Volume 14, Number 1 (Spring 2003)

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  • by Richard L. Mayhue

    This essay examines Dr. R. C. Sproul's thesis in The Last Days According to Jesus, that moderate preterism as it relates to Christ's second coming is convincingly proven by three time-indicators in the Gospels and the writing date for John's Revelation. The essay evaluates each of these four time referents historically and/or exegetically in order to determine if Sproul's claims can be biblically substantiated. The three Matthean time-frame references have better alternative interpretations (both before and after A.D. 70) in regard to time of fulfillment than the A.D. 70 date, which preterism requires of all three. Also, the late writing date for Revelation (mid-90s) has the preponderance of evidence on its side; this one conclusion alone invalidates postmillennial preterism. Since these time-indicators that are critically important to the preterist position do not support the system's foundational claim that Christ's parousia occurred within the lifetime of His disciples, this reviewer concludes that Scripture does not teach preterism, moderate or otherwise, as claimed by Dr. Sproul. Therefore, Jesus was a futurist in regard to biblical prophecies of His second coming.

  • by Robert L. Thomas

    An emerging field of study among evangelicals goes by the name modern linguistics. Its terminology, self-appraisal, approach to language analysis, and relationship to traditional exegesis furnish an introduction to a comparison with grammatical-historical hermeneutics. Indispensable to an analysis of modern linguistics is a grasping of its preunderstanding and its placing of the language of the Bible into the same category as all human languages and its integration with other secular disciplines and the effect that preunderstanding has on its interpretation of the biblical text. Its conflicts with grammatical-historical principles include a questioning of the uniqueness of the biblical languages, its differing in the handling of lexical and grammatical elements of the text, its differing in regard to the importance of authorial intention, its lessening of precision in inter- pretation, its elevating of the primacy of discourse, its elevating of the impact of stylistic considerations, and a questioning of the feasibility of understanding the text in a literal way. Such contrasts mark the wide divergence of modern linguistics from traditional grammatical-historical interpretation.

  • by Will C. Varner

    An assessment of the Messianic Synagogue movement is difficult because it exists in so many forms, but some general observations to cover all the forms are possible. Early in the twentieth century, a Jewish Christian named David Baron evaluated the Messianic Judaism of his day. In the movement he saw specific dangers for the body of Christ, stressing how the movement tends to destroy unity in the body of Christ by erecting a wall of partition between Jewish believers and Gentile believers. Similar concerns about the Messianic Jewish movement prevail in its revival during the last several decades. They touch on biblical-theological matters, including the movement's bringing into the present the Judaism that Paul relegated to the past (cf. Gal 1:13-16), its tendency to promote divisions among Christians (cf. Gal 3:28; Eph 2:11-22), its emphasis on the shadow rather than the substance of NT fulfillments (cf. Col 2:16-17), and its tendency to redefine Jesus' deity. Other concerns arise in historical and pragmatic matters: a return to the Judaism of apostolic times is impossible; history teaches that Messianic Synagogues are not more effective in witnessing to the Jewish community; taking Jewish believers away from churches contributes to 'Gentilization' of the church; Messianic Synagogues may become an excuse for the church to transfer efforts in Jewish evangelism; and emphasis on non-biblical Jewish observances is subject to Jesus' condemnation of the Pharisees' Oral Law. The early church in Antioch of Syria in its assimilation of Jewish and Gentile believers into one body offers asuitable model for the contemporary church to follow.

  • by R. Larry Overstreet

    If one accepts the inerrancy of the Bible, locating Israel's crossing of the Red Sea in Exodus 14:15 any place other than the northwestern arm of the Red Sea (i.e., the Gulf of Suez) is practically impossible. Reasons for such a placement involve direct references to yam sûph in Num 33:10-11; Exod 10:19; 23:31; Num 21:4; Deut 1:40; 2:1; Judg 11:16; 1 Kgs 9:26; Jer 49:21 and an indirect reference to the body of water in Isa 11:15. The writings of Herodotus, Pindar, and Strabo furnish further evidence that ¦DL2D¬ 2V8"FF" (erythr‘ thalassa, "Red Sea") was the name correctly applied to the place of Israel's crossing. From writers involved with translating the LXX and The Genesis Apocryphon and from Josephus comes even more proof of that location. In two instances the NT verifies the "Red Sea" terminology as correct when referring to the exodus. Sûph means "end" or "termination" rather than "reeds." Details of the Red Sea crossing require a supernatural intervention that created a substantial opening in the sea to allow so many Israelites to cross in such a short time.

