November 22, 2013

Smeaton on the Miraculous Gifts

by Mike Riccardi

Smeaton - Holy SpiritOne of the effects that all the discussion surrounding Strange Fire has had on me, personally, has been to renew my interest in the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. And not just the discussion as it relates to the gifts of the Spirit, but in all the ways the Third Person of the Trinity exists and works to be worthy of all worship.

To that end, I’ve been reading some stuff on pneumatology. And one of the books that has invariably come up in discussions of good theology books on the Holy Spirit is George Smeaton’s The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, first published in 1882. Having been published two decades before Charles Fox Parham and Agnes Ozman would introduce the modern versions of the miraculous gifts to the church, Smeaton’s discussion of the gifts is particularly interesting to me. So, I’ve been reading selections of his work, and wanted to share with you some of the things he includes in his lecture entitled, “The Work of the Spirit in the Inspiration of Prophets and Apostles.” I’m quoting from the 1958 Banner of Truth edition.

The Sufficiency of Scripture

“These extraordinary gifts of the Spirit were no longer needed when the canon of Scripture was closed. Up to that time they were an absolute necessity. They are now no longer so. Nor is the Church warranted to expect their restoration, or to desire prophetic visions, immediate revelations, or miraculous gifts, either in public or in private, beyond, or besides, the all-perfect canon of Scripture. The Church of Rome, which still claims these extraordinary gifts, is to that extent injurious to the Spirit as the author of Scripture. And enthusiastic sects [he gives as examples ‘the Montanists of the second century and the Irvingites of the nineteenth century’] that cherish the belief of their restoration, or an expectation to that effect, have not learned or duly pondered how great a work of the Spirit has been completed and provided for the Church of all times in the gift of the Holy Scriptures.” (150–51)

Here Smeaton hammers a point that I don’t think we can reiterate enough: the absolute sufficiency of Scripture. The kind of communion with God that many Christians seek through ecstatic experiences and subjective “revelations,” we have in infinitely greater measure in the Scriptures themselves. That the Apostle Peter saw the unveiled glory of the Transfigured Son of God, and yet could admonish the churches in his care to pay close attention to the more sure prophetic word (2 Pet 1:16–21), continues to astound me. The written Word of God, more sure than the personal experience and vision of the glory of God the Son? That’s what he says. “How great a work of the Spirit has been completed and provided for the Church of all times in the gift of the Holy Scriptures!”

And, as far as Smeaton could see, expecting any renewal or restoration of the miraculous, revelatory gifts of the Spirit such as prophecy, tongues, and miraculous signs and wonders, necessarily subtracts from the absolute sufficiency of the written Word of God. To suggest that any other revelation was necessary —inscripturated or not—was to impugn the character of “the all-perfect canon of Scripture,” and to be “injurious to the Spirit as the author of Scripture.”

The Purpose of the Revelatory Gifts

“That rich supply of supernatural or miraculous gifts with which the apostolic Churches were adorned, was a standing pledge and sign that the inward miracle of inspiration continued. The cessation of these gifts, after they had served their purpose was a significant fact. But during the whole time of their continuance, these miraculous gifts, and especially the gift of tongues—that is, the gift of speaking in languages which had never been learned—were a conclusive proof and illustration that the miracle of inspiration was still present in the church. […]

“When it is alleged that the restoration of these gifts is not an unwarrantable expectation, the answer is, they are no longer required. The closing of the canon has superseded their necessity and value, inasmuch as the Church possesses in the Scriptures all that they were intended to accredit and commend.” (150, 151)

Note that Smeaton sees the purpose of the gifts as attesting to the reality that the miracle of inspiration was occurring. The gifts were given to certify that the revelation being brought by Christ and His Apostles and their associates was indeed infallible truth from the God of all truth Himself. Now that such revelation has been codified in the Scriptures, there is no further revelation that needs attestation by miraculous gifts. Scripture itself is its own self-attestation. The Word of God is self-authenticatingly glorious.

