Table Charismata Matters

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Testimonies of the Supernatural Among Respected Christian Leaders

The following are testimonies of the supernatural by respected and respectable Christian leaders, some of whom hold to a cessationist theological tradition (and therefore don't believe in the continuation of the charismatic gifts). Cessationists tend to distance themselves from alleged supernatural occurrences. They are almost embarrassing to them. That's what makes some of these testimonies even more credible.

Alvin Plantinga is a well known philosopher in the world of academia who is also a Christian. The world's top philosophers and atheists all know him and sometimes interact with his works. In 2017 Plantinga won one of the world's leading religion prizes, the Templeton Prize. He has a testimony of an experience that seems to be supernatural in origin. HERE'S THE LINK.

R.C. Sproul is a cessationist who denies that the revelatory gifts are for the church today (e.g. see this video of his criticism of modern prophecies and words of knowledge HERE). Yet, he himself seems to have received a word of knowledge in his younger days. Listen to the following YouTube video.

Sproul apparently received a Word of Knowledge
(original file in its entirety can be listened to HERE, the first file)

In his friendly debate with continuationist Adrian Warnock, cessationist Douglas Wilson shared a story in which he experienced what charismatics would consider an instance of a prophecy, or a word of knowledge (at 20 minutes and 27 seconds into the debate).

Wilson shares the same story in one of his blogs (with slightly lesser details). Here's a quote:

10. As Calvinists we believe that God is in everything, and behind everything. And so, there is a sense in which a man who has some gift of knowledge (say), one actually verified by the event, could say that God “gave” him that. But because of the rampant confusion surrounding these issues, his description of what happened should be extremely cautious, if he describes it to others at all. Shall I illustrate? I was once in a counseling session with a woman who was being recruited by a really bad cult. She had been impervious to everything I had shown or told her about that group. I was stumped. But one morning I was reading in 2 Peter, and read the phrase “with eyes full of adultery . . . they seduce the unstable” and I knew that the husband of the couple that was recruiting her was sleeping with her as a recruiting technique. I had no evidence that would hold up in any kind of just courtroom, but I did have enough to ask her about it. When I did, she dissolved into tears. That was it, and she repented. I believe that I knew that because the world is a weird place, and I believe the world is a weird place because Jesus is the Lord of it. So in that sense, sure, He gave me that knowledge, the same indirect way He gave me bacon for breakfast this morning. I thank Him for both. But I would never say “Jesus told me, that’s how I knew” – I would say, after the fact, that I believe the Lord “had led me,” or had “put it in my heart.” I would actively seek to avoid any language that could be construed as a claim to an inside revelatory track. Why? Because I don’t have one. [bold added by me] -
taken from: Eleven Theses on Private Spirits by Douglas Wilson

In the debate Warnock rightly points out that responsible charismatics don't believe that such words of prophecy, knowledge, or wisdom have the authority of Scripture since Scripture says we know in part and prophesy in part (1 Cor. 13:8).

Here's another example of what appears to be a supernatural experience in Wilson's family.

Francis Schaeffer, a popular apologist in the last generation, claimed to have heard an audible voice from God at least twice. In at least one instance it was in response to prayer and the voice spoke words which solved his current domestic problem. Apparently he believed the voice came from God (either directly from God or indirectly through an angel). An account of this is recorded in Jack Deere's book Surprised by the Voice of God.

Early in his ministry, Francis Schaeffer faced a minor crisis. He and his young family needed temporary housing during a transition time, but had very little money. They needed a "minor miracle" from the Lord. While Francis was praying about this, he said to God, "Where can we live, Lord? Please show us." Immediately, in response to his question, he heard an audible voice. It wasn't a voice inside his mind. It didn't come from another human. He was alone. The voice simply said, "Uncle Harrison's house."

Although the answer was perfectly clear—it was an audible voice—it made no sense. Uncle Harrison had never given the Schaeffer family anything, and they thought it would be very unlikely he would offer his house for them to live in. Yet the voice that spoke to Francis was so startling and direct he felt he had to obey it. He wrote his uncle, asking him what he planned to with his house for the next year. He was astonished when his uncle replied that he planned to live with his brother for the next year and would like to offer his house free of rent to Francis and his family for a year. Francis Schaeffer claims that this was the second time God had spoken to him in an audible voice.- Jack Deere, Surprised by the Voice of God, chapter 9, p. 130
The account can be read HERE.

