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The Confession of Faith discuss Rutherford, The Gift of Prophecy, and the WCF in the Theology forums; The following is from Douglas A. Oss' contribution to the book "Are Miraculous Gifts For Today: 4 Views" [Samuel Rutherford] argued for a distinction betweeen ...

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    Rutherford, The Gift of Prophecy, and the WCF

    The following is from Douglas A. Oss' contribution to the book "Are Miraculous Gifts For Today: 4 Views"

    [Samuel Rutherford] argued for a distinction betweeen the objective external revelation inscripturated in the canon and the internal subjective revelation, which we would call "illumination." In addition, Rutherford also recognized two other subjective types of revelation: false prophecies-which are not prophecies at all-and predictive prophecy. He said he knew of men "who have foretold things to come even since the ceasing of the Canon of the word," mentioning Hus, Wycliff, and Luther as examples.

    Rutherford offered guidelines for differentiating between true and false prophecy: First, these postcanonical prophets "did tye no man to beleeve their prophecies as scriptures. Yea they never denounced Iudgement against those that beleeve not their predictions"; second, "the events reveled to Godly and sound witnesses of Christ are not contrary to the word"' and third, "they were men sound in the faith opposite to Popery, Prelacy, Socinianism, Papism, Lawlesse Enthusiasme, Antinomianisme, Arminianisme, and what else is contrary to sound doctrine. (from Rutherford's "A Survey of the Spirituall Antichrist")

    In the light of Rutherford's belief about revelation, the line "new revelations of the Spirit" [in WCF 1.6] may be understood to refer to non-canonical but actual utterances that are subordinate to and judged by Scripture, and which may not be added to the canon. Canon, not prophecy, is the issue.

    The mention of "private spirits" [in WCF 1.10] does not reject them out of hand, it merely subjects them to the authority of Scripture along with "all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men." Thus, when the WCF speaks of "those former ways of God's revealing His will unto His people now being ceased," it should not necessarily be interpreted to indicate that God no longer reveals himself in any extraordinary way but to indicate that the canon is closed and that it alone is the rule of faith and practice. At least this is how Rutherford understood it. When the Confession refers to "the direct communication which once was" and "the indirect communication which now is," is this a distinction between "revelation" and "illumination" or between canon and all other revelation? The former was committed "wholly unto writing" (Confession 1.1), but such prophecies as those given in Corinth were not all deposited in the canon-though of the Spirit, they were not of the deposit of faith. Rutherford's understanding as a framer certainly leaves open alternative interpretations of the Confession than the prevailing cessationist interpretation today. pages 168-170
    Is Oss' understanding of Rutherford's writings correct?
    If so, does that change the "prevailing cessationist interpretation" of the WCF?


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    That sounds accurate as to what Rutheford worte. See this thread from 2005.
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    Don't the Steelites believe in continuing prophecy of some sort?
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    Yes; I think at least some do; but I believe the thread is about Rutherford.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NaphtaliPress View Post
    Yes; I think at least some do; but I believe the thread is about Rutherford.
    They claim to be the true heirs of Rutherford, thus that is where they say get there ideas from...maybe I should put an smile in.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KMK View Post
    The following is from Douglas A. Oss' contribution to the book "Are Miraculous Gifts For Today: 4 Views"

    [Samuel Rutherford] argued for a distinction betweeen the objective external revelation inscripturated in the canon and the internal subjective revelation, which we would call "illumination." In addition, Rutherford also recognized two other subjective types of revelation: false prophecies-which are not prophecies at all-and predictive prophecy. He said he knew of men "who have foretold things to come even since the ceasing of the Canon of the word," mentioning Hus, Wycliff, and Luther as examples.

    Rutherford offered guidelines for differentiating between true and false prophecy: First, these postcanonical prophets "did tye no man to beleeve their prophecies as scriptures. Yea they never denounced Iudgement against those that beleeve not their predictions"; second, "the events reveled to Godly and sound witnesses of Christ are not contrary to the word"' and third, "they were men sound in the faith opposite to Popery, Prelacy, Socinianism, Papism, Lawlesse Enthusiasme, Antinomianisme, Arminianisme, and what else is contrary to sound doctrine. (from Rutherford's "A Survey of the Spirituall Antichrist")

    In the light of Rutherford's belief about revelation, the line "new revelations of the Spirit" [in WCF 1.6] may be understood to refer to non-canonical but actual utterances that are subordinate to and judged by Scripture, and which may not be added to the canon. Canon, not prophecy, is the issue.

