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Responding to the 'closed canon' argument against special revelations and sign gifts?

Discussion in 'Sign Gifts' started by TruthSeek3r, Sep 6, 2021.

  1. TruthSeek3r

    TruthSeek3r Well-Known Member

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    In my experience chatting with cessationists, I've noticed that a very recurrent cessationist argument against the continuation of special revelations and sign gifts is what I would call the 'closed canon' argument. Presented in a deductive form, the argument would look something like this:
    • Premise 1: God only gives special revelations to His servants/apostles with the purpose of revealing information that is intended to become part of the Biblical canon.
    • Premise 2: God only gives sign gifts to His servants/apostles to authenticate their authority as conveyors of inspired messages intended to become part of the Biblical canon.
    • Premise 3: The Biblical canon was closed at the end of the first century.
    • Conclusion 1: Therefore, special revelations ceased at the end of the first century (from P1 and P3).
    • Conclusion 2: Therefore, sign gifts ceased at the end of the first century (from P2 and P3).
    Question: How do continuationists respond to the 'closed canon' argument against the continuation of special revelations and sign gifts?

    Note: I think there are 5 different ways one could attempt to refute this argument: 1) show that the argument is logically invalid (i.e. the conclusions do not logically follow from the premises), 2) show that premise 1 is false, 3) show that premise 2 is false, 4) show that premise 3 is false or 5) any combination of the previous options.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2021
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  2. Oscarr

    Oscarr Senior Veteran Supporter

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    It was recognised by the Early Church that inspired revelation to supplement what Jesus taught in the Gospels was given to the Apostles of Christ (Peter, Paul, John, James, and Jude). The book of Acts is a historical document describing the birth of the Early Church, showing how the Holy Spirit worked with the Apostles to establish it. All these were written during the 1st Century, with the last inspired book being Revelation, which was written near the end of the century. Once the last Apostle died, there were no more Apostles of Christ and therefore no more new inspired revelation. Subsequent writing by the Church Fathers explained and clarified the revelation that had already been given through the Apostles. None of the Church Fathers claimed special "new revelation" over and above what was already in the writings recognised by the church as the inspired writing of the Apostles.

    The idea of "new revelation" started with the Papacy, and in these modern times is carried on through the Charismatic Faith movement, Bethel, and Hillsong.

    "Sign gifts" is not a term found in the New Testament. The gifts of the Holy Spirit as listed in 1 Corinthians 12 are for the strengthening of the whole body of Christ. These gifts are still there for the church today. They did not cease in the 4th Century onwards because of any decree from God. They ceased because Christians lost their first love and became as heathen as the pagans around them. Constantine closed the pagan temples and instructed pagans and Christians to worship together. But the pagans brought their pagan practices into the Christian church as a result, and this merger of pagan and Christian resulted in the formation of the Papacy. A number those pagan practices have persisted in our churches to this day.

    The purpose of the supernatural gifts was not as a sign that the Gospel was true. The Gospel itself is the power of God leading to salvation. Peter proved that in his message to the crowd at the Day of Pentecost. He did not have signs and wonders in his message to them, but 3000 happily and joyfully embraced Christ and continued in prayer, fellowship and in the Apostles' doctrine. It was the power of the Gospel through Peter's preaching that achieved this.

    The presence of signs and wonders are there to confront the unconverted that God is real and alive and that they should fear Him. The signs and wonders in the early church restrained the Jews and pagans from destroying the infant church. In the presence of the signs and wonders, "great fear fell on all". In fact, they were too scared to do damage to the early church because they knew that supporting the church was a very real and powerful God.

    The problem with the Faith movement is that they are pretending to have signs and wonders, but it is all talk. In spite of them saying that people are being saved and healed in their mega-churches and conferences, when the "healings" are examined, the reality is that no one has actually been healed at all, and that most who make decisions fall away back into the world, and not continue on in fellowship, prayer, and the Apostles' doctrine as long-term, faithful church members.
     
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  3. topher694

    topher694 Go Turtle!

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    Ahhhh, come on now. You and I both know that was nothing more than "add on" Christianity. I mean Peter never said anything about the broad road to hell so we should probably question the gospel being preached... am I right?
     
  4. Abaxvahl

    Abaxvahl Well-Known Member

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    I do not see how P1 is established at all. I simply would deny that premise due to experience in the Church. I think they fail to distinguish between public revelation and private revelation. Public revelation is made up of the Deposit of Faith given by Jesus to the Apostles for the whole world, part of it is Sacred Scripture. This sort of revelation is binding on all and all must obey it. Private revelation is any revelation given by God to a person that is not binding on all like this, and is usually time-sensitive and for a specific group (although they do not sin if they ignore it). A personal vision of a coming famine in a nation to a random Christian in our era would count as one. This is not binding on all.

