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   March 2000 Pneuma Informer
In this issue:
  • Conversations with Pneuma Informer readers: Join some lively conversations with Informer readers
  • Excerpts from the Spring 2000 issue of the Pneuma Review:
    • From "That Glorious Day When Tongues are Not Needed: Until Then . . ." Part 1, from the Praying In the Spirit series by Robert Graves
    • From the Messianic Foundations Series by Kevin Williams, "Cheleb: The Finest"
    • Periodical Review: "Don't Hate Me Because I'm an Arminian" by Roger E. Olson. Reviewed by Mike Dies
  • Prayer Requests & Praise Reports


Conversations with Pneuma Informer readers

Introduction: The last issue of the Pneuma Informer generated several responses from our readers. We share two of them here as something we trust will interest all of our readers.


Reader:

I just received my first Pneuma Informer. Although I am not quite patient enough to read all the way to the end, I did enough to see the comment about Martin Luther being more boisterous than Kenneth Hagin. Your letter is well researched. I like that. I look forward to your next posting.
- pcm

Response:

Thanks for your encouragement.

I really don't think that Martin Luther has a lot of similarities to Kenneth Hagin. However, his prayer for Philip Melancthon was certainly bold, a boldness not found among most who would describe themselves as his followers. The story of Melancthon's healing is a wonderful illustration of how God has healed all through Christian history, using willing (and bold) vessels such as Martin Luther.

If God has done great things like that since the time of the early church, and His Word gives us the authority to approach Him boldly and expectantly with such requests, we have every reason to think He will do the same thing today. Praise God that He does not change and that He answers prayer according to His will.

- Raul Mock, Executive Editor


Reader:

Brother Raul:

I appreciate your work and what you appear to be doing. I apologize for not getting back to you concerning any involvement with the Foundation. I have been exceedingly busy in the ministry.

I hope you will not be offended by my candor, but I find myself unwillingly hesitant to enter into extended dialogue with you for several reasons.

Number one, I just simply do not have time - as director of an outreach to cultists, I found myself thrust into becoming a webmaster (something I never wanted to do) and find that the scope of our discernment work is much broader than simply addressing Charismatic and Pentecostal excesses (a very real passion that a major portion of our site will share).

Number two, I have many questions concerning the nature of the constituency of your correspondents. Many of these center upon who they are, where they are coming from doctrinally and practically, and whether or not they support a relevant, Biblical and sound Christian worldview and spirituality from legitimately Pentecostal/Charismatic perspectives.

As an ex-Catholic, now Church of God (Cleveland) minister, I certainly do not want to seem as if I am seeking to be a judge of men's hearts, nor a narrow minded doctrinaire focused only upon my own agenda. I certainly rejoice and respect diversity in the Body of Christ, and yet I cannot find myself ready to align myself with people I do not know. The Scripture says we should know whom we labor among .. and with. I have had no indications about these, and cannot consider getting involved until I do.

And number three, I have already received some indications that the collusion of diversity you have indicated in Pneuma are singularly troubling. For example:

Are you aware of C. Peter Wagner's wholehearted commendation he gives to the work and insight of Bill Hamon, one of the foremost proponents of rankly heretical Manifest Sons Of God / Latter Rain doctrine? I do not harbor any ill will towards brother Wagner or brother Hamon and esteem them as fine and zealous Christian men. Yet Wagner's willingness to assume so readily the kind of undiscerning pragmatism he displays in embracing the work of men like Hamon truly alarms me. I cannot recommend his work in good conscience, yet I see that the Pneuma Foundation runs the risk of indirectly doing just that.

Such close proximity of Christians with false teaching is something that I believe completely undercuts the mission of your work. I realize we don't live in a perfect world where everyone is utterly orthodox to a fault. Still, where we do have light and we do have established warnings about the nature of a false teaching, we cannot overlook the essential rooting our fellows in ministry may have in it and avoid discerning it for the sake of "fellowship."

I am not saying the Pneuma Foundation has necessarily and consciously done this, but I am troubled when I see an organization setting forth to help bring a balance to the Body of Christ in teaching and we find ourselves being confronted with places where that balance can easily be lost and be totally unaware of it.

As you can see, I have some very strong views on this, but don't want to appear like a rigid religious xenophobe. I can fellowship with Charismatic people who don't see Pentecost as I do and work through differences. In that regard, I feel I am a classical Pentecostal who knows all too well that God is bigger than our boxes. But on the issue of Biblical truth, I cannot and will not "stretch" nor accommodate. I believe there is much that can be said about the "five fold ministry" today that can be a great blessing to the Church, and yet it is my opinion that there is entirely too MUCH being trumpeted about it that is noise ranging from wishful restorational thinking to divisive and cultic dogma - and most of THAT is hardly "Biblical". Hamon's material borders dangerously on the latter, and in some cases, goes over the edge, and this same man is hailed as a great Christian statesman by Wagner in the introduction to his book Apostles, Prophets And The Coming Moves Of God.