    The mention of "private spirits" [in WCF 1.10] does not reject them out of hand, it merely subjects them to the authority of Scripture along with "all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men." Thus, when the WCF speaks of "those former ways of God's revealing His will unto His people now being ceased," it should not necessarily be interpreted to indicate that God no longer reveals himself in any extraordinary way but to indicate that the canon is closed and that it alone is the rule of faith and practice. At least this is how Rutherford understood it. When the Confession refers to "the direct communication which once was" and "the indirect communication which now is," is this a distinction between "revelation" and "illumination" or between canon and all other revelation? The former was committed "wholly unto writing" (Confession 1.1), but such prophecies as those given in Corinth were not all deposited in the canon-though of the Spirit, they were not of the deposit of faith. Rutherford's understanding as a framer certainly leaves open alternative interpretations of the Confession than the prevailing cessationist interpretation today. pages 168-170
    Is Oss' understanding of Rutherford's writings correct?
    If so, does that change the "prevailing cessationist interpretation" of the WCF?

    Right Ken, is the argument basically that new revelations of the Spirit are okay just as long as they are not added to the text of Scripture. To me this is strange; if there are new revelations, then why can't they be added to the text of Scripture?

    I believe that ideas such as this are facilitated by people not holding that the canon was closed before 70 AD. IMHO, the canon of the New Testament must have to have been completed before the Old Covenant system was finally abolished.
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    My main question is the second one. Understanding what Rutherford believed concerning prophecy, could one believe in the miraculous gift of prophecy today and still be confessional?

    I am not interested in Cessationist arguments against Oss in general but specifically his use of Rutherford to cast a different view on the meaning of WCF chapter 1 than the "prevailing" view.


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    Quote Originally Posted by KMK View Post
    My main question is the second one. Understanding what Rutherford believed concerning prophecy, could one believe in the miraculous gift of prophecy today and still be confessional?

    I am not interested in Cessationist arguments against Oss in general but specifically his use of Rutherford to cast a different view on the meaning of WCF chapter 1 than the "prevailing" view.
    No. One could not believe in the miraculous gift of prophecy today and still be confessional. The WCF is a cessationist document. Though Rutherford was quite a gifted teacher, he wasn't right about everything so one should not attempt to create a view of the Standards based on what Rutherford thought regarding prophecy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KMK View Post
    My main question is the second one. Understanding what Rutherford believed concerning prophecy, could one believe in the miraculous gift of prophecy today and still be confessional?

    I am not interested in Cessationist arguments against Oss in general but specifically his use of Rutherford to cast a different view on the meaning of WCF chapter 1 than the "prevailing" view.

    I think the Steelites would argue "yes" you could as long as you are not inscripturating your new "revelations".

    However, I tend to agree with Wayne's comments above; Rutherford held a number of things that were unbiblical - such as denying the absolute necessity of the atonement - hence we cannot impute all his opinions to the Westminster Divines per se.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Ritchie View Post
    Rutherford held a number of things that were unbiblical - such as denying the absolute necessity of the atonement[...]
    What??
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    Quote Originally Posted by wsw201 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by KMK View Post
    My main question is the second one. Understanding what Rutherford believed concerning prophecy, could one believe in the miraculous gift of prophecy today and still be confessional?

    I am not interested in Cessationist arguments against Oss in general but specifically his use of Rutherford to cast a different view on the meaning of WCF chapter 1 than the "prevailing" view.
    No. One could not believe in the miraculous gift of prophecy today and still be confessional. The WCF is a cessationist document. Though Rutherford was quite a gifted teacher, he wasn't right about everything so one should not attempt to create a view of the Standards based on what Rutherford thought regarding prophecy.
    In this section of the book, Oss is arguing against the use of the WCF as an argument for historical cessationsim. If Rutherford (and the others that Mr. Coldwell speaks of in the thread cited above) believed in the miraculous gift of prophecy, how can you state that the WCF is a 'cessationist' document? Isn't it standard practice to use the extra-confessional writings of the Divines to clarify the confession itself?

    I am not arguing, just asking for some elucidation.


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    Quote Originally Posted by CarolinaCalvinist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Ritchie View Post
    Rutherford held a number of things that were unbiblical - such as denying the absolute necessity of the atonement[...]
    What??
    versus

    Chris can probably highlight some materials on the PB to substantiate this. However, if you look at John Owen's A Dissertation on Divine Justice, in volume 10 of his works, he takes issue with Rutherford and William Twisse for teaching that God could (not did) have devised some other means for the redemption of sinners other than the death of Christ. This is nonsense, because how could God's justice be satisfied apart from Christ's atoning work? The answer, as Owen demonstrates, is that it could not; and so due, to the death of Christ, God saves sinners in a manner consistent with His justice. Hence Paul could say that God is "just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" (Rom. 3:26).
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    Quote Originally Posted by KMK View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by wsw201 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by KMK View Post
    My main question is the second one. Understanding what Rutherford believed concerning prophecy, could one believe in the miraculous gift of prophecy today and still be confessional?

