The Montanist Crisis: A Key to Refuting Third-Wave Concepts of NT Prophecy

F. David Farnell | May 19, 2010

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.

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F. David Farnell Professor of New Testament B.A., San Diego Christian College M.Div., Talbot School of Theology Th.M., Talbot School of Theology Ph.D., Dallas Theological Seminary Dr. Farnell came to The Master's Seminary in 1997 from Southeastern Bible College, in Birmingham, Alabama, where he chaired the Department of Pastoral Theology and Biblical Studies from 1991-1994. In addition, he served as Academic Dean at Southeastern from 1994-1997. During this time in Alabama, he also concurrently pastored Brook Highland Community Church. Earlier, while completing his Master's degrees, Dr. Farnell served as a teaching assistant in the areas of New Testament and Bible Exposition at Talbot Theological Seminary. He has also functioned as registrar and instructor of Biblical studies at a small Christian college in San Diego, California. Dr. Farnell has pastored several churches and published extensively in books and periodicals. His most recent work is The Jesus Quest The Danger from Within, co-edited with the world-renowned apologist, Dr. Norman L. Geisler. Dr. Farnell has also written "The Independence View of Gospel Origins" in Three Views on the Origins of the Synoptic Gospels (Kregel, 2002) and The Jesus Crisis (Kregel, 1998) that he co-edited and to which he contributed several articles. He continues an emphasis on historical-critical ideologies with on-going research into recent interpretive trends in Gospel research. He is the host of The Danger Zone on Worldview Weekend Radio. He currently pastors Grace Bible Church in Ventura County, CA. LATEST BOOKS: BASICS of BIBLICAL CRITICISM: Helpful or Harmful? Authors: F. David Farnell, Thomas Howe, Thomas Marshall, Benjamin Cocar, Dianna Newman, Edward D. Andrews Biblical criticism is an umbrella term covering various techniques for applying literary historical-critical methods in analyzing and studying the Bible and its textual content. Biblical criticism is also known as higher criticism, literary criticism, and historical criticism. Biblical criticism has done nothing more than weaken and demoralize people's assurance in the Bible as being the inspired and fully inerrant Word of God and is destructive in its very nature. Historical criticism is made up of many forms of biblical criticism that are harmful to the authoritative Word of God: historical criticism, source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism, social-science criticism, canonical criticism, rhetorical criticism, structural criticism, narrative criticism, reader-response criticism, feminist criticism, and socioeconomic criticism. Not just liberal scholarship, but many moderate, even some "conservative" scholars have adopted historical criticism at some level. The authors herein show how adopting any level of biblical criticism by pastors, biblical teachers, students and scholars, will only diminish the trustworthiness of God's Word, e.g., inerrancy. Biblical criticism is extremely flawed, and its attack on the Bible has failed to demonstrate that the Bible is not the Word of God. On this Dr. Robert L. Thomas writes, "Someone needs to sound the alarm when evangelical leaders mislead the body of Christ. A mass evangelical exodus from this time-honored principle of interpreting Scripture is jeopardizing the church's access to the truths taught therein. Whether interpreters have forsaken the principle intentionally or have subconsciously ignored it, the damage is the same." - Robert L. Thomas (Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old, page 160). Vital Issues in the Inerrancy Debate General Editor: F. David Farnell Use the coupon code: inerrant (for 40% off at Wipf&Stock) The inerrancy of God's Word has been attacked throughout church history. Today's assaults are unique since neo-evangelicals now surrender to post-modernistic ideas of history and historical-critical ideologies that assault this vital doctrine. They seek to redefine the orthodox meaning of inerrancy. Since the signing of the Chicago Statements, troubling signs have once again appeared in recent years among many who either did not fight the battles for the inerrancy of Scripture as did the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, or who do not remember the troubling times that caused their development. The nature and definition of "inerrancy" are now being changed to include ideas of fallibility. History is forgotten. The need arises for sounding the alarm for Vital Issues in Inerrancy. Evangelical schools and churches that broke away earlier to defend inerrancy surrender now to academic prestige and scholarly fads instead of faithfulness to God's inerrant Word. The contributors pray that the Lord will raise up a new generation with the spiritual fervency of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy to uphold the inerrancy of God's Word: Isaiah 40:8 - "The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever."

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