Thursday, October 19, 2006

Take a Guess!

Yes, I know. I should probably write more often. But a lot of new theological thoughts have been entering my mind as of late and I just don't think i'm ready to start writing on those things until my thoughts are more developed. These recent develpments include some study in the areas of textual criticism, Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, and Watchtower theology. So when I feel like i'm somewhat established in those areas, we'll probably see an overload of new blogs.

But for now, I thought i'd post something that's always been on my mind. So i'd like for you to try something. Take a wild guess at what this quote is from...And don't cheat!

"And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them...And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that he is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that all these gifts of which I have spoken, which are spiritual, never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only according to the unbelief of the children of men...And now I speak unto all the ends of the earth; that if the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief."

Where did this quote come from? Did it come from one of Benny Hinn's latest prophecies? Or was it from an early church father testifying to the continuation of the miracle gifts? Nope, this quote is from none other than the false prophet and founder of the Mormon church, Joseph Smith in Moroni 10:8, 19, 24.

So what is the significance of this passage? Everyone who calls themselves a Charismatic or Pentecostal and/or believes that the miracle gifts, such as healing and tongues, are for today, must be able to explain two things:

1) The "gifts" bear no resemblance to what was written about in the Scriptures.

2) Christians have not (and still don't) manifested the miracle gifts from the 2nd century all the way to the present.

In doing personal research in the areas of Pentecostal theology, i've always wondered why I can't find any early sources within orthodox Christianity that testify to a present manifestation of the miracle gifts? So i've always wanted to know: what are the earliest sources that would attempt to explain away the second point mentioned above? Or in other words, before the 19th century, was there anyone even attempting to defend the continuationist position that the miracle gifts had not ceased?

The results thus far are astonishing: the earliest source for the defense of the miracle gifts so far is....THE BOOK OF MORMON? Incredible! Now, before someone tries to accuse me of guilty by association, let me assure you that I am not using this argument to disprove the continuationist position. I simply want to bring up something for my Charismatic and Pentecostal readers to think about: Is it not atleast a little bit interesting that THE BOOK OF MORMON is the earliest defense of the continuationist position? And if i'm wrong, please show me an earlier source.

One last thing I noticed from this passage in Moroni--it uses the same argumentation in verse 19 (which is a quote from Hebrews 13:8) that Charismatics use today! "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever! Therefore, since Jesus doesn't change, miracles can't cease!" Of course, this is taking Hebrews 13:8 grossly out of context and is based on a misunderstanding of the continuationist position. No continuationist believes that miracles have ceased. We simply believe that the *gifts* have ceased. But what about Hebrews 13:8? If the Mormons and Pentecostals are correct, then we have a serious problem on our hands. Would this not mean that Jesus must do the same things, in the same way, from the moment he created the world all the way to the present? If so, then let's see how well this logic follows through:

1) If Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then how could he enter into human flesh and die on the cross for our sins? Would this not imply change?

2) If Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then why did the Holy Spirit not manifest itself in the lives of every believer until Acts 2? Would this not imply change?

3) If Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then why did He once require animal sacrifice, but no longer today? Would this not imply change?

Obviously, the argument fails miserably. Hebrews 13:8 has nothing to do with the fact that Jesus is free to manifest miracle gifts in believers as well as cause them to cease. It only has to do with the fact that His character or essense will never change. For example, Jesus cannot rid Himself of the attribute of love because that would change His character.

Again, I would love to see some quotes from an early Patristic source testifying to the defense of the miracle gifts. If you know of any, please send them my way!

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