    I am not interested in Cessationist arguments against Oss in general but specifically his use of Rutherford to cast a different view on the meaning of WCF chapter 1 than the "prevailing" view.
    No. One could not believe in the miraculous gift of prophecy today and still be confessional. The WCF is a cessationist document. Though Rutherford was quite a gifted teacher, he wasn't right about everything so one should not attempt to create a view of the Standards based on what Rutherford thought regarding prophecy.
    In this section of the book, Oss is arguing against the use of the WCF as an argument for historical cessationsim. If Rutherford (and the others that Mr. Coldwell speaks of in the thread cited above) believed in the miraculous gift of prophecy, how can you state that the WCF is a 'cessationist' document? Isn't it standard practice to use the extra-confessional writings of the Divines to clarify the confession itself?

    I am not arguing, just asking for some elucidation.
    One needs to be careful in using the various writings of those who were at the Assembly. No doubt that Rutherford, as well as the other Scotish attendees, were very influential, but the Standards are a consensus document. Based on the plain reading of Chapter 1.1, it would appear that the concensus was that ongoing prophecy had ended with the last Apostle. This has also been the position of the Church for quite awhile now.

    Rutherford was also a supralapsarian, but I have never heard anyone argue that the Standards promote a supralapsarian view. In fact the Standards promote an infralapsarian view.
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    It was not just Rutherford's view, and while they may have said more about it (maybe the problem is they said to much?), I think it is also found in English Puritanism; maybe some one can document that. My pov is that this was a dearly held Scottish position and that if the Scottish Kirk thought the view was precluded by the WCF, they would have had something to say about it. It was as far as I know not officially debated at the Assembly, though the fact Gillespie addresses it as a topic in his Miscellany, made up of what one has theorized as study papers, may indicate some discussion of it amongst divines took place, or it at least was a topic that occurred to him while at the Assembly (which, and I may be wrong, I believe is where most of the papers in the Miscellany were written).
    Last edited by NaphtaliPress; 12-04-2007 at 01:12 PM. Reason: sp.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NaphtaliPress View Post
    It was not just Rutherford's view, and while they may have said more about it (maybe the problem is they said to much?), I think it is also found in English Puritanism; maybe some one can document that. My pov is that this was a dearly held Scottish position and that if the Scottish Kirk thought the view was precluded by the WCF, they would have had something to say about it. It was as far as I know not officially debated at the Assembly, though the fact Gillespie addresses it as a topic in his Miscellany, made up of what one has theorized as study papers, may indicate some discussion of it amongst divines took place, or it at least was a topic that occurred to him while at the Assembly (which, and I may be wrong, I believe is where most of the papers in the Miscellany were written).
    Chris: question, but was it done by a majority vote for the WCF? In an instance like this, there had to have been talks even if not recorded since Rutherford and the scots were so prevalient in other areas, when they "lost" their opinion, was it settled under contention?

    Supralapsarianism for instance, Twisse was hardcore, you mentioned Rutherford, and there were many others. Why was there such a spirit of compramise for the document, yet their private writings are against what they actually signed. Am I missing something or can you or anyone else enlighten me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amazing Grace View Post
    ...but was it done by a majority vote for the WCF? In an instance like this, there had to have been talks even if not recorded since Rutherford and the scots were so prevalient in other areas, when they "lost" their opinion, was it settled under contention?

    Supralapsarianism for instance, Twisse was hardcore, you mentioned Rutherford, and there were many others. Why was there such a spirit of compramise for the document, yet their private writings are against what they actually signed. Am I missing something or can you or anyone else enlighten me.
    No dissenting votes were noted; and again, if this had been understood as disavowing this view, it would have caused some discussion in Scotland for sure. I do not think Rutherford and Gillespie who both wrote on this topic I think during the Assembly (Gillespie in his Miscellany papers and Rutherford's Spiritual Antichrist was published in November 1647 according to Thomson's copy; he crossing out the 8 of 1648 in his copy, which is strange but I suppose Thomson would know what year he bought his copy even though the book stated 1648), believed their view was crossway with WCF 1.1. I do note that it was at the very beginning of the debate on chapter one that the following was decided by the assmbly: "That Mr Reynolds, <Mr Herle, Mr Newcomen> be desired to take care of the wording of the Confession of faith as it is voted in the Assemby [fo. 78v] <from time to time and to report to the Assembly when> they thinke fit ther should be any alteration in the words. They are first to <consult with> the commissioners from the church of Scotland <or one of them> before they report to the Assembly." VanDixhoorn, volume 6, p. 145. Given how highly involved the Scots were in any word changes, I think if the Scots had seen this view as forbidden doctrinally they would have made as big a stink about this as they did over the Directory and the use of a table in communion, and we'd have something to read about as we do in that case.
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    I think that the confessional language is broad enough to be understood as allowing for Rutherford's views. Here is one reformed church's session's detailed defense of why those views are consistent with the Confession: A Reformation Discussion of Extraordinary Predictive Prophecy Subsequent to the Closing of the Canon of Scripture.

