Ongoing prophecy (fore-telling) and the Scottish Covenanters

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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Self Ethics | Christian Visionaries

Does prophecy in the sense of fore-telling still exist? Can men have prophetic dreams during times of trial for the Church? Is this part of what Acts 2 speaks of in reference to Joel's prophecy? Are we able to separate prophecy into two parts - fore-telling and forth-telling - and say one has expired while the other still is ongoing? What are we to make of the reports by the Scottish Covenanters (good presbyterians) like Rutherford, Alexandar Peden and John Wishart who seem to predict the future through dreams, it is said? Have you ever heard a prophecy or a credible report of one?

“There is a revelation of some particular men, who have foretold things to come, even since the ceasing of the Canon of the Word, as John Husse [John Hus], Wickeliefe [Wycliffe], Luther, have foretold things to come and they certainly fell out, and in our nation of Scotland, M. George Wishart foretold that Cardinal Beaton should not come out alive at the Gates of the Castle of St. Andrews, but that he should die a shameful death, and he was hanged over the window that he did look out at, when he saw the man of God burnt, Knox prophesied of the hanging of the Lord of Grange, M. Ioh. Davidson uttered prophecies, known to many of the kingdome, diverse Holy and mortified preachers in England have done the like… [Samuel Rutherford. A Survey Of The Spiritual Antichrist. Opening the Secrets Of Familisme and Antinomianisme in the Antichrist Doctrine of John Saltmarsh… (London: no pub., 1648), 42. The reference to M. Ioh.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
I am curious. When did cessationism become an official doctrine of the reformed? Or is it official?
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
As I understand it, we would say that, ordinarily, "prophecy" is forth-telling in light of the completed revelation of Scripture. It might broadly include exhortation, proclaiming from the Word of God.

God can and does use extraordinary means, i.e. miracles, but they are not ordinary means of grace, certainly not an ordinary way by which God communicates His truth to people now that His Word has been fully revealed.

We would not want to teach reliance on something other than the Word, and the ordinary means of grace, for the revealed truth of God even though God certainly may do miracles.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
So Scott, you are affirming that predictive prophesying through dreams and visions still may occur?

Also, do you see Acts 2, Peter's reference to Joel's prophecy being fulfilled (of old mean dreaming dream..visions, etc) as ongoingly applicable in our day, i.e., do dreams and visions still occur sometimes?
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
People like Alexander Peden and others occasionally made prophecies but the office of prophet was never revived or claimed by them.

Does God occasionally give prophetic vision? He can do in unusual and dangerous circumstances. I don't know whether he does, though some of the accounts of Peden and others sound genuine.

But it should never be placed alongside God's Word written, the office of prophet is over, it should be tested by God's Word, and in these post-apostolic times it should be treated with sceptism, suspiscion and a large dose of salt.
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
We speak of callings. Called to the ministry, called to a church, called to the mission field. Led to marry a certain person, led to take a certain job, led to do something.

We all know how it feels.....more than me deciding which meal to buy at the drive through. It is stronger and more powerful than just our minds choosing, we are aware of the Holy Spirit and the will of God.

It isn't canon- maybe our ambitions or desires are interfering.

That is how I see this sort of thing. God still "speaks" as it were, when He calls and leads and guides, and far less frequently it could be those extraordinary means like a " word" or a dream. Charismatics want them every day or every Sunday, and have opened themselves up to every sort of deception in elevating the subjective over the objective word. But to negate them entirely is also wrong, and the early presbyterians and Covenanters knew that.

Have you ever heard a prophecy or a credible report of one? Yes, but last time I described something along this line I got temporarily banned for advocating an unconfessional position :) so I think I'll stick to Rutherford today.
 

SemperEruditio

Puritan Board Junior
Hebrews 1:1-2
1 Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. 2 In these last days, He has spoken to us by [His] Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things and through whom He made the universe.
 

ericfromcowtown

Puritan Board Sophomore
People like Alexander Peden and others occasionally made prophecies but the office of prophet was never revived or claimed by them.