The Spirit and the Word, by the Word

“Whatever enthusiasts may have held, no judicious divine ever asserted that the Spirit gives this internal criterion, or testifies without the word or apart from the word itself. On the contrary, they always, in express terms, declared that we owe this testimony to the efficacy of the Spirit and word conjointly not separately. They ascribed the effect to the Spirit not without the word, but by the word.” (173, emphases added)

One of the greatest travesties of the heterodox pneumatology of Charismaticism, which has trickled down even into the streams of conservative evangelicalism, is the notion that Christians can either be Spirit-people or Word-people. Smeaton actually goes on to say, “The enthusiasts . . . have been wont to call the written word a dead letter” (173), and many non-cessationists today suggest that if we want to have a living relationship with the living God, we must look to the living Holy Spirit to communicate with us by direct, personal revelations—not merely to some static, ancient book such as the Bible. Such would be to “put God in a box,” to “confine Him to a single book.” But Smeaton, following the “judicious divines” through the ages, following the Scripture itself, teaches us that we do not choose between the Spirit and the written Word; rather, we honor the Spirit by going to and revering and honoring the written Word, of which He is the author. We do not find communion with God through His Spirit apart from the Word, but by the Word.

The Nature of Tongues, and 19th-Century German Liberals

“Many . . . interpret the expression [i. e., tongues] . . . as a speaking in ecstasy. That is the modern German speculation, devised to escape the full admission of the extraordinary miracle.” (57)

How interesting that the 19th-century German liberals, in their zeal to make Christianity acceptable to the Enlightenment rationalism of the day by explaining away the miraculous, believed to aid their case by redefining tongues as gibberish. Apparently they realized that (a) if the gift of tongues was the ability to speak in previously unknown human languages (as the Scripture teaches), they’d be forced to admit the supernatural, but that (b) anyone could fabricate “ecstatic utterance,” which could be explained as a natural phenomenon. It’s a little funny, but mostly sad, to think that the contemporary continuationists have an ally in the German liberals on this issue—and that cessationists get accused of having their pneumatology birthed in the Enlightenment!

Liberalism and Experientialism

Smeaton eventually traces the experientialism inherent in non-cessationism to the parallel experientialism in the liberalism of Friedrich Schleiermacher, often referred to as “the father of modern liberal theology.”

“Schleiermacher, to whom the school owes its origin, broke away from a faith of authority, and assumed the Christian consciousness or pious feeling as the source of knowledge and the matter of his science. . . . And, with a boldness amounting to bravado, the leaders of that school propound the most negative opinions. To affirm that the Christian consciousness is the source of spiritual knowledge is, in fact, a Quaker principle—defective and one-sided. It puts in the place of authority the Spirit within instead of the word without, the only full expression of the Spirit’s mind. It furnishes nothing but guesses at truth.” (174)

This “Quaker principle” is that “inner light” that the Quakers, who claimed to be receiving new prophecies and revelations, held to exist in all men—an indwelling of the Spirit that gives revelation even to unbelievers. Steve Lawson did an excellent job in introducing us to this in his second session at Strange Fire.

This “Quaker principle” elevates the subjective, internal “testimony” of “the Spirit” to the place of paramount authority, and thus denigrates the objective, external revelation of the written Word, which is the only full expression of the Spirit’s mind.

And he’s right to point out that the result of this is nothing but “guesses at truth.” This is precisely what John MacArthur said in his most recent Sunday morning sermon. Even the most conservative continuationists acknowledge that the supposed “revelations” that they receive from the Holy Spirit are fallible and are often incorrect. Grudem writes, “There is almost uniform testimony from all sections of the charismatic movement that prophecy is imperfect and impure, and will contain elements which are not to be obeyed or trusted” (The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament, 90). When explaining how one can tell whether such a prophecy is truly from the Lord or not, Grudem advises asking oneself, “Did the revelation ‘seem like’ something from the Holy Spirit? . . . Beyond this it is difficult to specify much further, except to say that over time a congregation would probably become more adept . . . at recognizing a genuine revelation from the Holy Spirit and distinguishing it from their own thoughts” (ibid., 100).