    I know Richard Baxter has a section in his Christian Directory on how to distiniguish true from false prophecy. He takes the same approach as Rutherford on this. Seems like this view may have been common.
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    Mr. Coldwell, do you still hold to this view from you post in that thread from 2005?

    While not all the Scots expressed themselves as carefully on this subject, I believe putting their "prophecies" under the heading of extraordinary providences is the best solution.
    If so, then perhaps the disagreement is a matter of semantics? Mr. Wylie believes the WCF is a 'cessationist document'. But the Scots did not seem to hold to the same kind of 'cessationism' that Mr. Wylie holds to. Could we say the the WCF is cessationist in that it does not agree with a 'miraculous gift' of prophecy, but leaves room for 'extraordinary providential illumination' or something like that?



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    Right Ken, is the argument basically that new revelations of the Spirit are okay just as long as they are not added to the text of Scripture. To me this is strange; if there are new revelations, then why can't they be added to the text of Scripture?
    The test for canonization is broader than whether something is inspired. A lot of special revelation was not inscripturated. The Holy Spirit preserved what he willed for the Church. Canonical revelation is that body of revelation that was meant for the Church throughout time. With other special revelation, God had more specific purposes aside from edifying the entire Church. Think of it as the difference between a father's letter to his entire family and a father's letter to his daughter. The first letter is for a broader audience and the second is for only one person.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KMK View Post
    Mr. Coldwell, do you still hold to this view from you post in that thread from 2005?

    While not all the Scots expressed themselves as carefully on this subject, I believe putting their "prophecies" under the heading of extraordinary providences is the best solution.
    If so, then perhaps the disagreement is a matter of semantics? Mr. Wylie believes the WCF is a 'cessationist document'. But the Scots did not seem to hold to the same kind of 'cessationism' that Mr. Wylie holds to. Could we say the the WCF is cessationist in that it does not agree with a 'miraculous gift' of prophecy, but leaves room for 'extraordinary providential illumination' or something like that?

    While this is not what Wayne means, it is correct to say that the WCF is cessasionist in terms of the canon.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott View Post
    I think that the confessional language is broad enough to be understood as allowing for Rutherford's views. Here is one reformed church's session's detailed defense of why those views are consistent with the Confession: A Reformation Discussion of Extraordinary Predictive Prophecy Subsequent to the Closing of the Canon of Scripture.

    I know Richard Baxter has a section in his Christian Directory on how to distiniguish true from false prophecy. He takes the same approach as Rutherford on this. Seems like this view may have been common.
    Mr. Roberts, this quote is from a post you made in that thread from 2005:

    I am not sure how you are defining &quot;cessastionist.&quot; If by that you mean that there is no furthe revelation of gospel truths, I agree.

    If you mean that God will not speak in special revelation (prophecy, speaking, or otherwise) or perform miracles related to other matters until the second coming, then no.

    Many of the major Reformers would not have been cessasionists according to the latter definition. Indeed, the possibility of predictive prophecy was built into some Reformation ecclesiastical documents, such as the Church of Scotland's Second Book of Discipline. There is a good paper online which discusses this as well as prophecies of Luther, Knox and others and the approval of them by Gillespie, Rutherford, et al.
    A Reformation Discussion of Extraordinary Predictive Prophecy Subsequent to the Closing of the Canon of Scripture
    http://www.ecn.ab.ca/prce/books/prophecy/prophecy.htm
    However, the link does not seem to work. Is it the same document?


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    Assuming Rutherford's view of prohecy that does not need to be apart of Scripture, then how do we deal with the word of knowledge and word of wisdom crowd? They make "prophetic" predictions all the time. Should they be condemned or exalted?

    They argue that what they receive from God is small "p" prophecy versus big "P" prophecy and does not need to be canonized. I believe Wayne Grudem is a proponent of this type of prophecy especially when he was an apologist for the Vineyard.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wsw201 View Post
    Assuming Rutherford's view of prophecy that does not need to be apart of Scripture, then how do we deal with the word of knowledge and word of wisdom crowd? They make "prophetic" predictions all the time. Should they be condemned or exalted?

    They argue that what they receive from God is small "p" prophecy versus big "P" prophecy and does not need to be canonized. I believe Wayne Grudem is a proponent of this type of prophecy especially when he was an apologist for the Vineyard.