Does God occasionally give prophetic vision? He can do in unusual and dangerous circumstances. I don't know whether he does, though some of the accounts of Peden and others sound genuine.

But it should never be placed alongside God's Word written, the office of prophet is over, it should be tested by God's Word, and in these post-apostolic times it should be treated with sceptism, suspiscion and a large dose of salt.

This is where I have difficulty. If the office of prophet is over, then new prophesy (fore-telling) is over. If legitimate prophesy continues, and that prophesy is from God, then it should be placed alongside God's written Word. I side with the former.
 
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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
It appears that a great number of Puritans.Covenanters believed in miracles and prophecies, and even Prophets (if an extraordinary time demanded it, per the second Book of Church Discipline in Scotland).

Do you believe that prophesying (fore-telling) is Scripture-quality revelation?

Certainly the Covenanters could not have, or else they would have been at odds with the WCF. Certainly they would not have wanted their dreams inscriptured alongside the NT.

Therefore, how is it possible to receive a prophecy and NOT have it considered to be Scripture-Quality Revelation?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I saw a draft and looked at it but that was a few years ago; I don't have the book. But, it would seem to be "the" work to get since it is directed at the specific topic and is book length.


Have you read the Milne book or know where to find it cheap - sounds like a fascinating read! Have you read it and do you have any reviews?
 

Wayne

Tempus faciendi, Domine.
Would anyone here care to reflect on my admittedly unexamined thesis that the supposed "prophecies" of Alexander Peden, as one example, were not "foretellings", but were instead keen, finely tuned readings of Providence?
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
I was thinking of the Joel passage as I read the section of G Vos' Biblical Theology on the prophets -- he demonstrates that the prophets enjoyed a special intimacy with God. I wondered (my thought) if the Joel passage perhaps speaks of believers from the day of Pentecost onward, since we enjoy the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who illumines the scriptures for us. We would not have prophesy in the sense of the enlarging of revelation but of the illumination of the revelation completed in the Bible.

Also, it's important to keep the place of prophecy in mind: it was given for the whole church, whether for the giving of revelation or for the interceding at a particular point in history (such as Daniel interpreting dreams). I just don't think it would be consistent for an individual to prophesy for personal or local purposes.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
I think we should be careful to distinguish between a "thus sayeth the Lord" foretelling and a God-given sense of intuition.

Intuition is that faculty granted to us by God that can allow us to anticipate an event based upon observations and experience, even if we don't recall all of those observations and experience consciously.

For example, a person may notice another person's behavior and circumstances, and come to a sense that something will happen to him. (An obvious case is watching a reckless driver pass cars with abandon while knowing that the next curve is icy at that time of day). It's an intuitive sense, and it can be eerie when it comes about, but it isn't a direct revelation from God.

Some folks are very sensitive to this sort of understanding. But it comes from sensing the present and extrapolating forward, and is therefore empirical instead of a direct revelation.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
And they wouldn't have it any other way. Robert Blair who experienced this several times personally (predictions) wrote:
"If any of my relations, reading these things, shall stumble, that both now and heretofore I have mentioned what hath been revealed to me of events to come, seeing revelations are now ceased, and we are to stick close to the revealed will of God in the Scriptures, for their satisfaction I answer as follows: That if an angel from heaven should reveal anything contrary to the Scriptures, or offer to add anything to that perfect rule of faith and manners, he ought to be accursed, and much more if any man on earth should offer to do the same. This accursed way of revelation we leave to Papists and other sectaries. But, in the meantime, it ought not to be denied that the Lord is pleased sometimes, to his servants, especially in a suffering condition, to reveal some events concerning themselves and that part of the Church of God wherein they live; innumberable examples whereof might be produced, and not a few within this same land; as to the blessed martyr Wishart, Mr. Knox, Mr. Davidson, Mr. Welsh, and Mr. Patrick Simson of Stirling. This I write under protestation that I compare not myself with these I have now mentioned."
Regardless of whom has engaged, or is alleged to have engaged in any types of predictions, etc. I'm not inclined to give any weight to it, for I trust in the Scriptures alone. It seems that, if these things with the Covenanters, etc. did occur, that's no problem, but don't expect me to be bound by or convinced by them since they are not by the appointed means God has given. Just my :2cents:. I've had "inclinations" before concerning something happening and it turns out it did happening. But these are things that may be a preparation for me and they really have no place in other people's business. I've had other times that I've "sensed" something and it turns out it was a moving of my small intestine. Go figure.
 
