Does the New Testament Teach Two Prophetic Gifts? -- By: F. David Farnell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 150:597 (Jan 1993)
Article: Does the New Testament Teach Two Prophetic Gifts?
Author: F. David Farnell

Does the New Testament Teach Two Prophetic Gifts?

F. David Farnell

[David Farnell is Chairman of the Department of Ministerial Studies, Southeastern Bible College, Birmingham, Alabama.]

[This is article three in the four-part series, “Is the Gift of Prophecy for Today?”]

In the second century, postapostolic Christianity faced a serious challenge from the prophetic crisis known as the “New Prophecy” (νέα προφητεία) or Montanism. This labeling of Montanism as the “New Prophecy” by its adherents shows why the early church rejected Montanism: it was “new” in that it differed markedly from the early church’s understanding of the nature of New Testament prophets and prophecy. As noted, this understanding by the early church came from the standards set by the Old Testament for the evaluation of prophets. Before being checked, Montanism spread rapidly throughout the Greco-Roman world and quickly won many adherents, so that even the church father Tertullian was swept away by its claims. Such a sharp departure from accepted biblical norms of prophecy, especially in its content and manner of expression, caused great alarm. The crisis became so acute that the church struggled for decades to quell the swelling numbers of adherents to Montanism.

Now in the 20th century, Christianity is once again facing a prophetic crisis. Its original impetus occurred in the Pentecostal and charismatic movements, which developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Recently, however, the momentum has come from the Vineyard and the Signs and Wonders movements, which have spread rapidly among churches that have held traditionally to the “cessationist” viewpoint regarding New Testament prophecy. These groups essentially argue that prophets and prophecy are active today as they were in the first-century church.

Defense of this practice of “prophecy” has recently come from

the work of Wayne A. Grudem, who is active in a Vineyard-affiliated church and is an associate professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.1 Grudem’s arguments have become a primary justification for this form of “prophecy” not only in Vineyard fellowships but also among such groups as the Signs and Wonders movement and the Kansas City Fellowship of prophets.2 Accolades for his view are coming from within and without the charismatic and Pentecostal movements, while some express hope that this work could be used as a means of fostering dialogue between cessationists and non...

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