I don’t know that Smeaton could have characterized it better than “guesses at truth.” What an unspeakable blessing that we are not subjected to the uncertainty and ambiguity of such guesses at truth, but have the more sure prophetic word, which is unquestionably and infallibly 100% accurate revelation from God Himself. You will do well to pay attention to it, dear friends, as to a lamp shining in a dismal place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. (2 Pet 1:19).

May God grant that it be so.

Mike Riccardi

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Mike is the Pastor of Local Outreach Ministries at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles. He also teaches Evangelism at The Master's Seminary.
  • “The kind of communion with God that many Christians seek through ecstatic experiences and subjective “revelations,” we have in infinitely greater measure in the Scriptures themselves.”

    “We do not find communion with God through His Spirit apart from the Word, but by the Word.”

    I think these are key points that you brought out here. I can attest that there are few things more glorious than chewing on a piece of scripture and receiving that jolt of understanding straight from the written word.

  • Brian Morgan

    Very helpful. I too have been reconsidering this subject and have struggled with the notion of “limiting” the Spirit’s ability to perform these works should He choose. This post has assisted in the confirmation that the limiting or cessation is by choice to exalt the sufficiency of the objective written word.

    Would you care to comment on the cases reported in third world arenas where men were enabled to speak in mother tongues without training, supernaturally? Could God be “choosing” to demonstrate His power due to the lack of scriptural infiltration in those areas?
    Again, I so appreciate your writing brother.

    • Interesting question!

      We’ve all heard the stories; I’ve never heard a first-hand account but have definitely heard direct second-hand accounts from very reputable folks on two occasions. Discernment is tough because surely these instances would qualify as being empowered for service in order to be an effective witness and distinct from the clanging cymbal of glossolalia.

      • Jerry Wragg

        While it could be divine intervention, it could also be sinister. The question isn’t whether God could do it (of course He could), but whether we’re able to objectively know for certain that it is from God (a non-negotiable requirement for the sign gifts). That’s the problem I have with these stories. They are most often recounted, not simply as anomalous works of God, but as “proof” that the NT gifts are still in operation, and that we should seek them.
        Satan could—and I believe often does—use humanly inexplicable events and their retelling as a way to distract true believers from the objective, written revelation of God. When we witness something phenomenal or hear such stories, we immediately begin to focus on investigating, verifying, and explaining them. We want to see “signs.” We desire something tangible to our senses which doesn’t demand raw “conviction of things not seen” (true faith).
        Every cessationist friend I know who’s experienced some strange set of circumstances they simply are not able to attribute to natural causes, is immediately diverted for a time from the disciplines of reading, studying, and trusting in God’s word. Some, sadly, never return to their once-robust faith in the written revelation of Christ or it’s sufficiency. Personal experiences, and our reflective musings about them, have always distracted God’s people away from objective truth in Scripture. And Satan loves it so, even if He has to use one of God’s atypical miraculous interventions somewhere on the planet to entice our love for “signs.”

        • pearlbaker

          “While it could be divine intervention, it could also be sinister.”

          Thank you for this reminder, Jerry.

          Not to wax too simplistic, but when we take our eyes off of what is true in order to excite ourselves with what is thrilling, apart from the Word, we open ourselves up to the influence of the enemy. The Word is thrilling enough on Its own…as Mike said “The kind of communion with God that many Christians seek through ecstatic experiences and subjective “revelations,” we have in infinitely greater measure in the Scriptures themselves.” We know we can trust the Word of the Infinite and Almighty God, which is certainly not dead, but is robustly alive. What we cannot trust is ourselves and our subjective experiences apart from the Word. I would go so far as to say that anything I think, see or feel in relationship to the working of the Holy Spirit is suspect until confirmed by the Word Itself. There is no other measure.