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Dwimble

Puritan Board Freshman
Speaking of predictive dreams, here's a weird one for you. A little over 20 years ago I had a vivid dream one Saturday morning where I was standing on a dock in Haiti, beside a ship I came on, wearing a goofy safari hat, and listening to a Haitian tell me a story about how his little daughter had been taken from him by practitioners of Voodoo. I woke up, thought it was weird and half wondered if that dream could have been given me by God. Then I immediately dismissed that idea and thought it was silly because why in Heaven's name would I go on a ship? No one goes anywhere on a ship anymore. If I was going to go to Haiti I'd go on a plane, and I certainly wouldn't be wearing a stupid safari hat. Besides, I didn't really believe in that sort of thing anyway. So I dismissed the dream and quickly forgot about it.

A year or two later an opportunity was presented to me to go with a mission team to Haiti to help build an orphanage and school in a little village on top of a mountain near Port au Prince. I accepted, raised the money, and off I went...on a ministry ship. So, what happened? On the dock in Haiti immediately after arriving I met a man and had a long conversation with him about Christ, and eventually he started telling me a story about how his little daughter had been taken from him by practitioners of Voodoo. The second he told me that, memories of the dream came flooding back, and with a stunned look on my face and my friend immediately asking me what was wrong with me, I looked over my shoulder at the ship I had come on, looked again at the man who had just told me the story, and then took off my, yes, totally goofy safari hat that I can't believe I was wearing.

There are a ton of things from that trip that I won't go into, except to say that it truly transformed my life and gave me a heart for missions and the poor from that day forward. But on the topic of dreams...you tell me...was the dream a predictive dream providentially given by God or was it the weirdest coincidence in human history? Nothing like that had ever happened before or since, but it is something I've always treasured but rarely told anyone about.

Oh, and one little humorous aside about the goofy hat. When we got up to the village and everyone was very nervous (both us and the villagers), someone on our team yelled at me to throw him my goofy hat. Lo and behold it sailed through the sky like a Frisbee. So, before you know it our team and virtually the entire village were in a giant circle playing a game throwing my stupid hat across the circle to each other and trying to catch it on our heads. That hat ended up being be best ice-breaker I've ever seen. We all had so much fun it was like we had been friends forever by the time we stopped playing and got down to the business of unloading gear and getting our work started.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
People like Alexander Peden and others occasionally made prophecies but the office of prophet was never revived or claimed by them.

That is the key element which articles on this subject generally omit. In the Bible, a person who proclaimed a message from God declared that his message was from God. Where that element is omitted it is difficult to classify the speech as "prophetic."
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
So Scott, you are affirming that predictive prophesying through dreams and visions still may occur?

Also, do you see Acts 2, Peter's reference to Joel's prophecy being fulfilled (of old mean dreaming dream..visions, etc) as ongoingly applicable in our day, i.e., do dreams and visions still occur sometimes?

"may" still occur-
it is possible BUT it is not an ordinary means, it would be in the context of the extraordinary (miracles).

Scripture would say it is not something to teach God's people to seek, nor would it be normative in light of the Holy Spirit speaking through Scripture, which is the special and complete revelation of God, which is the foundation of our faith.

Acts 2, the Day of Pentecost, and the Holy Spirit coming more explicitly in that, is what the miracles testified to. So, there was fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy at the time of Pentecost, and miracles around it that testified to its authenticity- not opening up new means of special revelation that would ordinarily operate outside of what would soon become the completed Word of God, given to men.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
People like Alexander Peden and others occasionally made prophecies but the office of prophet was never revived or claimed by them.