    Due to these two types of revelation which have been witnessed to in the Church (the Shepherd of Hermas is an early Christian private revelation given to a specific man, Hermas, which is not part of Scripture and is not binding on all, and the visions of St. Perpetua is another early Christian private revelation like so given to her by God before her martyrdom) I would simply deny P1, in addition to not knowing how it is possibly established.
     
  5. Maria Billingsley

    Maria Billingsley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I think the only way to prove the continuation of the sign gifts are still with us today, is to personally experience or witness it. That being said, God is not interested in those who doubt, so the likelihood of proof will probably never present itself.
    Blessings.
     
  6. Oscarr

    Oscarr Senior Veteran Supporter

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    There are scores of videos on Youtube that show conferences where healing and miracles are claimed. But all one can see in, for example, Benny Hinn's meetings, are people falling down "in the Spirit" but no evidence of anyone being actually healed. In one meeting, when a woman tried to get Hinn's attention to her husband in a wheelchair suffering from a stroke, he just brushed her off and totally ignored the stroke victim. I know why he did that. He couldn't heal anyone with any significant medical condition. What would be significant would be to go into Hinn's crusade back room where all the really serious cases are there who need healing. But he never goes in there, and neither do the cameras. If they did, all that would be seen is folks having hands laid on them without any healing taking place, and they would leave as sick and disabled as they came in.

    A real heart-breaking video is of a small child in a wheelchair, horribly disabled, leaving the crusade of a prominent "faith healer" not healed, because the good evangelist never had the child come to the stage to receive prayer. That evangelist was the one who put healthy people into wheelchairs and pretended to make them walk.

    In all the Youtube videos I have watched, I have never seen a truly lame person in a wheelchair being genuinely healed. I saw one where Hinn laid hands on a guy in wheelchair, forcing the guy backwards out of the wheelchair, and then Hinn passed him by to pray for others, leaving his assistants to help the guy up and back into the wheelchair, still as disabled as he was before.

    So with these prominent ones claiming signs and wonders, when they are closely examined, we see that it is all talk, and in some cases, blatant fraud, like Todd White lengthening legs. Close examination shows that no healing took place at all, it was the way White manipulated the feet to make it appear that the leg was lengthened. Total fraud.

    So, where are the Youtube videos that show real healings? I can't find any.
     
  7. spiritfilledjm

    spiritfilledjm Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I really have no idea where it came from that a prophecy means that one is adding to the Bible. Personally, I always say that prophecy does not mean that one is declaring that God is adding what they feel they hear Him saying to the Bible. There are numerous prophets mentioned throughout scripture where their prophecies were never recorded in the Bible. Does that mean what they said was not truly from the Lord? If so, why were they then listed as prophets?
     
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  8. topher694

    topher694 Go Turtle!

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    Amen! This is a kind of bait and switch opponents sometimes do. No prophets claim that their words should add to scripture, they pretty much universally state that prophecy should line up with scripture the way it currently is... the exception being obvious cult leaders like David Koresh who clearly have nothing to do with Christianity anyway.
     
  9. Francis Drake

    Francis Drake Returning adventurer.

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    Amen.
    It is about 60 years since I first heard God speak to me. Since then I've lived my life with the prophetic voice of God constantly directing my path, giving wisdom, knowledge, visions, dreams etc.

    From the smallest of things, to the greatest, every time we moved house, it was precisely directed by the Lord. My business ventures where created on prophetic words, visions and dreams etc.

    I experienced far more of the power of God at work in the business world than I ever did in church, and that directly impinged on my profitable future or bankruptcy!

    Never once did it occur to me that such revelations were adding to scripture, they were just part of a loving relationship with my heavenly Father.

    The idea that God ceased doing such things is laughable.
     
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  10. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It's the "Thus saith the Lord" thing. I don't accept any such statement simply because someone says it. Prophets in the OT seemed to be special people, KNOWN to the job. Not just someone in a worship service, and not someone on TV who claims to speak for the Lord. They are going to have to do better than that. I'm skeptical of my own thoughts along those lines —did God indeed tell me that, or am I just looking at my own imagination and principles? I've seen too much 'thrall' and too little God-honoring truth.
     
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  11. topher694

    topher694 Go Turtle!

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    Do some people take advantage of that, sure. But Jesus himself said John the Baptist was the greatest of the OT prophets and the least in the kingdom of heaven would be greater than he (John). So it may be unwise to dismiss thus saith the Lord entirely. As with everything discernment is key.
     
