From: Don Winterstein (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sat Feb 22 2003 - 00:56:45 EST
Before Terry wins 100 debating points for justifiably attacking my last sentence here, let me acknowledge that "finite" was definitely the wrong word to use. I Cor. 13:8, in fact, specifically says ".where there are prophecies, they will cease.." But they won't necessarily cease until "perfection comes" (I Cor. 13:10), and that ain't yet.
Terry Gray wrote:
> The most convincing argument for me for the cessation of new word
revelation is .
> redemptive-historical one that recognizes the uniqueness of the
> Christ event and the uniqueness of the apostolic witness to the
> Christ event and the foundational character of the early church
> apostles and prophets. The closest thing to a prooftext is in
> Ephesians 2 where Paul refers to the church being built on the
> foundations of the apostles and prophets. Thus, Acts and the early
> epistles are not normative in this regard--they are foundational and
> not to be repeated events much in the same way that Christ's death on
> the cross and resurrection is a foundational and not to be repeated
> event. There is indication that even by the time of the Timothy
> epistles, Jude, and 2 Peter of an appeal to the authority of the
> apostolic tradition (scripture) rather than to immediate revelations
> of the Spirit.
(Sorry about making separate responses to the same email.)
I accept all of the above but still do not find anything like a compelling case there for ruling out new revelation. It's completely understandable that God would shower the early Church with an unusual outpouring of diverse spiritual gifts in order to get it off to a good start in a very hostile world.
But this fact in no way implies that God would then cut his Church off completely from any further outpouring of such gifts until the Second Coming. It's taken Jesus quite a while to return, and meantime lots of major world events and major changes in perspectives and philosophies have taken place. The Christian Church has suffered a lot in terms of being battered by new ideas that challenge faith and in terms of major divisions. Even on this list, where most seem to hold to strict inerrancy of Scripture, there seems to be no consensus whatever on how to interpret certain parts of the Bible. To me these things strongly suggest that, unless Jesus' return is just around the corner, God might feel he needs to give the Church a boost, and perhaps in our time. To categorically deny that God would do such a thing would be presumptuous. To require that any further revelation be restricted to a particular type would be equally presumptuous. I think the only safe thing one can say about any further revelation is that it must not undermine what has gone before. But even here people must be careful: Religious authorities of Jesus' day believed Jesus was undermining God's revelation given through Moses. In other words, it's really easy for even the best-informed people to jump to the wrong conclusions.
As you're well aware, the apostle Paul more than once makes lists of spiritual gifts, and his lists include prophecy. Nowhere does he say or imply that his lists have a finite shelf life.
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