    Very well said. Lets just say, for instance, that a young man in our congregation said to a girl "the Lord told me that I am to marry you" - if he claims that it is a prophetic utterance, and the congregation believes in continuing prophecy, then is the girl sinning if she refuses to marry him?

    Daniel
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    Quote Originally Posted by KMK View Post
    Mr. Coldwell, do you still hold to this view from you post in that thread from 2005?

    While not all the Scots expressed themselves as carefully on this subject, I believe putting their "prophecies" under the heading of extraordinary providences is the best solution.
    If so, then perhaps the disagreement is a matter of semantics? Mr. Wylie believes the WCF is a 'cessationist document'. But the Scots did not seem to hold to the same kind of 'cessationism' that Mr. Wylie holds to. Could we say the the WCF is cessationist in that it does not agree with a 'miraculous gift' of prophecy, but leaves room for 'extraordinary providential illumination' or something like that?

    No; that is where I'm comfortable still. I think that is a resolution of sorts without simply throwing overboard the Presbyterians and Puritans that say something to the effect this phenomena is valid. I'm not sure their theological explanations are correct; but I'm more concerned about labeling all such recorded instances as lies, etc.
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    Rutherford attempts to distinguish his position from the Familists and such that claimed revelations. I'm not sure the text is totally clean but see the link for his division of the types of prophecy and his handling of them.
    Quote Originally Posted by wsw201 View Post
    Assuming Rutherford's view of prohecy that does not need to be apart of Scripture, then how do we deal with the word of knowledge and word of wisdom crowd? They make "prophetic" predictions all the time. Should they be condemned or exalted?

    They argue that what they receive from God is small "p" prophecy versus big "P" prophecy and does not need to be canonized. I believe Wayne Grudem is a proponent of this type of prophecy especially when he was an apologist for the Vineyard.
    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Ritchie View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by wsw201 View Post
    Assuming Rutherford's view of prophecy that does not need to be apart of Scripture, then how do we deal with the word of knowledge and word of wisdom crowd? They make "prophetic" predictions all the time. Should they be condemned or exalted?

    They argue that what they receive from God is small "p" prophecy versus big "P" prophecy and does not need to be canonized. I believe Wayne Grudem is a proponent of this type of prophecy especially when he was an apologist for the Vineyard.


    Very well said. Lets just say, for instance, that a young man in our congregation said to a girl "the Lord told me that I am to marry you" - if he claims that it is a prophetic utterance, and the congregation believes in continuing prophecy, then is the girl sinning if she refuses to marry him?

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    Quote Originally Posted by wsw201 View Post
    Assuming Rutherford's view of prohecy that does not need to be apart of Scripture, then how do we deal with the word of knowledge and word of wisdom crowd? They make "prophetic" predictions all the time. Should they be condemned or exalted?

    They argue that what they receive from God is small "p" prophecy versus big "P" prophecy and does not need to be canonized. I believe Wayne Grudem is a proponent of this type of prophecy especially when he was an apologist for the Vineyard.
    I think you are right about Grudem and this seems to be a fair picture of Oss' position. However, I am not looking for another discussion on cessationism in general but the original intent behind the WCF. The cessationist argument does not stand or fall on the WCF. Even if room can be made for Rutherford and Gillespie's view of prophecy within Chapter 1, that does not mean that the continuationist is correct.

    My concern is that of Mr. Coldwell in that we don't read the WCF in such a way that misrepresents the Divines' intent.


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    I appreciate and support Chris Coldwell's position that this subject is best discussed under extraordinary providence, or perhaps, because that phrase is usually associated with miracles, it would be best to call it unusual providence. Note especially the statement from Robert Blair in the linked thread concerning times of suffering, which are times when the Lord will often undertake for His people in unusual ways.

    There is a fundamental problem with the way modern folk interpret the language of men like Rutherford. Their statements are not understood within the basic theological framework they worked with. Now Rutherford held some fairly concrete ideas on the subjects of Scripture and assurance. Most moderns do not hold Rutherford's doctrine of immediate inspiration, but follow men like Warfield and adopt a more organic approach. So it comes about that when Rutherford speaks of the possibility of continuing revelation, the modern mind naturally assumes he is referring to the same process which was necessary for the production of the Scriptures, and subsequently concludes that he did not hold a cessationist position. Again, Rutherford held that assurance requires us to know something infallibly which is not specifically stated in Scripture, namely, our personal interest in Christ. Most moderns cannot appreciate the nuances of his position here, and so it is wrongly concluded that Rutherford believed the Spirit immediately witnesses truth to the heart of the elect.

