The Gift of Prophecy and Modern Revivals -- By: David Oldham

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 05:1 (Winter 1996)
Article: The Gift of Prophecy and Modern Revivals
Author: David Oldham

The Gift of Prophecy and Modern Revivals

David Oldham

Claimants to modern revival blessings abound. Recent movements, often historical developments of earlier ones, indicate that new theologies of the Spirit continue to develop in modern evangelicalism. One such movement seeks to build upon recent exegetical studies regarding the gift of prophecy. These new revivalistic movements are increasingly building their practice upon the teaching of Dr. Wayne Grudem, a distinguished professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois. In this article we shall consider Grudem’s teaching with regard to the gift of prophecy, seeking to understand if his conclusions are faithful to the doctrine of the New Testament.

When Wayne Grudem published his doctoral thesis in 1982, he penned words that not only expressed a serious concern, but may well prove to be an accurate assessment of the future of the Third Wave prophetic movement, 1 especially that of John Wimber’s Vineyard and the Kansas City Fellowship:

If we assume for a moment that this study is correct in seeing two types of NT prophecy, the one thought to have a divine authority of actual words, and the other only thought to have a [divine] authority of general content, it must still be admitted that such a distinction between types of authority is a fine one, and one which might easily be blurred or forgotten. It would eventually be very easy for more and more Christian prophets, whether for good or ill motives, to begin to claim not only that they had received “revelation” from God or Christ, but also that they spoke with a divine authority of actual words. This was in fact probably what happened, at least in Montanism, and probably in many other cases as well—a failure on the part of the church itself to distinguish between these two types of prophecy might have been the cause of a total loss of prophecy in the church. 2

To many observers this distinction between the “two types of prophecy” not only is “a fine one,” but also one that indeed has become blurred. To be sure, Grudem has often cautioned contemporary prophets not to claim that they are speaking the very words of God but to preface their words with some sort of introduction that shows that they are not addressing people with the same authority as the Old Testament prophets did. 3 But there is certainly validity to the criticism that those who claim to have a prophetic ministry do not appear to be making that clear disassociation. ...

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