  • Dave Johnson

    Mike, thanks for this brief review. I’ve had this book on my shelf for a
    couple of years and have been wanting to read it, especially in light
    of the Strange Fire conference. Now you’ve perked my interest back in
    this direction … as I need to stay sharp on this most important issue
    … but more importantly … so that I can be more in tune with God’s
    will (objectively) … as I feed upon God’s revelation and observe its
    precepts (subjectively). The former should always govern the latter.

  • Jerry Wragg

    Outstanding, Mike!

  • Jerry Wragg

    Also, three implications I’ve been pondering lately:
    (1) Since the NT miraculous gifts were God’s supreme choice for authenticating, objectively, verifiably, beyond-a-shadow-of-doubt, the Apostle’s and the inspired writings, and since Grudem,, already concede that today’s experiences are not the NT version, then continuationist’s are teaching that God’s chosen means for revealing Himself outside of the Bible today are a subjective, unverifiable, not-beyond-a-shadow-of-doubt kind. And if God’s intended goal today for giving unverifiable, subjective gifts is to “encourage and edify” His people, then God has put His people in a very confusing dilemma (I speak as if insane!): we’re commanded to submit to the Spirit in everything (Gal 5:16; Eph 5:18). Therefore, according to continuationism, God is calling us to accept both the Spirit’s objective, unquestionably verifiable, authoritative, and sufficient inspired revelation for our edification AS WELL AS the Spirit’s subjective, unverifiable, non-authoritative, and insufficient “seems-to-be” revelation for our edification. So here’s the upshot: why would God give miraculous but wholly unverifiable manifestations of His Spirit to “edify” when He’s already given me His indwelling Spirit (verified by power over sin) and His written revelation which He declared to be utterly sufficient for edification (2 Tim 3:16-17)? Was God not aware of the dilemma this would create for me? Did He not know that someone so spiritually needy and insecure as I would instinctively shun all unverifiable “encouragements” and hold fast to the Scriptures? How could God expect a different outcome? Am I to blame if I singularly choose, every time, His Spirit’s “living and active” word in Scripture as an anchor for my soul rather than give even the slightest consideration to today’s subjective offerings of the Spirit?
    (2) And what other area of God’s ministry to His people presents such a dilemma? I can think of no other part of the Christian life (outside today’s claim of miraculous gifts) where God offers a subjective, unverifiable version alongside His objective, authoritative, sufficient word for conforming His people to the image of Christ. If today’s “seems-to-be-from-God” kind of edification is what the Spirit offers along with Scripture, why not in other matters of sanctification. For instance, why not offer preaching that is not directly from texts of Scripture? Can’t the Spirit give subjective proclamation alongside expositions of Scripture and let us determine if the preacher “seems” to have a word from God? Woops, I forgot, that kind of thing does happen. But then, why are conservative continuationist’s so quick to deny preaching that doesn’t stay adhered to the Spirit’s objective revelation? I mean, if edification can come by both subjective and objective means, why not other areas of ministry beyond the sign gifts?
    (3) One final thought: If Piper prays for the gifts because, as he says, “we’re commanded to earnestly seek” them, but he acknowledges that today’s version is not the NT kind, why does he use a prayer out of context? The command to pray for the gifts was given at the time when the Apostolic gifts were operating. It was a command to pray for the miraculous sign gifts of the NT variety. If a person admits that today’s phenomena are all together different, then he can’t use that command to pray for today’s version of the gifts. Just sayin…

  • Chris Okogwu


  • Brad

    2 Peter 1:16-21 is not saying that the written word of God is more sure than Peter’s experience of the Transfiguration: “Some suggest that the written prophecies of the Old Testament are more certain than an event like the transfiguration because the transfiguration was subjectively experienced. It is difficult to believe that Peter would say this. According to this interpretation, Peter would be pitting the transfiguration against the Scriptures, arguing that the latter are more certain than the former. But this would subvert the argument in vv. 16–18, for Peter then would be suggesting that his appeal to the transfiguration is not quite convincing, so he needed something better, namely, the Old Testament Scriptures. But vv. 16–18 demonstrate that Peter believed that the transfiguration was decisive proof for his view, not questionable in the least. He was not suggesting its deficiency in contrast to the Old Testament Scriptures but was simply giving another argument for the validity of his view.”