    The fact is that Rutherford held there are different kinds of revelation, and he articulated this in the very passage men quote to show he was not cessationist. Now, if the revelation which continues is different from the revelation which produced Scripture, and the revelation which produced Scripture is regarded as having ceased, it should be obvious to clear thinking people that Rutherford held to the position that special revelation has ceased. What continues is not the special revelation which produced Scripture, but another kind of revelation altogether. Given this fact, he cannot be used as an example of a non-cessationist advocate influencing the formation of the Westminster Standards.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wsw201 View Post
    Assuming Rutherford's view of prohecy that does not need to be apart of Scripture, then how do we deal with the word of knowledge and word of wisdom crowd? They make "prophetic" predictions all the time. Should they be condemned or exalted?

    They argue that what they receive from God is small "p" prophecy versus big "P" prophecy and does not need to be canonized. I believe Wayne Grudem is a proponent of this type of prophecy especially when he was an apologist for the Vineyard.
    Baxter has a section on how to evaluate claims of others to prophecy. Do you have his Christian Directory? I can try to find the section and direct you to it, but I don't want to lay it all out here (time constraints, etc.).
    Scott Roberts
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    Very well said. Lets just say, for instance, that a young man in our congregation said to a girl "the Lord told me that I am to marry you" - if he claims that it is a prophetic utterance, and the congregation believes in continuing prophecy, then is the girl sinning if she refuses to marry him?
    FWIW, Rutherford, Baxter, and others of this school of thought taught that these private prophecies were not binding on the consciences of others. They also provided direction on how to evaluate claims to prophecy. If you have Baxter's Christian Directory I will try and find the section and point you to such Puritan guidance.

    How would someone prior to the closing of the canon dealt with this issue? The methods are really the same.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Ritchie View Post
    Chris can probably highlight some materials on the PB to substantiate this. However, if you look at John Owen's A Dissertation on Divine Justice, in volume 10 of his works, he takes issue with Rutherford and William Twisse for teaching that God could (not did) have devised some other means for the redemption of sinners other than the death of Christ. This is nonsense, because how could God's justice be satisfied apart from Christ's atoning work? The answer, as Owen demonstrates, is that it could not; and so due, to the death of Christ, God saves sinners in a manner consistent with His justice. Hence Paul could say that God is "just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" (Rom. 3:26).
    I wasn't going to reply to this since it's a bit off topic; but it would seem a shame to let go an opportunity to delve into a subject which touches on the heart of reformed thought.

    Owen's view is (1.) necessitarian, and (2.) contradictory to his own voluntarist view of the divine decree. In Death of Death he forcibly argues that God's attributes are not constrained to act in this or that manner towards the creature since all the acts of God are determined according to the freedom of His will. In the treatise on justice he says the contrary.

    On four accounts the Larger Catechism (71) says justification is an act of God's free grace. (1.) In accepting the satisfaction from a surety. (2.) In providing the surety. (3.) In imputing the righteousness of the surety to believers. (4.) In giving faith as the means to receive this righteousness. Justice demanded satisfaction from the soul that sinned. If justice must be inflexibly satisfied there could be no possibility of substitution. It is better to consider atonement as the means which God freely determined to use for the display of the glory and harmony of His perfections in the salvation of sinners, rather than create a doctrine which might assist one aspect of reformed thought but which essentially undermines the reformed system because it exhibits God as enslaved to the principles of "nature."
    Yours sincerely,
    Rev. Matthew Winzer
    Australian Free Church,
    Victoria, Australia

    "Illum oportet crescere me autem minui."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by wsw201 View Post
    Assuming Rutherford's view of prohecy that does not need to be apart of Scripture, then how do we deal with the word of knowledge and word of wisdom crowd? They make "prophetic" predictions all the time. Should they be condemned or exalted?

    They argue that what they receive from God is small "p" prophecy versus big "P" prophecy and does not need to be canonized. I believe Wayne Grudem is a proponent of this type of prophecy especially when he was an apologist for the Vineyard.
    Baxter has a section on how to evaluate claims of others to prophecy. Do you have his Christian Directory? I can try to find the section and direct you to it, but I don't want to lay it all out here (time constraints, etc.).
    Is the Christian Directory available online?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by wsw201 View Post
    Assuming Rutherford's view of prohecy that does not need to be apart of Scripture, then how do we deal with the word of knowledge and word of wisdom crowd? They make "prophetic" predictions all the time. Should they be condemned or exalted?

    They argue that what they receive from God is small "p" prophecy versus big "P" prophecy and does not need to be canonized. I believe Wayne Grudem is a proponent of this type of prophecy especially when he was an apologist for the Vineyard.
    Baxter has a section on how to evaluate claims of others to prophecy. Do you have his Christian Directory? I can try to find the section and direct you to it, but I don't want to lay it all out here (time constraints, etc.).
    Sorry Scott, I don't have a copy of Baxter's Christian Directory.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KMK View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by wsw201 View Post
    Assuming Rutherford's view of prohecy that does not need to be apart of Scripture, then how do we deal with the word of knowledge and word of wisdom crowd? They make "prophetic" predictions all the time. Should they be condemned or exalted?