Mike Licona, a historian and Christian apologist, shared a testimony of a Yale educated (master of Divinity) friend of his who went to places like Afghanistan, Iran, India, the underground churches in China (and other places) to minister to their peoples. On one occasion in China he was speaking to former Muslims who converted to Christianity. They asked him for some advice about a spirit that had been visiting and harassing them. They claimed the spirit looked like a guy with long gray hair and wearing a white robe. He often materialized out of nowhere and threatened to kill them and their families. Licona said his friend didn't believe them at first and thought they were a little strange. But before he was supposed to speak to them, he asked to use the washroom and they told him where it was. In the hallway, on the way to the washroom, all of a sudden everything went dark and out of nowhere the spirit flies up to him and grabs him by the neck and starts choking him. He told Licona that he felt the spirit was going to kill him. That he felt like he was dying. But he was able to utter, "You want to kill me, but I have come now to destroy you in the name of Jesus." At that point the spirit let him go and flew away. He proceeded to go and use the washroom. Then when he returned, the people he was supposed to speak to told him, "You saw him [didn't you?]". He asked, "How did you know?" They said, "Because your face is really white with fear."

This testimony by Licona can be listened to at the following links:

DIRECT MP3 LINK HERE (at around 42 minutes into interview):

Around 10 minutes later Licona recounts a story of a female friend who had a paranormal experience of her friend one night and the next day she discovered she had died. In another telling of the story during a debate with Richard Carrier, Licona says that his friend hadn't thought about her friend in a long time.

In another mp3 file Mike Licona describes how when he was young his father (who was an ex-Mason) would often do interviews about why Masonry is incompatible with Christianity. Often when his father would do those interviews they would experience poltergeist-like activity in their house. He gave various examples including an object (towel?) that twirled in the air when no human being was holding it.

This testimony can be listened to at 33 minutes and 25 seconds into the mp3 audio file where Mike Licona interviews Gary Habermas on the topic: Is God Active in the World Today?

Licona gives the same testimony on another occasion in a video webinar here:

On a related note, here's a link to Dr. Habermas' lecture on Scientific Evidence for Supernatural Events:
Scientific Evidence for Supernatural Events:
A special lecture given to medical students and faculty in Sahlgrenska Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden
Part I (22MB) [MP3 file]

Craig Keener, a respected historian, has written a book on miracles which included a section on modern miracles. HERE'S A LINK to a collection of blogs at Triablogue which were written both before and after the book was released. In an interview with Mike Licona, both Licona and Keener shared their personal experiences of the supernatural and the miraculous, along with other testimonies by others. HERE'S THE LINK TO THE INTERVIEW.

There are also supernatural elements in Craig Keener's Conversion Testimony

J.P. Moreland, a Christian philosopher and apologist, has given many testimonies of the supernatural in various lectures and interviews. Some of the testimonies are of his own personal testimonies. These testimonies can be viewed HERE.

Wayne Grudem is a well known Christian theologian who is best known for his popular book Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. He is a continuationist who occasionally mentions some of his supernatural experiences. Here's a link to some of his Resources on the Web.

Sam Storms is a pastor and author in the Reformed tradition who is also a charismatic. In addition to his books, HIS WEBSITE has many articles in defense of the continuation of the charismatic gifts. HERE'S A LINK TO AN INTERVIEW conducted by Michael Brown where Storms relays testimonies of the supernatural. Sam Storms has also written a book titled, Convergence: Spiritual Journeys of a Charismatic Calvinist

Why I Am a Continuationist by Sam Storms

Matt Chandler, a pastor and author in the Reformed tradition, shared his introduction into supernatural ministry with Bob Hamp HERE. Bob Hamp's version of the story can be viewed HERE.

Charles H. Spurgeon (1834 - 1892), considered by many to be the greatest preacher of the 19th century, was officially a cessationist. Yet he testified to experiences which, if true, are best explained as examples of the supernatural. Here are some quotes.
Many times the preacher [i.e. Spurgeon] has been guided to say things that seemed almost uncanny in their applicability. He once said that there was a man in the gallery listening to him with a gin bottle in his pocket. It so happened that there was such a man, and he was startled into conversion. A woman of the city who had determined on suicide came in with the crowd to hear a last message that might prepare her to die. The text "Seest thou this woman?" arrested her. The discourse changed her heart, and she confessed Christ as her Saviour.

There was a man who regularly attended the tabernacle whose wife consistently refused to accompany him. But one evening, when her husband had gone to the service, her curiosity overcame her obstinacy. That she might not be recognised she put on some very plain things and, quite sure that she would be unknown, pushed her way in with the crowd. The text that evening was "Come in, thou wife of Jeroboam; why feignest thou thyself to be another?" The result was that her prejudices were overcome and she began to attend with her husband. He told Mr. Spurgeon about it, his only complaint being that the preacher should compare him to Jeroboam.

