The Dangers of Prophecy
A while back there was a flurry of discussion in the blogosphere concerning cessationism vs. continuationism. In my Christian life I have been a member of two churches. The first, where I was baptized at the age of 35, was firmly cessationist (LCMS). The second, where I now belong, was and is decidedly continuationist (Vineyard). Furthermore, one of the doctrinal reasons for the move was precisely this matter of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.
But this post does not represent a new salvo in the cessationist/continuationist debate. I'm not particularly interested in debates. I mention all this simply as background or preface. Lately I've been chewing on the subject of prophecy in my own mind, and I've come to a preliminary conclusion that may set me at odds with the attitudes of some continuationists. I think that many of us in continuationist circles are careless about treating the thoughts and suppositions of our own minds as "prophecy," the very voice of God, and we thereby lead ourselves and others into difficulties and disappointments. We must be more careful, more skeptical, more questioning, more discerning, and more mistrustful of ourselves. Most of all, we must elevate the written Word of God above all other words. We must study the Word with dilligence in order to test thereby all lesser "words." Many have come to grief because they heeded words ("I have a word for you, brother . . .") and not the Word.
Bottom line: we do not know our own Scriptures well enough. This is a dangerous ignorance. Instead, we hasten after words of knowledge, we chase after manifestations, we elevate questionable revelations precisely because the Word of God is not known, loved, and cherished as it should be.
Chesterton said, "When people cease to believe in God, they don't believe in nothing, they believe in anything." We see the truth of this statement in the culture around us every day. I would add, when people cease to honor the Word of God as they should, they will honor any other words instead.
I do believe that God continues to give guidance to men and women today. Of this I have no doubt. For more on this matter, you might read Dan Edelen's wonderful post entitled Hearing God. But the supposition I am testing here and now is this: even if I should never again hear another prophetic word, nevertheless all is well with my soul. Because I have the Scriptures, and they really are, when all is said and done, enough.