  • by Gary W. Derickson

    Evangelicals' experimentation with critical methodology has resulted in questions being raised about long-held viewpoints regarding the priority of Matthew as the first Gospel to be written and about whether Matthew himself actually wrote the Gospel. Such questions recall instances in the recent past when what looked like a minor departure from a traditional belief soon became an issue of questioning the authority and inerrancy of Scripture. Historical-critical approaches to Scripture have, over time, proven to be a threat to evangelicalism's traditional view of Scripture in both doctrinal and practical realms. The movement among evangelicals to embrace Markan instead of Matthean priority appears to be another first step away from the valued evangelical view of Scripture, because it assumes that someone other than an eyewitness of Jesus' life composed the Gospel of Matthew. The church fathers were unanimous in naming Matthew as the first Gospel to be written and in identifying the apostle Matthew as its author. Their testimony indicates that it was the dominant Gospel in the early church and contains nothing about any literary dependence between writers of the two Gospels. The issue of apostolic authorship is at stake in one's viewpoint on this matter. If at any point a Gospel writer, be it pseudo-Matthew or any other Gospel writer, has embellished eyewitness testimony to promote his own theological viewpoint, that is a violation of biblical inerrancy that lies outside the boundary of evangelicalism.

Volume 14, Number 2 (Fall 2003)

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An Issue Devoted to the Subject of Cessationism

  • by James F. Stitzinger

    Noncessationism has spread rapidly in recent years, being represented in three groups: Classic Pentecostalism, the Charismatic Movement, and Third-Wave Theology. Cessationism joins the three groups in representing the fourth position on spiritual gifts. An examination of several Greek words is helpful in arriving at a definition of spiritual gifts: charisma, pneumatikos, doma, dorea, merismos, diaireseis, diakoniai, and energemata. Two positions on spiritual gifts exist today, one holding that all gifts are for today and the other holding that some gifts were temporary and some permanent. The latter position sees apostleship, prophecy, wisdom, knowledge, faith, miracles, healing, tongues, and interpretation of tongues among the temporary gifts. Apostleship was a foundational gift for the NT church. Along with the temporary gifts, the latter position sees a number of permanent gifts: evangelism, pastors and teachers, and those with gifts of assistance, administration, exhortation, giving, and showing mercy. The primary goal of all the gifts is building up the body of Christ.

  • by Donald G. McDougall

    Looking at the setting of 1 Corinthians 13 first in 1 Corinthians as a whole and then in the setting of 1 Corinthians 12:14 is the beginning of an investigation of cessationism in 1 Cor 13:8-12. Next comes a study of 1 Cor 13:8-11 in the context of 1 Corinthians 13. The following step is an investigation of the terms used in 1 Cor 13:8-11, including prophecies, knowledge, and tongues. At that point the study addresses the subject of the cessation of gifts spoken of in 1 Cor 13:8-10, followed by attention given to "tongues shall cease." The time of the cessation of the gifts in 1 Cor 13:10 is next for consideration, a time that depends heavily on the meaning of teleios in that verse. The term means "mature" in that instance, referring to a maturation that would come to the church. Then comes a tracing of the argument's progression in 1 Cor 13:8-11. The whole discussion of the gifts' cessation is part of the emphasis of chapter 13 on the supremacy of love, a factor that should always be in mind in a discussion of cessation. First Cor 13:8-12 intertwines revelation, cessation, and maturation with cessation and maturation coming at a related point in time, but speaking of the cessation of revelatory gifts at the time the church matures.

