Continuationism and proving Van Til right on evidence

Whenever I doubt the truth of presuppositional apologetics, I read discussions where TRs doubt that God’s power gifts continue today.  Now, I have no problem with someone coming up with a logical argument that the Spirit’s power isn’t active today.  Fair enough.  I just think a lot of the conversations are funny.

A note on prophesy:  this is one of the most debated terms in the Bible. The problem is that the NT really doesn’t give a neat usage of the term.  Older Puritan writers often equated it with Preaching, in which case the gift obviously continues today.   Most people, cessationist or otherwise, see that usage won’t stand up to five minutes of Scrutiny.  Even worse, some say it is the Spirit applying the truths (timeless, of course; not messy historical contingencies) to day-to-day situations.  In that case, everyone of God’s children should prophesy.  But that seems inadequate and ignores almost all of the NT texts.

A quick rejoinder:  But prophesy doesn’t always mean telling the future.  Sure.  But that did happen.

But God’s word meant the death penalty if your prophesy didn’t come true.   Okay, I’ll grant that for the moment (though I think you can find examples in the OT where godly men were less than 100% accurate and they didn’t die).  But even with that terrifying injunction, you really don’t see NT believers afraid to prophesy.  That’s just the plain truth of the matter.  In fact–and it’s funny that the most rabid anti-theonomists become theonomists on this point–Paul urges all to prophesy.   I doubt the conversation went like this:

Paul:  Pursue all gifts, especially that you may prophesy, but be careful because if you are less than 100% accurate I am going to kill you.

Anyway, to the conversation.

Cessationist:  Show me one example of a Reformed Christian believing continuation of gifts continue.

Continuationist:  (insert example of Richard Cameron and Donald Cargill prophesying/speaking the truth)

Cessationist:  Yeah, well that doesn’t count.

Translation:  you have your facts and I have my theory.  Too bad for your facts.

Why continue the conversation?

Prophecy and Sanctity

I think we should all agree, that whatever conclusions one draws about the continuation of prophecy (or other gifts) today, whether in Old Testament or New, there was not necessarily a correlate between personal holiness and the ability to prophecy.   I even think cessationists can use this argument against Roman Catholics.

In the Old Testament and in today’s history we see a number of people who were either temporarily immoral or reprobate accurately prophesying.  I have in mind Balaam, Saul and others.   Some were even good men who prophecied correctly but disobeyed God later and paid for it (the prophet who was killed by the lion; and even more troubling, the prophet who lied to him!).

I am currently reading Jack Deere’s Surprised by the Voice of God.  Much of it is silly and dated, though there are a few important chapters.   One troubling chapter is on Paul Cain.  Cain, to whom I will not link, accurately prophecied numerous times beyond dispute (which forever buries the hard Princetonian case).  As many know, Cain later fell into the most wicked of sins.   Does that negate his previous accurate prophecies?  I can’t imagine why, especially if we consider how many OT prophets either disobeyed God, were reprobate, or something like that–yet despite that they accurately prophecied.

This distinction can help cessationists because many will be confronted with miraculous claims by Orthodox and Romanist apologists.  The older response was that these claims were simply fraudulent or demonic.  While many in fact are, after a while such a denial begins to produce cognitive dissonance, which can be dangerous for some (and is one of the reasons that leads to the Convertskii).