Table Charismata Matters

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Reformation Discussion of Extraordinary Predictive Prophecy Subsequent to the Closing of the Canon of Scripture by the Session of the PRCE

The following is a link to a Presbyterian document that argues that it is in keeping with historic Presbyterianism to admit that there are special cases in which "prophecy" (in some qualified sense) can and does sometimes function in the church after the closing of the Canon of Scripture.

Some Excerpts:

Moreover, notice Gillespie's reluctance to say that the extraordinary foretelling of the future has ceased with the closing of the canon:

...for I dare not say that since the days of the apostles there has never been, or that to the end of the world there shall never be, any raised up by God with such gifts, and for such administrations, as I have now described to be proper to prophets and evangelists, i.e., the foretelling of things to come... (George Gillespie, Miscellany Questions , Chapter 5, section 7, p. 30).

Though Gillespie will "dare not say" that the extraordinary gift of prophecy has ceased with the closing of the canon of Scripture, notice what he believes that he "must say":

I must say it, to the glory of God, there were in the church of Scotland, both in the time of our first reformation, and after the reformation, such extraordinary men as were more than ordinary pastors and teachers, even holy prophets receiving extraordinary revelations from God, and foretelling diverse strange and remarkable things, which did accordingly come to pass punctually, to the great admiration of all who knew the particulars. Such were Mr. Wishart the martyr, Mr. Knox the reformer, also Mr. John Welsh, Mr. John Davidson, Mr. Robert Bruce, Mr. Alexander Simpson, Mr. Fergusson, and others. It were too long to make a narrative here of all such particulars, and there are so many of them stupendous, that to give instance in some few, might seem to derogate from the rest, but if God give me opportunity, I shall think it worth the while to make a collection of these things (George Gillespie, Miscellany Questions , Vol. 2, Chapter 5, section 7, p. 30).

3. There is a 3rd revelation of some particular men, who have foretold things to come even since the ceasing of the canon of the word, as John Huss, Wycliffe, Luther, have foretold things to come, and they certainly fell out. And in our nation of Scotland, Mr. George Wishart foretold that Cardinal Beaton should not come out alive at the gates of the Castle of St. Andrews, but that he should die a shameful death; and he [Beaton-PRCE] was hanged over the window that he did look out at, when he saw the man of God [Wishart-PRCE] burnt. Mr. Knox prophesied of the hanging of the Lord of Grange. Mr. John Davidson uttered prophesies, known to many of the kingdom, diverse holy and mortified preachers in England have done the like (Samuel Rutherford, A Survey of Spiritual Antichrist, London, 1648, p. 42).

Assert. 2. Yet it is not altogether to be denied, but that the Lord may, in particulars of the last kind, sometimes, reveal himself to some, by foretelling events before they come, such as the famine that Agabus foretold of, or Paul's imprisonment were; of such the history of the martyrs and saints do sometimes make mention: and particularly, Athanasius is often advertised of hazards, as is recorded, and in the verity cannot be denied; and of this sort there were many at the reviving of the light of the gospel who, by foretelling of particular events, were famous, as John Huss's foretelling, within a hundred years after him, to follow the outbreaking of reformation; such, it is likely, was Hieronymus Savonarola, who was burnt by the Pope, not as was pretended, for foretelling of events, as they imputed to him, by unlawful means, but for faithful reproving of his faults, as he is described by Philip de Cumius, and other authors: of such many were in this land, as Messrs. Wishart, Knox, Welch, Davidson, etc.. And this cannot be said altogether to be made void: for, although God has now closed the canon of scripture, yet that he should be restrained in his freedom, from manifesting of himself thus, there is no convincing ground to bear it out, especially when experience has often proven the contrary in the most holy men. (James Durham, Commentary upon the Book of Revelation, Glasgow, 1788 edition, cited from SWRB bound photocopy, Vol. 2., pp. 219-224).

Next, Gillespie notes:

... although such prophets be extraordinary, and but seldom raised up in the church, yet there have been, I dare say, not only in primitive times, but amongst our first reformers and others; and upon what Scripture can we pitch for such extraordinary prophets, if not upon those scriptures which are applied by some to the prophesying brethren, or gifted church members? (George Gillespie, Miscellany Questions, Vol. 2, Chapter 5, section 7, p. 30).

There is difference to be put betwixt the simple foretelling of an event, which may be of God, and a conclusion which may be drawn therefrom; this may be of ourselves, as we may see in the predictions of these, Acts 21 [vs. 11-PRCE], who foretold of Paul's imprisonment at Jerusalem, yet was not that to divert him from his going there, as many collected; that therefore was not from God, as Paul's pressure in the spirit to go notwithstanding, does clear; every such prediction therefore cannot make be made a rule of duty, seeing the Lord may have other good ends of trial, advertisement and confirmation in it. And we will not find, that any have made use of such particular revelations, as from them to press a duty upon others, that would not otherwise be warrantable, although, when it concurs with other grounds, it may have its weight for swaying in lawful things (James Durham, Commentary upon the Book of Revelation, Glasgow, 1788 edition, cited from SWRB bound photocopy, Vol. 2, p. 222).

Wayne Grudem once surveyed the historical evidence for the apparent operation of the gifts of the Spirit among Reformed, Reformational, and Puritan ministers. He wrote in his book The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today (Revised Edition):

I may add a personal note at this point: When I first found this material in Baxter, I photocopied these two pages and sent them to J. I. Packer, whose doctoral dissertation at Oxford was on Baxter's work. Packer sent back the following note:

By the way, some weeks ago you faxed me an extract from Baxter about God making personal informative revelations. This was the standard Puritan view, as I have observed it—they weren't cessationists in the Richard Gaffin sense.15 [bold added by me] - This quote can be read directly from HERE.
That statement came from J.I. Packer who is well known for being well versed in the writings of the Puritans. 

Also highly recommended:    The charismatic covenanters by Steve Hays

see also this webpage: Extraordinary Gifts and Church Officers 

No comments:

Post a Comment