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  12. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I tell people, including relatives, that if God told them something (one said that he was sure God was telling him that anything made by human hands was evil) then they had BETTER behave accordingly, (to which he said his rational sense knew better than to think he could get along without such things altogether). But most of what I hear is a range of stuff from "God just impressed on me to tell you...." to "I said — God said" conversations; both of these smack of taking the Lord's name in vain; and some of what is said passes from one person to another, even from one denomination to another, which to me sounds like Jeremiah 23: "I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me."

    Mostly what gives it away is much like what I have seen, called 'tongues' —just the utter carelessness with which it is done. Both pretentious and careless. But then, I will be measured by my own standards, and my own words will he held against me. God have mercy on us all. Grace.
     
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  13. topher694

    topher694 Go Turtle!

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    Then I'm not sure why you are in this particular forum commenting.
     
  14. TruthSeek3r

    TruthSeek3r Well-Known Member

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    How about asking for confirmation? Next time they come to you with a word from God, ask them to tell you a word of knowledge. If God is talking to them, it shouldn't be hard for God to reveal to them something that only God and you know. That way, you will know that it's God who is talking to them.
     
  15. ARBITER01

    ARBITER01 Legend

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    True.

    It comes down to experience. If born again Christians are not going to seek anything from GOD beyond the first two steps of being born again and water immersed,... then they will know nothing about the gifts.

    It's a walk of faith, and there are more steps beyond just the first two.
     
  16. ss51

    ss51 Well-Known Member

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    Job 33-14 tells us He speaks one way, then another, though we don't perceive it. Once we perceive it, as you did early in life, then we can build on His guidance and direction, truly walking with Him in relationship.
    Jesus was clear most in this last of the last days would hold to an outward form of godliness denying the power available.
    I am so very thankful for your testimony to this truth He offers to all of us, yet so few find and walk in.
    bless you brother, in Jesus name
     
  17. LeGato

    LeGato LCMS/Crypto-Amish

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    Even as a Lutheran, I don't believe the "canon is closed".
     
  18. Guojing

    Guojing Well-Known Member

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    The key here is to understand that signs are for the nation of Israel. It began in Exodus 4.

    Now, depending on the doctrines you hold about whether we Christians who are saved in the Body of Christ, whether we become "part of Israel" or not, you will then form a doctrine on whether the same signs are to be present today.
     
  19. Francis Drake

    Francis Drake Returning adventurer.

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    Technically correct, we are indeed part of Israel, but believing in the sign gifts has nothing to do with knowledge anything about Israel.
    Plenty of people experience the sign gifts when they have no perspective on Israel, ancient or modern.

    I started my spiritual journey because it was triggered by the gifts of the spirit, receiving words and revelations from the Lord more than 10 years before I heard the gospel, and even longer before knew anything about Israel.

    Believing in the sign gifts is far more about reality and experience than having the right theology.
    In reality, it is theology (false) that tells people that the signs have ceased, thus stealing their heritage.
    Left to their own, they might believe what the bible says at face value.
     
  20. Guojing

    Guojing Well-Known Member

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    I would say, in my opinion, that you don't have a full understanding of the concept of "signs".

    Let me present the concept with scriptural backing.
    1. Signs are for the nation Israel. (Exodus 4, Psalms 74:9, Judges 6:13)
    2. The Messiah was promised to Israel and prophecy stated that he will perform many signs and wonders to prove his identity (Luke 7:20-23)
    3. When Jesus appeared, he performed all the necessary signs to testify to the nation Israel (John 20:30-31, Acts 2:22, Hebrews 2:4)
    Here are some thinking questions for any interested readers to understand my points above

    Did God tell Moses in Exodus 4, to tell the Jews to believe "in faith" that Moses is sent by God? In the last verse of Exodus 4, it was explicitly stated that the elders believed after the signs.

    Did the Angel of the Lord rebuked Gideon, in Judges 6:17, when the latter asked for signs that it was indeed the Lord talking to him?

    When John the Baptist's disciples came to Jesus in Luke 7 and ask him to verify his identity, why didn't Jesus rebuke them but immediately did all the signs required in Isaiah 35:4-6? Why didn't Jesus tell John's disciples to go back to John to tell him to believe in faith?

    Asking for signs is about the same as asking for evidence. Israel, since she was born in the book of Exodus, was never expected to take by faith that God was with them.

    With this, I hope the true meaning of 1 Corinthians 1:22 would be clearer to the reader. Paul did not mention that "for fun" but rather to teach the Body of Christ something fundamental about the nation of Israel.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021
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