A man was won for Christ because the preacher pointed to him and said, "There is a man sitting there who is a shoemaker; he keeps his shop open on Sundays; it was open last Sabbath morning. He took ninepence and there was fourpence profit on it; his soul is sold to Satan for fourpence." The man was afraid to go and hear Spurgeon again for fear he might tell the people more about him, for what he said at first was all true. But at last he came, and the Lord met with him.

One Sunday evening Mr. Spurgeon, pointing to the gallery, said, "Young man, the gloves you have in your pocket are not paid for." After the service a young fellow came beseeching him not to say anything more about it, and the circumstances led to his conversion. [bold added by me]

This quotation is from chapter 13 of W. Y. Fullerton's biography of Spurgeon which can be freely accessed HERE

Another version of some of these testimonies by Spurgeon himself:

While preaching in the hall, on one occasion, I deliberately pointed to a man in the midst of the crowd, and said, "There is a man sitting there, who is a shoemaker; he keeps his shop open on Sundays, it was open last Sabbath morning, he took ninepence, and there was fourpence profit out of it; his soul is sold to Satan for fourpence!" A city missionary, when going his rounds, met with this man, and seeing that he was reading one of my sermons, he asked the question, "Do you know Mr. Spurgeon?" "Yes," replied the man, "I have every reason to know him, I have been to hear him; and, under his preaching, by God's grace I have become a new creature in Christ Jesus. Shall I tell you how it happened? I went to the Music Hall, and took my seat in the middle of the place; Mr. Spurgeon looked at me as if he knew me, and in his sermon he pointed to me, and told the congregation that I was a shoemaker, and that I kept my shop open on Sundays; and I did, sir. I should not have minded that; but he also said that I took ninepence the Sunday before, and that there was fourpence profit out of it. I did take ninepence that day, and fourpence was just the profit; but how he should know that, I could not tell. Then it struck me that it was God who had spoken to my soul through him, so I shut up my shop the next Sunday. At first, I was afraid to go again to hear him, lest he should tell the people more about me; but afterwards I went, and the Lord met with me, and saved my soul."

Spurgeon then added this comment:

I could tell as many as a dozen similar cases in which I pointed at somebody in the hall without having the slightest knowledge of the person, or any idea that what I said was right, except that I believed I was moved by the Spirit to say it; and so striking has been my description, that the persons have gone away, and said to their friends, "Come, see a man that told me all things that ever I did [Spurgeon is alluding to John 4:29 where Christ supernaturally knows the hidden secrets of "the woman at the well"]; beyond a doubt, he must have been sent of God to my soul, or else he could not have described me so exactly." And not only so, but I have known many instances in which the thoughts of men have been revealed from the pulpit. I have sometimes seen persons nudge their neighbours with their elbow, because they had got a smart hit, and they have been heard to say, when they were going out, "The preacher told us just what we said to one another when we went in at the door."
The Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon, vol. 2 (Curts & Jennings, 1899), 226-27 [as taken from the book The Beginner's Guide to Spiritual Gifts by Sam Storms]

Paul Washer is a (generally) respected Reformed preacher who doesn't always toe the line of Calvinistic "correctness." For that reasons he's a bit controversial in Reformed circles. In the following links he shares a supernatural experience which he doesn't normally talk about.  It's about how God revealed Himself to him after he sought God for many days.

Six Minute Audio CLIP from His sermons The Glory of God in Moral Purity

(click here for the SermonIndex webpage that hosts the full sermon)
(click here to listen to the FULL SERMON on YouTube)
(click here to listen or download the FULL SERMON at SermonAudio website)

John Calvin (1509 - 1564), one of the two main Reformers of the Reformation was a clear cessationist. Many cessationists model their theology after Calvin. Yet, there's a record of what appears to be a situation where he received a supernatural Word of Knowledge. The record can be read HERE.

Jonathan Edwards (1703 - 1758), is considered one of the greatest minds ever produced by North America. He was a revivalist preacher, philosopher, and Protestant theologian. He is best known for his sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. A sermon read even in many secular high schools and colleges. Edwards apparently had many supernatural experiences. Here's a link to a one account.

R.A. Torrey (1856 – 1928) the 2nd president of the cessationist Moody Bible Institute wrote a book on divine healing where he recounts testimonies of healings in his and other people's lives and ministries. Here's a link to his book Divine Healing - Does God Perform Miracles Today?

