Who Surprised Whom? The Holy Spirit or Jack Deere? -- By: Richard L. Mayhue
MSJ 5:2 (Fall 94) p. 123
Who Surprised Whom?
The Holy Spirit or Jack Deere?1
Senior Vice-President and Dean
Professor of Pastoral Ministries
Dr. Jack Deere, a former professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and a highly visible convert from the cessationist to the noncessationist position regarding miraculous acts of God through men, recounts his journey in Surprised by the Power of the Spirit. He reasons that cessationists have argued more from silence than from Scripture, have twisted Scripture, and have no one single Scripture passage that proves their point. In this brief analysis of his work, it is apparent that Deere, not cessationists, has made these interpretive errors in coming to his biblically unfounded conclusion that the miraculous acts of God have continued beyond the apostolic age—but with lesser quality and frequency.
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In three places in his volume Surprised by the Power of the Spirit,2 Dr. Jack Deere sets forth something like the following hypothetical scenario. What is your reaction to it?
If you take a new convert, who prior to his conversion knew nothing about the history of Christianity or the New Testament, and
MSJ 5:2 (Fall 94) p. 124
you lock him in a room with a Bible for a week, he will come out believing that he is a member of a body that is passionately in love with the Lord Jesus Christ and a body that consistently experiences miracles. It would take a clever theologian with no experience of the miraculous to convince this convert differently.3
At first glance and without much thought, one might agree. But for this reviewer another look at the statement quickly causes it to become an agree/disagree situation. He agrees that a new convert who is totally unknowledgeable of history, who has no experience interpreting the Bible, and who has no study tools might conclude that the church today experiences miracles like the first-century church.
But he totally disagrees, along with you too probably, that the new convert would be correct. Since when is a new convert with nothing but a Bible an authority on the correct theological analysis of a subject so complex as miracles? Further, why would the theologian have to be “experienced” in the miraculous to be credible if the Scriptures are sufficient, without recourse to experience, to articulate clear doctrine (2 Tim 3:16–17)?
This raises an even bigger question about Deere and tho...
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