That is the key element which articles on this subject generally omit. In the Bible, a person who proclaimed a message from God declared that his message was from God. Where that element is omitted it is difficult to classify the speech as "prophetic."

Of course the "unusual" circumstances on how the events unfolded only presupposes that it would be prophetic. If it walks like a duck.....
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
People like Alexander Peden and others occasionally made prophecies but the office of prophet was never revived or claimed by them.

That is the key element which articles on this subject generally omit. In the Bible, a person who proclaimed a message from God declared that his message was from God. Where that element is omitted it is difficult to classify the speech as "prophetic."

Of course the "unusual" circumstances on how the events unfolded only presupposes that it would be prophetic. If it walks like a duck.....

But it does not quack like a duck. One point of resemblance is not sufficient for an identification.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
So Scott, you are affirming that predictive prophesying through dreams and visions still may occur?

Also, do you see Acts 2, Peter's reference to Joel's prophecy being fulfilled (of old mean dreaming dream..visions, etc) as ongoingly applicable in our day, i.e., do dreams and visions still occur sometimes?

"may" still occur-
it is possible BUT it is not an ordinary means, it would be in the context of the extraordinary (miracles).

Scripture would say it is not something to teach God's people to seek, nor would it be normative in light of the Holy Spirit speaking through Scripture, which is the special and complete revelation of God, which is the foundation of our faith.

Acts 2, the Day of Pentecost, and the Holy Spirit coming more explicitly in that, is what the miracles testified to. So, there was fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy at the time of Pentecost, and miracles around it that testified to its authenticity- not opening up new means of special revelation that would ordinarily operate outside of what would soon become the completed Word of God, given to men.

One question: If these extraordinary occurrences are gifts of God, and God tells us to seek the gifts, then why shouldn't we seek this gift for the edification of the Church?

---------- Post added at 03:01 AM ---------- Previous post was at 02:32 AM ----------

Again,

Therefore, how is it possible to receive a prophecy (or providential dream) and NOT have it considered to be Scripture-Quality Revelation?

Is Agabus the best case-study in Scripture of this?


If it is granted that fore-telling prophecy is not "Scripture-Quality Revelation" than the majority of the works I read against prophecy fall away.

.....such as Chantry's work, Waldron's new work and Warfield, since they all say that (ab) prophecy was apostolic and Scripture quality, (b) there are no more Apostles and Scripture is written, (c) besides the Charismatics abuse these gifts anyway..... therefore, no more prophecy or miraculous gifts.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
People like Alexander Peden and others occasionally made prophecies but the office of prophet was never revived or claimed by them.

That is the key element which articles on this subject generally omit. In the Bible, a person who proclaimed a message from God declared that his message was from God. Where that element is omitted it is difficult to classify the speech as "prophetic."

Of course the "unusual" circumstances on how the events unfolded only presupposes that it would be prophetic. If it walks like a duck.....

But it does not quack like a duck. One point of resemblance is not sufficient for an identification.

So what would you suppose it would be? I am curious what you think because I think if someone foretold the future, in the detail described in this thread, then how could this NOT be a prophesy from God. So far as the explanation of "God-given sense of intuition" the detail just does not allow for that In my most humble opinion.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
To keep your comments, in context, I've put responses in blue

So Scott, you are affirming that predictive prophesying through dreams and visions still may occur?

Also, do you see Acts 2, Peter's reference to Joel's prophecy being fulfilled (of old mean dreaming dream..visions, etc) as ongoingly applicable in our day, i.e., do dreams and visions still occur sometimes?

"may" still occur-
it is possible BUT it is not an ordinary means, it would be in the context of the extraordinary (miracles).

Scripture would say it is not something to teach God's people to seek, nor would it be normative in light of the Holy Spirit speaking through Scripture, which is the special and complete revelation of God, which is the foundation of our faith.