    In context, the argument is that Peter’s experience gives us reason to believe in the OT prophecies even more. We can be more certain of the OT prophecies because of the Transfiguration. At the end of the day, Peter is still saying that the OT prophecies are certain and sure; I just don’t think Peter is saying that they are more certain and sure than his experience of the Transfiguration.

    • I disagree with that interpretation, Brad. I’m not sure who you quoted, and I’d be interested to know. But the argument in that quote boils down to this: “It is difficult to believe that Peter would say this.” And that’s rather the point. Scripture actually is that much more glorious and sufficient than even the greatest of our experiences.

      The interpretation you provide in your second paragraph is consistent with the way the NASB and NIV translates the verse: i.e., that the Transfiguration makes the prophetic word more sure. But those versions don’t quite capture the true force of the Greek. You’ll notice, if you’re looking at the NASB, that the word “made” is in italics, indicating it’s not in the original. The ESV actually gets the translation right: “And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, . . .” (καὶ ἔχομεν βεβαιότερον τὸν προφητικὸν λόγον). It’s the prophetic word that is itself more sure; it is not the prophetic word that is made more sure.

      So, the counterintuitive-ness of the conclusion that Peter is saying his experience of the Transfiguration is surpassed by the written word of God is counterintuitive precisely because of the unbiblical doctrine/philosophy of experientialism that is at the heart of a worldview that rejects the biblical doctrine of cessationism. This is how greatly has magnified His Word (cf. Ps 138:2). Those who look for further revelations apart from and beyond the Word, as Smeaton says, “have not learned or duly pondered how great a work of the Spirit has been completed and provided for the Church of all times in the gift of the Holy Scriptures.”

      • Brad

        The quote was from Thomas Schreiner. The commentaries I checked (Moo, Davids, Green, Schreiner) say the force of the Greek and the context actually go against your interpretation.

      • Richard Peskett

        Hi Mike,

        With your interpretation of 2 Peter 1:19, is it possible that you are forgetting that Peter’s hearing the voice was not a”run of the mill” experience, but one that Christ chose to reveal to three of His apostles. The transfiguration made what the Scriptures said about Christ’s coming all the more clear and therefore all the more sure, in the minds of the believers, but not inherently, by giving a preview of what is to come.

        If we understand that God’s OT written word is more sure that Peter’s apostolic experience, which was recorded in the gospels and in second Peter, what are we saying about the biblical accounts of the transfiguration? Samuel Green, in his Greek Grammar, describes βεβαιότερον as “a comparative without any expressed object of comparison.”

        • …is it possible that you are forgetting that Peter’s hearing the voice was not a “run of the mill” experience, but one that Christ chose to reveal to three of His apostles.

          I don’t think so. I never thought of it as a “run of the mill” experience. Rather, the argument is from the greater (greatest?) to the lesser, acknowledging the experience of the Transfiguration to be a glorious experience. The point is (if Peter’s saying what I think he’s saying): the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Scriptures are more reliable than even the greatest subjective experiences. How much more reliable, then, is the Word of God than the “impressions” we believe might be a subjective prompting of the Holy Spirit.

          …in the minds of the believers, but not inherently…

          That’s a key qualification to make. Even so, I wonder if that reflects a biblical epistemology. Is it experience that interprets/validates the Word, or the Word that interprets/validates experience? I believe it’s the latter.

          If we understand that God’s OT written word is more sure that Peter’s apostolic experience, which was recorded in the gospels and in second Peter, what are we saying about the biblical accounts of the transfiguration?