    They argue that what they receive from God is small "p" prophecy versus big "P" prophecy and does not need to be canonized. I believe Wayne Grudem is a proponent of this type of prophecy especially when he was an apologist for the Vineyard.
    Baxter has a section on how to evaluate claims of others to prophecy. Do you have his Christian Directory? I can try to find the section and direct you to it, but I don't want to lay it all out here (time constraints, etc.).
    Is the Christian Directory available online?
    Unfortunately, only bits and pieces are available online. It is worth getting, though.
    Scott Roberts
    Ruling Elder, Lakeside Presbyterian Church (PCA)
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    Quote Originally Posted by armourbearer View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Ritchie View Post
    Chris can probably highlight some materials on the PB to substantiate this. However, if you look at John Owen's A Dissertation on Divine Justice, in volume 10 of his works, he takes issue with Rutherford and William Twisse for teaching that God could (not did) have devised some other means for the redemption of sinners other than the death of Christ. This is nonsense, because how could God's justice be satisfied apart from Christ's atoning work? The answer, as Owen demonstrates, is that it could not; and so due, to the death of Christ, God saves sinners in a manner consistent with His justice. Hence Paul could say that God is "just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" (Rom. 3:26).
    I wasn't going to reply to this since it's a bit off topic; but it would seem a shame to let go an opportunity to delve into a subject which touches on the heart of reformed thought.

    Owen's view is (1.) necessitarian, and (2.) contradictory to his own voluntarist view of the divine decree. In Death of Death he forcibly argues that God's attributes are not constrained to act in this or that manner towards the creature since all the acts of God are determined according to the freedom of His will. In the treatise on justice he says the contrary.

    On four accounts the Larger Catechism (71) says justification is an act of God's free grace. (1.) In accepting the satisfaction from a surety. (2.) In providing the surety. (3.) In imputing the righteousness of the surety to believers. (4.) In giving faith as the means to receive this righteousness. Justice demanded satisfaction from the soul that sinned. If justice must be inflexibly satisfied there could be no possibility of substitution. It is better to consider atonement as the means which God freely determined to use for the display of the glory and harmony of His perfections in the salvation of sinners, rather than create a doctrine which might assist one aspect of reformed thought but which essentially undermines the reformed system because it exhibits God as enslaved to the principles of "nature."
    I don't think that those of us in favour of the the absolute necessity of the atonement would say God is enslaved to "nature", but that He saves sinners in a manner consistent with His attributes. Rutherford's view means that God would have to be somebody else; as He could have saved sinners while His justice remained unsatisfied. Hence, He would not be a "just God and Saviour".
    Daniel
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    In re-reading the paper from the PRCE, it identified 4 categories that Rutherford used regarding prophecies:

    (1) Prophetical revelation;
    (2) Revelation special to the elect only;
    (3) Revelation of some facts peculiar to godly men;
    (4) False and satanical revelation.
    Category 1 is the type of prophecy that the Apostles and Prophets had, ie; concanical special revelation. It should be noted that Rutherford and Gillespie did believe that prophecies of this type has ceased so there would not have been any problem with the Scotish delegation regarding Chapter 1.1 of the WCF.

    Category 2, IMHO, represents illumination by God the Holy Spirit. The paper notes that this corresponds with Chapter 18.2 regarding assurance in that the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God and how the Spirit will illuminate the believer as to the Truth of Scripture as well.

    Category 3 & 4 have to do with predictions made by Godly men and ungodly men. IMHO, this is a stretch in categorizing these as prophecies. These predictions may be categorized as a "foretelling" but certainly not in the biblical sense, ie; immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The paper notes that none of the Godly men claimed inspiration from the Holy Spirit or that their predictions needed to be believed since they were not speaking on behalf of God. FWIW, a broken clock is right at least twice a day.

    It appears that Rutherford does not consider categories 2, 3 & 4 as prophecies as Scripture uses the term Prophecy.

    It does appear that the Church of Scotland did follow Rutherford and Gillispie in that they were not willing to say that God could not raise up a Prophet during extra-ordinary times if He wanted to. They were not willing to limit God.

    Going back to the OP, some of the things Oss has mentioned are accurate as to what Rutherford believed, but his conclusion that "Rutherford's understanding as a framer certainly leaves open alternative interpretations of the Confession than the prevailing cessationist interpretation today." is wrong. The Standards do represent a cessationist interpretation and if Oss is trying make allowances for the Word of Wisdom / Word of Knowledge crowd as Grudem does, he is falling way short.

