Thursday, May 03, 2012

Mis-Quoting the Doctor (Again)

I came across this blog (HT: Tim Challies) written by one of the pastors at John Macarthur's church.  Rather unsurprisingly he quotes from some of Dr Lloyd-Jones writing seeking to rebuff the continuationist/charismatic view that Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones believed in the charismatic gifts - especially that of prophecy.

Busenitz uses the sermons of Dr Lloyd-Jones from "Christian Unity".  And on first reading, the quote does seem to be definitive;

"A prophet was a person to whom truth was imparted by the Holy Spirit. . . . A revelation or message or some insight into truth came to them, and, filled with the Spirit, they were able to make utterances which were of benefit and profit to the Church. Surely it is clear that this again was temporary, and for this good reason, that in those early days of the Church there were no New Testament Scriptures, the Truth had not yet been expounded in written words".

And this is true - Dr Lloyd-Jones did indeed argue in several places that he felt the office (or gift) of the prophet (according to Ephesians 4) was a temporary gift that had ceased.  He also argued that the apostle had ceased as per the evangelist (I wonder how Macarthur and his pastors would deal with that fact).

But this writer is either ignorant or is deliberately ignoring Dr Lloyd-Jones other teaching on the gift of prophecy.  I refer to his magnum opus - the series on Romans and in particularly chapter 12; "according to prophecy let us prophesy".  Consider these quotes by Dr Lloyd-Jones;

"What then is the gift of prophecy?  Well I would define it as a direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  What for?  It's purpose is to give a word from God or the word of God to the church ... What is the difference between prophecy on the one hand and preaching and teaching on the other?  Because there is a difference.  And I would say that the difference can be put in one word - immediacy".

That is all well and good, the cessationists may say.  But that still doesn't make Dr Lloyd-Jones a continuationist.  No - and I'm not claiming he was.  My issue is with a cessationist writer claiming the Doctor was cessationist.  Later in the message, in fact, Dr Lloyd-Jones said he actually prophesied;

"A preacher and teacher may also be a prophet.  I have no doubt at all about this.  I say it again to the glory of God, I think I know a little about this.  I think I know something of what it is to be preaching or teaching and suddenly to find myself prophesying".

Now it is important to add he went on to add caveats of safety - for example, he firmly taught he did not believe a Christian could prophesy at will and he absolutely did not believe prophecy should include the "for-telling of events".  His passion was that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was key in the life of the believer and spiritual gifts flowed from that encounter with God.

"I say again, that my position is that I believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a separate, distinct, unique experience.  It may be accompanied by remarkable gifts; it may simply manifest the "regular" gifts to a heightened degree.  It is not for us to say that none of these things can happen.  Anything is possible in the sovereignty of the Spirit".

And that is the point.  Dr Lloyd-Jones was not a "classic charismatic" and I am not claiming as such.  But I am objecting to cessationists such as this man posting a blog and ignoring/being ignorant of the wider and broader scope of Dr Lloyd-Jones teaching.  I think it demonstrates the danger of the "celebrity pastor" question - one man being elevated to a position so that groups have to fight over which position he actually defends. It is a good reminder to honestly approach Scripture and see what it teaches while thanking God for the servants of the Ephesians 4 ministries that He gives.