the Voice of God. So I will turn again to this book. In it Deere uses much the same argument as Adrian's when he explains, in chapter 18, "Unbelief through Theology", how when he was a cessationist and Bible deist he used to argue against those who claimed that God speaks today apart from Scripture. Here are some extracts from his argument, starting on p.275:
But my opponents were not so easily discouraged. In desperation they searched the New Testament until they came up with some examples of nonapostolic people hearing God's voice just like the apostles did. They used examples where God spoke very specifically about nonmoral matters. For example, Agabus, a prophet, not an apostle, accurately predicted a famine that "spread over the entire Roman world" (Acts 11:28). This prophecy was particularly embarrassing. It concerned food, or better, the lack of food. It was one of the topics about which I said God didn't speak. ... How could I discard examples like these? It wasn't easy. My opponents were now shooting bullets that the shield of the apostles couldn't stop. I needed a bulletproof vest to survive this attack.
Deere continues by finding an argument from "historical necessity" to explain that Agabus' prophecy was unique. But his opponents rejected this, and so he writes, on pp.276-277 (emphasis is Deere's):
My bulletproof vest of historical necessity couldn't protect me against cannon shells. How could I argue that the modern church was no longer faced with "historical necessities" that required answers from the voice of God? ... I needed a fortress or else I was going down before these kinds of biblical examples. At this point, I discovered the very fortress I needed. It was impenetrable!

Only During the Period of the Open Canon

"You have to understand that these kinds of revelations were given before the Bible was completed. Neither Agabus nor the others had all the completed Bible, which tells us how important unity really is," I replied. That was the clincher. In these arguments, the phrase I dearly loved was, "that happened during the period of the open canon." The word "canon" means the list of books that belong in the Bible. The canon was "open" while the New Testament writings were being added to it. Somehow everything was different in this period. It was supernatural, perhaps too supernatural. It was also too subjective. But that was only because it was "the period of the open canon." What a great phrase! I could demolish any argument with it. Any example could be explained away by that profound phrase. Let God speak as often as he wanted during the period of the open canon. Let him speak to nonapostles, even to absolute dummies, or better yet, even through dumb animals. None of these examples was relevant because they all came from the period of the open canon. Now, however, we had the period of the Bible. And the Bible had replaced all other forms of God's communication. There weren't two tracks of revelation - only one, the Bible. So let my opponent use any biblical example from Genesis to Revelation. It didn't matter if the example had the force of an atomic bomb, I had found a theological fortress that could withstand the blast. "Sorry," I would say, "your example comes from the time before the Bible was completed. You can't use it now that we are in the period of the completed Bible." ...

Perhaps by now you've come to appreciate the brilliant character of my methodology. No matter what example you brought to me from the Bible I could discount its contemporary relevance. It never occurred to me that these four arguments actually eliminated the use of all biblical examples in theological discussion. Every biblical example must be drawn from the period of the open canon.

This way of arguing actually meant, "I have made up my mind on this matter and I will not allow any verse from the Bible to challenge or correct my position."

In other words, Deere is effectively showing that his former cessationist position, although on the surface exalting the Bible above fallible human experience, in fact undermines the Bible and robs it of its authority. For his argument about the period of the open canon can be applied not just to biblical examples, but also to explicit biblical teaching. For example, Paul explicitly teaches the Corinthians to "eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy" (1 Corinthians 14:1, TNIV). But if these gifts operated only during the period of the open canon, then this instruction of Paul's applies only to this period. Yet there is no explicit teaching in the Bible about this limitation. So, in this case, as Adrian wrote:
How are we then meant to decide which of Paul's commands we are going to obey and which we are going to ignore?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Answering a Pyromaniac on Tongues

There is an interesting discussion going on mainly between Adrian Warnock and Dan Phillips (one of the Pyromaniacs) about the gift of tongues. Dan argues against Adrian from the cessationist position which I have mentioned in other recent postings, that this gift and all other gifts of the Holy Spirit are no longer in operation today.

I made the following comment on part 3 of Dan's series - I could have demolished more of his arguments, but chose what seemed to be his weakest points:
Dan, a couple of points to clarify some of your very dodgy exegesis.

First, on Acts 2:17-18, you seem to imply that you understand this to refer to the authoring of Scripture. Thus you seem to restrict "all flesh ... your sons and daughters ... my male servants and female servants" to the Apostles, and the very few others who wrote Scripture. Was the audience restricted to the apostles' parents? Were any of the Scripture authors anyone's daughters? Is "all flesh" to be understood as referring to something like a dozen people at most? No, surely the clear intention of Peter, as reported by Luke, is to say that in these last days (or is today a period after the last days?) this prophecy can be applied to everyone, that all can expect to prophesy. This is of course precisely in agreement with what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:1, that all should aspire to prophesy.