          This is a good question. But the answer is: nothing. When I speak of Peter’s “experience,” I’m not speaking of the inspired record of that experience, which would of course be included among that “more sure prophetic word” that he speaks about (i.e., given the reference to Paul’s work as Scripture [2 Pet 3:16] and, elsewhere, Paul’s reference to Luke’s gospel as Scripture [1 Tim 5:18]). Eye-witness testimony is reliable, but the Apostolic record of Peter’s experience is Spirit-inspired (cf. John 14:26), which is more sure than, say, a non-canonical report of Peter’s experience.

          Instead, I find Peter to be saying, “Listen, I’m telling you that we’re following the real deal, here. I heard God Himself speak from Heaven and watched Jesus unveil His glory. But I’m going to die soon (2 Pet 1:14), and people aren’t going to be able to come and ask me about what I saw. But no matter. Even in my absence, and the other Apostles’ absence, you have something more sure even than our personal word-of-mouth testimony: you have the more-sure testimony of the Spirit of God Himself, codified in the Scriptures. So pay attention to them!”

          Whatcha think?

          • Richard Peskett

            Thank you Mike. “Is it experience that interprets/validates the Word, or the Word that interprets/validates experience?” I am not suggesting that Peter’s experience validates or interprets the Word. Nor am I pitting experience against the written Word of God. I do not think Peter is either.

            I am suggesting that the transfiguration “made all the more clear” what had been promised by the prophets in the OT regarding Christ’s coming at the Day of the Lord—by giving a “snapshot” of what was promised. We must not forget the point of this passage, in the context of the whole letter, which was to contend with the scoffers who denied Christ was still coming.

            Whatcha think?

          • Richard Peskett

            And I agree that it is good to study the Scriptures together and seek the authorial intent—if the Lord had not been gracious in giving us His Word, we would not be having this discussion…

          • I think that’s a legitimate handling of the passage in its context, but I don’t think we’re choosing between one interpretation that fits the context and one that doesn’t. I also think the synopsis I gave above is a legitimate handling of the passage in its context (and not just a wooden-literal translation foisted on the context as Brad suggests below).

            While acknowledging that it seems to be a minority, I still find the “more sure word” translation/meaning more compelling than the “made more sure” translation/meaning, on both lexical and contextual grounds.

          • Hi Richard: I know you asked Mike a question and not me. But maybe I could add my two cents?

            I don’t think the text means that the prophetic word was “made” more sure, as the NAS translate it, because the “made more sure” translation seems to say more than what is there. NAS adds the verbs “made” as an interpretive decision, and makes “more sure” a kind of predicate adjective or, perhaps, an adverb.

            “More sure” is an adjective (in Greek, βεβαιοτερον). It modifies τον προφητικον λογον. Hence, the text could easily be translated, “the more sure/firm word” — not “the prophetic word made more sure.”

            So Peter probably is not arguing that his experience makes the prophetic word more certain.

      • Brad

        Just checked the ESV. They actually translate 2 Peter 1:19 this way: “And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed.” So I guess the ESV committee changed their mind on this passage.

        It seems to me that the majority interpretation (“prophetic word more fully confirmed) is based on the context of Peter’s argument, rather than a woodenly interpreted translation of the Greek.

        Here is my conclusion: It doesn’t seem like either translation is unreasonable, though the majority interpretation seems more faithful to Peter’s thought in 2 Peter 1.

        Thanks for this discussion! It is really great to study the Scriptures together and sharpen each other! Blessings!

  • John Caldwell

    I’ve just released this on Amazon, thought I’d post it here in case anyone is interested: Keep up the good work folks!

