Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

23 Oct 2018

Two Helpful Resources in the NT Prophecy Flap

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Wayne Grudem’s continuationist theory of NT prophecy (i.e., that prophecy continues in the modern church, but that it differs from OT prophecy in terms of its accuracy and authority) has been with us now for three decades. After Grudem wrote his Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today in 1988 (rev. 2000), several substantial answers were made—books by Sam Waldron and Ken Gentry, a dissertation and a whole passel of articles by David Farnell, and also this helpful article by one of my colleagues here at DBTS, Bruce Compton.

Last year Sam Storms infused some fresh energy into Grudem’s approach when he published his Practicing the Power. Thankfully, answers to this new work are starting to multiply. I’ve had the privilege of reading two particularly helpful such answers in the past few weeks, and thought I’d comment briefly on them.

The first is Tom Schreiner’s book Spiritual Gifts: What They Are & Why They Matter. Written in an irenic tone (so says the dedication page) “to Wayne Grudem, John Piper, and Sam Storms—beloved friends and coworkers in the gospel of Christ,” the book defines and explains spiritual gifts over the course of five chapters, then dedicates two chapters each to discussions of NT prophecy and tongues. The book concludes with a chapter on “unconvincing” arguments for cessationism and a final chapter that offers more convincing grounds for cessationism. It is a helpful book and I recommend it.

The second is not a whole book but an extraordinarily helpful chapter of a book by Tom Nettles, The Privilege, Promise, Power & Peril of Doctrinal Preaching. If I may say it, this is an even better treatment. The book itself is not about prophecy but rather preaching, and deals extensively with threats, both historical and modern, to the practice of doctrinal preaching. The twelfth chapter details Nettles’s concern with modern-day prophets and their polluting influence on doctrinal preaching. His primary case study is Sam Storms. As one might surmise from the chapter title, “Polluting the Prophetic Word,” Nettles’s treatment is a bit less irenic than Schreiner’s. Nettles is not unprofessional, of course, but he reflects a urgency appropriate to his assessment of Storms’s approach not as an innocuous one, but one that is truly insidious for the life and health of the Christian Church. It is an extremely helpful book and I highly recommend it.

Tolle Lege.

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