This is old news but the lads at TeamPyro have taken Driscoll to task here. If you’re interested in why they’re upset watch the video. I’m a little wary getting involved with this as I don’t want to face the wrath of the Pyromaniacs in the comments section but I just can’t resist. Phil Johnson says that Driscoll makes preposterous claims? Hardly. I hope to show that TeamPyro’s arguments are seriously wanting. Hopefully some might find this helpful until someone like Dr. Sam Storms weighs in.
Let the fisking begin! My comments will be in red.
This is bad teaching. The biblical “Gift of discernment” has nothing to do with soothsaying and everything to do with maturity, clear understanding, the ability to make wise and careful distinctions, and (especially) skill in differentiating between holy and profane, clean and unclean, truth and falsehood (Ezekiel 44:23; Hebrews 5:14).
This is just proof texting. Fine. I can proof text too. If you don’t want to call it discernment let’s call it prophesying. Wayne Grudem defines prophesying as “sharing something that God spontaneously brings to mind.” This fits perfectly with what Driscoll has done. Now before we have a hissy fit about this destroying the normativity of Scripture we need to remember that the New Testament counterparts to Old Testament prophets are New Testament apostles, not New Testament prophets. Old Testament prophets spoke with absolute divine authority. To disobey a prophet’s words was to disobey God. In the New Testament Jesus refers to those who had this same function as apostles, not prophets. It must also be noted that when the apostles wanted to establish their unique authority, they never appealed to being prophets but always to being apostles (cf. Gal. 1:1; Eph. 1:1).
Grudem also notes that Paul probably used the word ‘apostle’ instead of ‘prophet’ to designate those who wrote with absolute authority because the word ‘prophet’ had a broad range of meaning at the time of the New Testament. Grudem says “it generally did not have the sense ‘one who speaks God’s very words’ but rather ‘one who speaks on the basis of some external influence.'” The Bible uses the word ‘prophet’ this way in Titus 1:12. We also see non-biblical writers referring to ‘prophet’ in this way, notably by Plutarch.
The counsel Driscoll gives is bad counsel. If by his own admission Driscoll’s divinations are not “a hundred percent always right,” he has no business accusing people of serious sins—including felony crimes—based on what he “sees” in his own imagination. Much less should he encourage his congregants to dream that they have such an ability and urge them to “use that gift.”
Well, since NT prophecy was never intended to be 100% accurate, Phil Johnson has no business accusing Driscoll of the serious sin of divination! Clear proof of this is found in Acts 21:4. Paul is told through the Spirit not to go to Jerusalem. And what does Paul do? He disobeys! This doesn’t seem likely if Paul believed that the prophet spoke with the same infallible authority of Scripture. Do we really want to impute such gross negligence to the apostle Paul? There is no hint by Luke that Paul did anything wrong here.
Even stronger evidence is found with 1 Thess. 5:19-21 and 1 Cor. 14:29-38. In both cases Paul exhorts the church to test prophecies. In 1 Thessalonians this implies that prophecies contain some good things and some not so good things. It is inconceivable that if Paul believed NT prophecy carried the authority of God’s very words that he would encourage people to test it in the way that he did. As John Piper writes, Paul desires that the church “not take prophecy as a word of Scripture but as a Spirit-prompted word to be weighed by Scripture.”
The salacious details he recounts are totally unnecessary. They serve only to reinforce the concern some of us have raised: Why does Driscoll have such a fixation with obscene subject matter, ribald stories, and racy talk? The smutty particulars regarding a counselee’s tryst in a cheap hotel are not merely unnecessary; “it is disgraceful even to speak of [such] things” (Ephesians 5:12).
This is a very weak argument. If you want to look for ribald stories and racy talk you need to go no further than the Scriptures. Has no one read Ezekiel 16? It makes Driscoll’s story look like something from Sesame Street. Sure, Driscoll’s story is obscene, but the purpose of it was to bring someone to repentance. And in that sense Driscoll’s prophetic impression is akin to a passage like Ezekiel 16.
Doug Wilson discusses the righteousness of God’s speech in these situations: “Ezekiel rails against the adulterous idolatry of the Israelites by using sexual imagery of the most graphic sort. He uses obscenity to reveal the real obscenity of doing such things in defiance of God’s law . . . Ezekiel was more concerned about the obscenity he was exposing than the obscenity he was using . . . Phineas certainly observed a man and a woman copulating, but he was not doing so as a voyeur. His interest was ethical; he was taking aim” (Fidelity, pp. 15-16).
For that same reason (among others), these yarns aren’t even believable. The Holy Spirit’s own eyes are too pure to behold evil, and He cannot look on wickedness (Habakkuk 1:13). So why would He display pornographic visions to Mark Driscoll, whose mind and mouth are already too lewd anyway?
Ummmm …. Ezekiel 16? Rinse, wash, repeat. And by the way, that’s a silly examination of Habbakuk. Remember, the book of Habbakuk is filled with punishments meted out on Judah and the countries who were used by God to punish her. The text indicates that these punishments included grotesque pillaging caused by the sovereign hand of the Father. We’re going to need to go a little deeper than prooftexting a verse from Habbakuk.
This proves that cessationists’ concerns are not far-fetched. Reformed charismatics frequently complain that it’s unfair for cessationists not to expressly exempt themwhen we criticize the eccentricities of the wacko
fringemainstream of the larger charismatic movement. But Reformed charismatics themselves aren’t careful to distance themselves from charismatic nuttiness. John Piper was openly intrigued with the Toronto Blessing when it was at its peak. (If he ever denounced it as a fraud, I never heard or read where he stated that fact publicly.) Wayne Grudem to this day endorses Jack Deere’s Surprised by the Power of the Spirit, despite the way Deere lionizes Paul Cain. Sam Storms aligned himself with the Kansas City Prophets’ cultfor almost a decade. I can’t imagine how anyone holding Grudem’s view of modern prophecy could possibly repudiate what Driscoll insists he has experienced. Does anyone really expect a thoughtful analysis or critique of Driscoll’s view of the “gift of discernment” (much less a collective repudiation of this kind of pornographic divination) from Reformed charismatics? I certainly don’t.
First of all, if John Piper was openly intrigued with the Toronto Blessing than I would certainly hope that the Reformed world would stop and listen to what he had to say. If we’ve gotten to the place where we’re openly questioning the Reformed bona fides of someone like Piper than we’re in real trouble. I’ll take John Piper over Phil Johnson any and every day of the week. And so what? Grudem endorses Deere’s book. Unlike most of the Reformed fanboys who comment on Teampyro’s blog I’ve actually read Surprised by the Voice of God. If you do read it, you will have to grapple with the eerily accurate prophecies that Paul Cain has made over the years. And in the cases that I’ve read they have all lead to God being glorified through his people being drawn back to Him. So, it’s implausible then that Satan is behind these claims. The only option must be that Cain and company are lying. But, do we really want to get ourselves to the place where we’re openly accusing someone with Sam Storms pedigree of lying?