SECOND UPDATE BELOW
While I could have easily written this post in a 'generalized' way without naming any names or sources, sometimes I don't think that's very helpful or realistic. Sometimes generalized posts like that tend to paint a picture of "this COULD happen" rather than drive home the point of "this IS happening". Being a Berean matters a great deal, and this is one of those situations where we can look and listen a little closer and practice that.
The day before yesterday I wrote:
"I do have a feeling that a lot of those who call themselves "reformed" and "charismatic" at the same time might not be nearly as critical of my old church, as I am. I find that striking as well, and deeply disturbing. While none of this is new to me, it just seems to keep popping up all the time, and with more frequency. Also rather disturbing, is that it's becoming more and more embraced by those who call themselves reformed, or Calvinistic."While in that church, it was quite common for someone to get a "word of knowledge" and share that with whomever it was about. Quite often this information came in the form of visions where the person would then interpret the vision to mean whatever it was supposed to mean. While the vision itself may have been a normal scenario (such as two men walking down the street) or it may have appeared as a rather outrageous scenario (such as a dark cloudy form that appeared to be alive, surrounding a person) the interpretation of it would usually include something that someone was supposed to do, in order to remain faithful to God's will for their lives (i.e., go to seminary, get married, etc.). The person would then announce that God spoke to them in the form of a vision and this is what it meant. There was never anything in Scripture to back this up, nor did you ever question if they really "heard" from God, or if their interpretation of that vision was at all accurate. If someone had a vision and said they heard from God, that's just the way it was and you were not to question it. Doing so would indicate your lack of spiritual maturity, lack of faith, and lack of desire to get in where God was moving and doing great things. Generally, these 'prophecies' would simply come to pass because the person it was about, would see to it that they did what the "prophet" told them to do. After all, the vision and the message were directly from God, so they did not question it.
If you'd like a real, current example of this kind of 'prophetic word' being spoken forth, then here you go (emphasis is mine):
"At this stage Driscoll announced that God had spoken to him and he had a prophetic word for our movement and Terry. He really had our attention. Mark looked directly at Terry and began his prophecy. He told Terry that "Newfrontiers was like a daughter to you. You have birthed it, held it, guarded it, cared for it, tended to it, prayed for it, loved it. You have been an amazing father to them." Mark said that while at Terry's home he had noticed all the family pictures. In particular he had noticed a picture of the wedding of Terry's daughter and a picture of Terry walking Anna down the aisle to give her away. He felt that God said, while not in the immediate future, "there will come a day when you will need to walk Newfrontiers down the aisle and marry her to a great man so she will have children." - John Lanferman writing about Mark Driscoll's recent visit.
To actually hear for yourself what Driscoll said, go here. You can hear this on "Main Session 6" at roughly 1 hour and 22 minutes into the message.
While I do not know if Driscoll calls himself a prophet, I know that others certainly do. And now, some questions.
• What is the Biblical test to prove if a man is a true prophet, or a false one?
• Can we make a distinction between Prophet and prophet - and back it up with Scripture? (What I mean by this, is there a difference between someone raised up by God to foretell future events as revealed to them by God, and someone who is simply retelling what has already been revealed in Scripture. In other words, is the office of prophet in the formal sense of the OT prophets and first century church, still in effect today?)
• Does the Bible say that God literally speaks to His people today the way He did in OT or NT times?
• How do we reconcile the definition of Sola Scriptura (the Scriptures alone are our sole rule of faith and practice), with the idea that God gives extra-biblical revelation (i.e., specific details about events that have not yet come to pass - and - are nowhere to be found in Scripture)?
• Does God give extra-biblical revelation today?
• If someone says "God spoke to me" how do you know it's true?
Between what I read at John Lanferman's blog, and what I heard Mark Driscoll say in that above linked mp3 (and what I've heard him say at other times regarding the sign gifts, and the claim that he has heard God audibly speak to him on a few occasions), there is no question in my mind at all, that aside from the dogmatic free will teachings, there are A LOT of "reformed charismatics" that would have felt right at home in my old church. The language is eerily the same, with a heavy emphasis on profound spiritual and deeply emotional experiences. The tongues, the prayer languages, the healings, the prophesying - all of it present and accounted for.
I'd be most interested in your thoughts to my questions. This is not a "bash Driscoll" post, just in case you were wondering, these are serious questions for consideration.
Connie at Practicing Theology, after consulting Grudem's Systematic Theology, is left with very similar questions as those I've posed here. A fellow ex-charismatic (although I'm not entirely sure I can call myself that since I never really embraced it all, but was always desperately confused by it and had more questions than charismatics are allowed to have), Connie's post "Hear me now and believe me later: "continued" revelation today" is great food for thought. Do go and read it, and consider her questions as well.
A reader of this blog contacted me today after noticing something that didn't quite add up for them. If you have listened to Mark Driscoll's mp3 linked above, you will notice that he says "It was interesting the prayers that were given and the Scriptures that were read beforehand, I felt that God gave me a word, (long pause) and it really was in line..." He then goes on to give what some are calling a historic and prophetic word of God for the ministry of Newfrontiers. It would appear that they believe and that Driscoll was intending for them to understand that it was during his time just prior to speaking that this prophetic word came to him.
Here is the way John Lanferman described the statement:
He told Terry that "Newfrontiers was like a daughter to you. You have birthed it, held it, guarded it, cared for it, tended to it, prayed for it, loved it. You have been an amazing father to them." Mark said that while at Terry's home he had noticed all the family pictures. In particular he had noticed a picture of the wedding of Terry's daughter and a picture of Terry walking Anna down the aisle to give her away. He felt that God said, while not in the immediate future, "there will come a day when you will need to walk Newfrontiers down the aisle and marry her to a great man so she will have children."
Here is the concern which I find very compelling. The reader who pointed this out to me suggests that it was rather curious that this near-exact wording was used by Mark Driscoll to define himself and his own ministry involvement, over 8 months ago in a cover letter that accompanied a 145 page document distributed to Mars Hill Church members. Here is that section of the cover letter:
"Emotionally, I told our Board of Directors recently that I felt like I walked Mars Hill down the aisle and married her off so that she could be best cared for and loved in the next season of her life. I remain her father who loves and cares for her and is vitally involved in her growth and well-being, but now trust the elders to take good care of her thanks in part to a structure that enables her to be loved well." - source
I have been informed from an extremely reliable source, that this is in fact the very cover letter that accompanied the document mentioned above. Obviously I had to ask myself "was this so-called 'historic' prophecy just that, or was he just using something he'd already used before, changing the names, but attributing the "vision" to the Lord, instead of himself, to lend more credibility to his words?" I think it's a fair and valid question, considering the above information.
I share this information here with my readers so that they also can look a little closer at this and truly BE Bereans, and not just blindly accept and endorse whatever they hear from popular evangelical leaders or their most vocal supporters. None of us are perfect, and none of us are infallible - and none of us deserve to be exalted in such a way as some appear to be doing with Mark Driscoll.
Once again, theology matters. Our theology, if based on blind acceptance of what others say God is like, or God is doing, is then a man-centered theology and dishonoring to God completely. Our view of God should be the one HE has revealed about Himself, and He deserves no less than for us to diligently search the Scriptures to know Him.