And then, referring to 1 Corinthians 14:21-22 and Isaiah 28:11-12, you wrote "The "tongues" Paul writes of are the "tongues" Isaiah wrote of, and those "tongues" are human, foreign languages." I don't think so. Look at the context in Isaiah 28. In verses 10 and 13 we have the very words which God uses to speak to his people: צַו לָצָו צַו לָצָו קַו לָקָו קַו לָקָו tsaw latsaw tsaw latsaw qaw laqaw qaw laqaw. These are NOT words in any foreign language, at least as far as I know. Most Bible translations do a disservice by trying to translate the words as if they were Hebrew, although really they are not, they are nonsense syllables (in fact I wouldn't blame you for suggesting that they are something like some modern charismatic "tongues"!). The point is that they are supposed to be some kind of nonsense baby talk - and (in v.13) they are not supposed to be a comprehensible message, because God's purpose is that it should not be understood.

This is of course a rather complex issue, but it certainly does not support your contention that biblical tongues are always real human languages. In fact it is probably a counter-example, to go along with other counter-examples such as 1 Corinthians 14:4. And (apart from your suggestion that Paul is saying that speaking in tongues is something one should not do, refuted by v.18) the only argument you have to dismiss the counter-examples is that they contradict Paul's "own flat-out and in-so-many-words statement that tongues are human languages" - which is in fact not at all "flat-out and in so many words" referring to ALL tongues but a quotation from a rather complex and obscure passage in Isaiah which does not necessarily refer to all tongues or to human languages at all. So, it seems to me, you are using the unclear to explain the clear, the opposite of how you should do exegesis in such circumstances.

In part 2 you wrote, "An ironclad case can be (and has been) made from Scripture that tongues were always supernaturally acquired human languages." Is this your ironclad case? (Where by the way is there any indication that the tongues of Isaiah 28 were supernaturally acquired?) It seems that your iron cladding is in fact very thin and rusty, and can very easily be demolished by the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, which has supernatural power to destroy strongholds. And since all of what you wrote in part 2 depends on this "ironclad case", now that that case has collapsed the whole of part 2 has been invalidated. In fact I don't think much is left of any of your arguments.

And then I wrote the following as a comment on part 4 of the series:
Dan, I won't make a long comment here like I just made on part 3 (which in fact managed to refute part 2 as well). But I do want to object to your caricature of charismatic services. You wrote:
If you've been to many Charismatic services, you don't need me to go on. You could fill in gaps yourself—how the music is geared and chanted to excite the emotions directly, the preaching aimed at working directly on the emotions, the bodily choreography devised to create a mood and a feeling. It's sheer psychological manipulation, though in many cases no doubt with the best of intentions.
This is probably an accurate description of some charismatic services. It is certainly not an accurate description of all of them. In particular, your description of charismatic preaching is so wide of the mark as to be libellous. You can for example download and listen to the sermons from my charismatic Anglican church (I recommend the recent series on Acts by Mones Farah), or Adrian Warnock's sermons (which I admit I haven't listened to myself). Listen and then tell us if these are really "aimed at working directly on the emotions ... sheer psychological manipulation".

I am sure that Adrian and I, as well as very many other charismatics, would agree on teaching that Christians need a proper balance between the Spirit and the Word, avoiding both the over-emphasis on the Spirit of your caricature charismatics and the over-emphasis on the Word of many cessationists. This is the main point I was trying to make in my own recent posting on Bible deists, especially the final passage quoted from the former cessationist Jack Deere who, it seems to me, has now found something like the right balance.

I am repeating these comments here for a clearer record, in other words so that Dan cannot just delete them if he can't answer them, and also to bring others into this discussion.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Many new hits

I am encouraged to see from my hit counter (click the map on the right side panel, or here) that I am gaining readership from all round the world, from every continent except Antarctica, including something over 70 locations in the USA, one in the Yukon and one right in the middle of the Australian desert - if the higher resolution version of the map is accurate.

I guess my Scholarly and Fundamentalist Approaches series and my Bible Deists posting have been popular. The latter has been linked to from Henry Neufeld's Participatory Bible Study blog - thank you, Henry. This may have generated a number of extra hits. Henry offers a useful, and freely downloadable, introduction "I Want to Study the Bible" - although I would never have the patience to read through a passage his recommended twelve times! And, from a brief look, there is a lot of other good material on that blog.