D.L. Moody (1837 - 1899), is considered one of the greatest evangelists of the 19th century. Moody founded the Moody Church in Chicago, the Moody Bible Institute and Moody Publishers. Here’s a link to and apparent supernatural experience D.L. Moody had.

Hugh Ross (astrophysicist, apologist, and pastor) in a debate (HERE), said that his Church is in between CalTech and JPL so there are a lot of scientific and engineer minded people who attend his church. In his church they practice praying for the sick by the elders. As they did, they approached it scientifically. They noticed that when they were in the habit of announcing healings from the pulpit (presumably on Sundays) there were significantly fewer healings then when they kept it completely secret when people were healed. Ross connected that with the multiple times Jesus would sometimes tell the people He healed not to tell anyone about it. In another interview, Ross claims a Christian couple asked him for advice regarding levitating utensils in their new home and a possible occultic connection (here).

Similar to Hugh Ross' experiences of healing, Roger Sapp (charismatic teacher with Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy degrees) noticed a similar phenomenon in his own healing ministry. Ross and Sapp interpret that phenomenon slightly differently. But I suspect that beyond the problem of unbelief in the Western church, another major reason (among many other reasons) why God doesn't perform very dramatic and undeniable miracles is because it would interfere with God's providential plan for the world. But since we don't know what that plan is, or if, or when there will be a dramatic change in the way God providentially operates, we are therefore free to pray with hope.

For example, hypothetically let's say Post-millennnialism is true and that God plans to convert the majority of the world by the year 2214 right before the return of Christ. That's 200 years from now. God may use documented healings of amputees and other signs and wonders 50 years before the return of Christ. In which case, we're living 150 years too early. And so, God may not perform such documented miracles until then. But we don't know that. For all we know, God plans to start performing such miracles next year. Or the very next time a Christian prays for someone's healing.

Speaking of Roger Sapp, here's a link to my blog where I list some of his BOOKS and AUDIO/VIDEO. There are a few charismatic "healers" (for lack of a better word) that I personally believe consistently and genuinely operate in the supernatural by God's power. He's at the top of that list.

George Mueller (1805 - 1898), is well known for having experienced many direct answers to prayer. The answers to prayer include prayers for provision and physical healing. Early in Mueller's ministry he decided to prove the existence and faithfulness of God by writing down his prayers and recording the dates in which they were prayed and the dates in which they were answered. Here are some links to Mueller resources:

Answers to Prayer by George Muller (edited by A.E.C. Brooks)
The Life of Trust by George Muller
A Narrative of some of the Lord's Dealings with George Müller  by George Müller (or here)
George Muller of Bristol by Arthur T. Pierson (or HERE)
George Muller: Man of Faith biography by Basil Miller
George Mueller's Strategy for Showing God by John Piper
George Mueller Quotes

Wikipedia article on Mueller

I collected these links in another blog HERE.

John Flavel (1627 - 1691), is a well known and well respected Puritan theologian. He wrote was appears to be an autobiographical account of a supernatural experience HERE.

Gerry Breshears is a respected theologian and seminary professor. Here are links to lectures where he discusses his own supernatural experiences.

Is James 5:15 a lie? People aren’t healed every time we pray for them…

Spiritual Warfare
Contains 11 lectures. In the last lecture Breshears shares stories of his encounters with the demonic and gives insight into the application of biblical principles for interacting with the kingdom of darkness.

Ordinary Spiritual Warfare

History of charismatic gifts Part ONE, Part TWO

Receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 8)

Craig Blomberg is a respected Biblical scholar. In the following link he relates some apparently supernatural experiences in his life and the life of people he knew/knows.

Blomberg on modern miracles

Charles G. Finney (1792 - 1875), is probably the most well known preacher/evangelist of the Second Great Awakening in America. He's considered The Father of Modern Revivalism. Finney’s theology wasn’t always fully orthodox, but I’m personally convinced he was a genuine Christian whom God used to bring revival in America in his generation.

Here’s a link to Finney’s autobiographical testimony of an apparent encounter with God.

Testimonies of the Supernatural in the Past History of the Christian  Church
The Ministry of Healing: Miracles of Cure In All Ages by A.J. Gordon

The Suppressed Evidence: Or, Proofs of the Miraculous Faith and Experience of the Church of Christ In All Ages by Thomas Boys

The supernatural among the Puritans and other Reformed/Reformational ministers

The charismatic covenanters

Extraordinary Gifts and Church Officers 

Links on the Subject of Miracles in the Context of Craig Keener's Recent Book

No comments:

Post a Comment