    HERE is a link to the OPC's position paper on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. If I remember right there was a judicial case in the PCA regarding spiritual gifts. Unfortunately I can't find anything on the PCA web site about it.
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    That sounds like a good summary Wayne. The text of Rutherford in context is in the 2005 thread I linked to, but I can't promise it is typo free.
    Cessationist or no? Why?#2
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    Quote Originally Posted by wsw201 View Post
    In re-reading the paper from the PRCE, it identified 4 categories that Rutherford used regarding prophecies:

    (1) Prophetical revelation;
    (2) Revelation special to the elect only;
    (3) Revelation of some facts peculiar to godly men;
    (4) False and satanical revelation.
    Category 1 is the type of prophecy that the Apostles and Prophets had, ie; concanical special revelation. It should be noted that Rutherford and Gillespie did believe that prophecies of this type has ceased so there would not have been any problem with the Scotish delegation regarding Chapter 1.1 of the WCF.

    Category 2, IMHO, represents illumination by God the Holy Spirit. The paper notes that this corresponds with Chapter 18.2 regarding assurance in that the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God and how the Spirit will illuminate the believer as to the Truth of Scripture as well.

    Category 3 & 4 have to do with predictions made by Godly men and ungodly men. IMHO, this is a stretch in categorizing these as prophecies. These predictions may be categorized as a "foretelling" but certainly not in the biblical sense, ie; immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The paper notes that none of the Godly men claimed inspiration from the Holy Spirit or that their predictions needed to be believed since they were not speaking on behalf of God. FWIW, a broken clock is right at least twice a day.

    It appears that Rutherford does not consider categories 2, 3 & 4 as prophecies as Scripture uses the term Prophecy.

    It does appear that the Church of Scotland did follow Rutherford and Gillispie in that they were not willing to say that God could not raise up a Prophet during extra-ordinary times if He wanted to. They were not willing to limit God.

    Going back to the OP, some of the things Oss has mentioned are accurate as to what Rutherford believed, but his conclusion that "Rutherford's understanding as a framer certainly leaves open alternative interpretations of the Confession than the prevailing cessationist interpretation today." is wrong. The Standards do represent a cessationist interpretation and if Oss is trying make allowances for the Word of Wisdom / Word of Knowledge crowd as Grudem does, he is falling way short.
    Oss' words are in the context of a rebuttal of the argument that church history is decisively on the cessationist's side. To be fair to Oss, I think his main thrust is that given the beliefs of the Scots, the WCF is not the best weapon in the cessationist's arsenal. He seems to say that those cessationists who use the WCF as part of their argument are going beyond the original intent of the framers.


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    Quote Originally Posted by KMK View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by wsw201 View Post
    Assuming Rutherford's view of prohecy that does not need to be apart of Scripture, then how do we deal with the word of knowledge and word of wisdom crowd? They make "prophetic" predictions all the time. Should they be condemned or exalted?

    They argue that what they receive from God is small "p" prophecy versus big "P" prophecy and does not need to be canonized. I believe Wayne Grudem is a proponent of this type of prophecy especially when he was an apologist for the Vineyard.
    Baxter has a section on how to evaluate claims of others to prophecy. Do you have his Christian Directory? I can try to find the section and direct you to it, but I don't want to lay it all out here (time constraints, etc.).
    Is the Christian Directory available online?
    Sure, it's available online here.
    Andrew

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    Quote Originally Posted by VirginiaHuguenot View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by KMK View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott View Post
    Baxter has a section on how to evaluate claims of others to prophecy. Do you have his Christian Directory? I can try to find the section and direct you to it, but I don't want to lay it all out here (time constraints, etc.).
    Is the Christian Directory available online?
    Sure, it's available online here.
    Hooray for Andrew!

    Can you now point us to the chapter to which you are referring, Scott?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Ritchie View Post
    I don't think that those of us in favour of the the absolute necessity of the atonement would say God is enslaved to "nature", but that He saves sinners in a manner consistent with His attributes. Rutherford's view means that God would have to be somebody else; as He could have saved sinners while His justice remained unsatisfied. Hence, He would not be a "just God and Saviour".
    "Absolute necessity" means God could not have done it any other way. That makes Him bound to one course of action in order to produce a specified outcome. This is not in accord with the fundamental concept of reformed thought -- the freedom of God. "Decretal necessity" as espoused by earlier reformed thought means that God decreed what served most for His glory. Given that fact, it can hardly be claimed that Rutherford's view makes God somebody else. It lets God be God -- acting how He chooses, not bound by a second God called "nature."
    Yours sincerely,
    Rev. Matthew Winzer
    Australian Free Church,
    Victoria, Australia

    "Illum oportet crescere me autem minui."
    1 member(s) found this post helpful.

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