  • by John F. MacArthur

    Strange private prophecies have been a noted characteristic of the charismatic movement, prophecies such as those received by Oral Roberts, Linda Fehl, Jack Hayford, Larry Lea, and Kenneth Hagin. J. Rodman Williams endorses such experiences, but Edward N. Gross correctly dismisses such special revelations as erroneous and limits such revelations to those resulting in the writing of the Bible. According to 2 Tim 3:16, inspired means that Scripture is God-breathed, i.e., God Himself speaking. Some modern theologians such as Dewey Beegel support the charismatic agenda by teaching that the canon of Scripture is not closed and that God is still giving special revelation. Such teaching of progressive revelation, supported also by J. Rodman Williams and Kenneth Copeland, creates great turmoil in the church and is tantamount to violating the Scriptural injunctions not to add prophecies to what has been written in its pages. The biblical canon closed after the writing of Revelation and was popularly recognized soon after in the ancient church. Jude 3 speaks of the faith once for all delivered to the saints and warns repeatedly against tolerating false prophets. The early church applied tests of apostolic authorship, content, and responses by the churches to determine which books met the criteria of inspiration, resulting in a uniquely inspired and authoritative set of books.

  • by F. David Farnell

    The Signs and Wonders Movement, also called the Third Wave, has made tremendous inroads into evangelicalism since the early 1980's. After initial arguments against it in the late 1980s and early 1990s, debate has mostly subsided. Current general opinion has been acceptance, indifference, or tolerance of the movement and its view of spiritual gifts, especially its form of 'prophecy.' The prime justification for the revival of what this group terms the 'prophetic gift' has been the work of Wayne Grudem. Many articles, including those of the present writer, have examined the exegetical, theological, and doctrinal errors of his position. The present article uses a unique approach to refuting Grudem's viewpoint of non-authoritative congregational prophecy by examining the earliest 'charismatic' crisis in the early church, the one caused by the Montanist movement. The earliest ancient sources to refute Montanism reveal how the early church immediately after the apostolic period understood the gift of prophecy. An examination of the ancient churches' understanding of prophecy and refutation of Montanism also supplies a striking condemnation of Grudem's viewpoint and strongly reinforces the argument that he has imposed a novel as well as unorthodox interpretation of the NT gift of prophecy.

  • by Richard L. Mayhue

    The study of divine healing must include the tragic abundance of false teachers with false teachings and false practices, who claim biblical authority, but upon closer examination are clearly not of God. Do 'gifts of healings' mentioned in 1 Cor 12:9, 28, 30 still operate today as in NT times? This sign-gift ceased with the close of the NT canon. Does God still heal as He did in both the OT and the NT? An inductive study of the biblical record (including the OT, Gospels, Acts, and NT Epistles) establishes unmistakable characteristics of genuine divine healing. The biblical standards become the measure by which alleged contemporary divine-healing claims should be judged, whether of God or not. Next, God's ultimate healing promise of salvation in 1 Peter 2:24 deserves attention. In context, the passage speaks of spiritual healing (salvation), not physical healing. Finally, a series of theological observations lead to the practical conclusion that Christians should focus on the spiritual/eternal rather than the physical/temporal. When God does heal today, it will not be through human agency, and it will be characterized as were His healings recorded in Scripture.

  • by Robert L. Thomas

    The Master's Seminary is noncessationist in regard to such gifts as teaching, helps, and administration, but is cessationist regarding revelatory and sign gifts. Recent changes in evangelical biblical hermeneutics that have accompanied comparable changes in evangelicalism as a whole have opened doors of opportunity for nonecessationists to defend their position in a new way. The new hermeneutical subjectivism has given continuationists an opportunity that is nonexistant when following traditional grammatical-historical principles of interpretation. Four examples illustrate this use of revisionist hermeneutics. (1) Narrative-based interpretation takes its cue from evangelical redaction criticism and its theory that narrative literature can teach doctrine just as effectively as didactic type writings, a theory that has been successfully refuted. (2) Community-based interpretation sees a contemporary Christian community as playing an indispensable role in assigning meaning to a biblical text. This too contradicts traditional grammatical-historical principles. (3) Tradition-based interpretation allows for reading into a biblical passage an interpreter's own background and beliefs, but differences in defining how to limit that tradition reflects the extreme subjectivism to which such a principle leads. (4) Mediating-based interpretation theorizes the existence of a common ground between cessationists and noncessationists and alters traditional hermeneutical principles in a way to accommodate that preunderstanding. All four approaches illustrate the growing sophistication of noncessationist hermeneuticsand their continuing violations of grammatical-historical hermeneutics.

  • by Dennis M. Swanson