  • Scott C

    MIke and/ or Jerry,
    I recently read “The Scottish Presbyterians And Covenanters: A Continuationist Experience In A Cessationist Theology” by Dean R. Smith in Westminster Theological Journal 63:1 (Spring 2001). It chronicles the supposed prophecies and healings done by the Scottish Covenanters including men like the reformer John Knox. Smith draws from Know’s own writings as well as John Howie’s “The Scots Worthies” published by Banner of Truth. Have either of your read that article and if so what are your thoughts?

    • I haven’t come across that, Scott. But thanks for pointing it out. I’ll definitely give it a look.

  • Harry

    With respect, you chose a book “some stuff” that supports your position; you isolate a quote from Wayne Grudem who was grappling with the problem of judging prophecy; you invoke Quakers spooky ideology, and dare I say you have not achieved what you said you wanted to do at the commencement of your article look more deeply at the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. All you did was reinforce your tribal position. Am I being unfair?

    • Am I being unfair?

      Yes, actually, I think you are. But perhaps maybe you’ve just woefully misunderstood my intent for this blog post.

      …you chose a book “some stuff” that supports your position;

      When I said that I was reading “some stuff” on pneumatology, I didn’t mean to imply that Smeaton was the only thing I was reading. Neither did I choose his book among the handful of others I’ve been looking into, simply because he supports my position. As I said, in discussions I’ve had on “must-read” theology texts on pneumatology, Smeaton’s work always comes up, so I wanted to check it out.

      …and dare I say you have not achieved what you said you wanted to do at the commencement of your article look more deeply at the doctrine of the Holy Spirit

      That is a daring statement. Apparently, though, you thought that I meant that my desire to look more deeply at the Person and work of the Holy Spirit meant that I was going to report everything that I’ve been finding in this one blog post. That’s not what I meant. The renewed interest in pneumatology sparked my new reading, and I decided to report on a particular selection among that reading. So, rather than give a 10,000 word report on all of the “some stuff” I’ve been reading all in one blog post, I chose to just react to some of the things Smeaton said in a particular chapter. And even with that limited scope I went over the word count I was aiming for.

      …you invoke Quakers spooky ideology,

      I don’t know if it’s right to credit me with that invocation. Smeaton was the one who said it, and I was simply commenting on what he said. Plus, when you add, as I did in the post, that Steve Lawson devoted some significant time in his talk at Strange Fire to examining the historical significance of the Quakers’ errant pneumatology as it related to the discussion of cessationism in Owen’s day, makes that fair game.

      you isolate a quote from Wayne Grudem who was grappling with the problem of judging prophecy;

      Are you implying that I’ve taken it out of context or in some way have represented his meaning? If not, “isolating” those two quotes is merely trying to be concise; I’m not obligated to do a full book review if I disagree, am I? But if you do think I’ve taken him out of context or misrepresented his position in anyway, I’d invite you to demonstrate that along with such an accusation. I don’t think that I’ve done either of those things. The portions of his book that I quoted accurately depict the kind of subjectivity, uncertainty, and ambiguity that must necessarily characterized so-called “fallible prophecy.” Grudem, in his own words, makes Smeaton’s point perfectly. So I think they were apposite citations.

      All you did was reinforce your tribal position.

      That I didn’t comment on other aspects of the Spirit’s work that I’ve been reading about — in this one blog post — was simply a matter of scope, as I said above. And yes, given the recent discussion throughout Evangelicalism regarding the nature and perpetuity of the gifts of the Spirit, I thought that speaking on the issue would be a relevant topic. I can’t think of any reason why that wouldn’t be fair game.

      And it’s not “my tribal position.” In the first place, this discussion isn’t about “tribes;” it’s about sound theology and doctrinal convictions that concern the proper interpretation of Scripture and affect the life and practice of the local church.

      But if it were about tribes, my “tribal position” would be the historic position of the Church. And if all I did in this post was to support, or reinforce, the historic-Christian theological conviction that the canon is closed, that Scripture is absolutely sufficient, that the Spirit works through the Word and not apart from the Word, and that the miraculous revelatory gifts have ceased with the close of the Apostolic age, then I count this post a wonderful success.