Acts 2, the Day of Pentecost, and the Holy Spirit coming more explicitly in that, is what the miracles testified to. So, there was fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy at the time of Pentecost, and miracles around it that testified to its authenticity- not opening up new means of special revelation that would ordinarily operate outside of what would soon become the completed Word of God, given to men.

One question: If these extraordinary occurrences are gifts of God, and God tells us to seek the gifts, then why shouldn't we seek this gift for the edification of the Church?

When these occur, they are not ordinary means, nor to be sought by believers as such, not in light of the completed revelation of Scripture.

---------- Post added at 03:01 AM ---------- Previous post was at 02:32 AM ----------

Again,

Therefore, how is it possible to receive a prophecy (or providential dream) and NOT have it considered to be Scripture-Quality Revelation?

For starters, if God used a dream for some (extraordinary) purpose, it would not have the general revelatory purpose of the Word of God, which is broadly applicable to all men, in all ages.

Second, we are told to seek the revelation of God through Scripture, we are not told in any general sense to do so with "dreams."

What's more, we are told the Word is a chief means of worship of God, not generally the case with a miracle that happens in one person's circumstance.


Is Agabus the best case-study in Scripture of this?


If it is granted that fore-telling prophecy is not "Scripture-Quality Revelation" than the majority of the works I read against prophecy fall away.

Not "Scripture-quality" in the New Testament, post completed canon of Scripture sense.

.....such as Chantry's work, Waldron's new work and Warfield, since they all say that (ab) prophecy was apostolic and Scripture quality, (b) there are no more Apostles and Scripture is written, (c) besides the Charismatics abuse these gifts anyway..... therefore, no more prophecy or miraculous gifts.

It's a difficult truth, but pentecostal/charismatic practice is not merely abusive of "these" gifts, it is wrong in the substance of their doctrine on these points.

The underlying theology assumed is that special revelation of God, ordinarily comes through these "gifts", especially speaking in unknown tongues and interpretation of it- even though the foundation of our faith has been laid in the completed revelation of Scripture.

This is assumed as an ordinary means of revelation and pentecostal/charismatic practice is centered on it and identified by it.

It is one reason there is such disorder in their communions.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Maybe this historical area needs to be studied more closely, but whatever these occasional utterances among the Reformers and Covenanters and other Presbyterians were (and we cannot be sure if they were genuine) they were kept within proper bounds, and didn't lead to a Charismatic Movement.

We have to remember also that even fine and godly men can be so carried away that they stray into enthusiasm (Remember Paul's genuine experience of Heaven, but which had to be tempered by a thorn in the flesh because of remaining sin)

I know of occasional cases of such enthusiasm in Presbyterian circles in Scotland, and the very rare Presbyterian "prophets" and "prophetesses" can be as likely to fail in their "prophecies" as the Pentecostalists.

These people are usually very godly and spiritual and they maybe are tempted stray too far in a wrong direction with their spirituality, but a robust Highland or Lowland Reformed culture prevents them from following too far down that path.

Edward Irving in the nineteenth century, and Pentecostalism and what it has "flowered" into in the twentieth century is of a very different and unwholesome bread altogether.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
Those who hold that the prophetic "office" and thus prophecy as a norm, has ceased with either the demise of the Apostles or the completion of the canon need to keep in mind one fact about the charismatic movement. It is NOT monolithic in doctrine. There is at least a strong minority view within the CM that holds that prophecies origninating after the close of the canon are not binding on the church in the same way that the canon is because the work of the original Apostles and (if prophets in Eph 3.5 is taken to be NT prophets) was, by definition, foundational for the church. And since no other foundation can be laid than that which has already been laid, these folk argue that any prophtic utterances occurring today are non-canonical. Some in this group (e.g. Grudem) have gone so far as to argue that NT prophecy need not fulfill the 100% accuracy challenge of OT prophecy, but I find the cases put forward for this view to be unconvincing.
 
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