As a Pentecostal minister who has seen way too much of "Third Wave" five fold aberrance, I can't accept Hamon as a voice of balance simply because Wagner thinks he is. Or Cindy Jacobs, or any other Charismatic/Pentecostal leader. Yet this sad state of affairs is the MO of imbalance in our traditions.

I don't think Pneuma Foundation is going to play this game, yet I see some of that brinkmanship in your book recommendation. That makes me very, very nervous and hesitant about further involvement.

Sorry for the length of this letter, but I have to be honest with you on my concerns. I am open to discussion on this, and enjoy the teases you give me on your articles. Yet I cannot pursue further relationships with your Foundation until I get some understanding on where you all jointly stand upon these issues. They are important to me, if not to others, and are fundamental to establishing real rapport with the issues you endeavor to examine and a legitimate Christian dialogue.

Thanks for your time.

agape

-- Name withheld


Response:

Thank you for communicating with us. We respect your candor and appreciate your "critique."

Please allow me to say that views expressed in materials published by the Pneuma Foundation are not necessarily the views of the other editors, writers, or membership of the Pneuma Foundation. In offering a book for sale through our resource arm, Pneuma Biblical Resources, we are not endorsing the views the book expresses.

There are many books for sale at your local Christian bookstore that are easily recognized as containing unbiblical concepts. However, if the Pneuma Foundation will be perceived as entirely endorsing everything it offers for sale through its resource arm, we need to reevaluate how and "whom" we offer for sale. Thank you for the challenge you have presented to us to do this.

I would also like to address your reasons for avoiding extended dialogue with those of us who make up the Pneuma Foundation. First of all, our mission as a ministry is to lead Pentecostal/charismatic believers to a greater understanding of God's Word and to encourage dialogue among all believers regarding the gifts of the Spirit for today.

We are committed to the defense of the gifts of the Holy Spirit for today and making known the love, power, and forgiveness found in Jesus Christ alone. In a very real sense, our vision is for Pentecostals and charismatics to move away from the messiness of error and excesses that have marked us for so long, coming into greater Biblical balance. Please read our quarterly journal, the Pneuma Review. I believe this will help answer many of your questions about where we are coming from and what perspectives we express.

In regards to the doctrinal accuracy of Bill Hamon, I was under the impression that he has gone to some lengths to distance himself from the Manifest Sons heresy. Whether this is true or not, I am not certain as he mentions the Latter Rain movement favorably in some of his writings. When he speaks of "last days" apostles leading us into the full revelation of God, we certainly must take exception to his understanding of the five-fold ministry. Also, while the Pneuma Foundation officially holds to a pre-millennial position in regards to last things, many of us have differing views. In that regard, Bill Hamon's restorationism is very disturbing to many of us. However, as God does not seem to be nearly as interested in our doctrinal correctness as in our yielded-ness and our love for the brethren, there may be much we can learn from Hamon. Perhaps there are many "bones" to spit out, but his pastoral experience and wisdom of prophetic ministry are not automatically valueless because of his doctrinal errors.

Nevertheless, we should not discount all of C. Peter Wagner's work simply because he makes "bad judgement" calls about some individuals (if that is what he has done in this case). Some of the people Wagner associates with, as well as Wagner himself, have theological positions with which we do not agree. Wagner's contribution to the kingdom of God does not hinge upon this. I would wholeheartedly agree with your discomfort of our offering his materials for sale if we were endorsing all of his work or theological positions. However, by offering a book for sale, we are not endorsing, either directly or by implication, all of the author's work or beliefs.

I hope that this has helped clarify for you a little bit of what we are about. You are invited to continue to communicate with us about this subject.

May the Lord allow you to shine His light upon those who struggle in darkness. May the Lord bless you and your ministry to draw many to Himself.

--The Editors



Excerpts from to the soon to be released Spring 2000 issue (Vol 3. No 2) of the Pneuma Review


From the article: "That Glorious Day When Tongues are Not Needed: Until Then . . .", Part 1 by Robert Graves. This is from the Praying in the Spirit series.

. . .

Tongues and Apostles

The first modern cessationist to develop the theory that tongues and the apostles were inseparable was B. B. Warfield. No one has improved his argument, but many have restated it. He wrote in 1918: "They [the special gifts] were part of the credentials of the Apostles as the authoritative agents of God in founding the church. Their function thus confined them to distinctively the Apostolic Church, and they necessarily passed away with it" (p. 6). Forty-five years later, Hoekema quotes Warfield in his argument and concludes that "the purpose and function of the special miraculous gifts of the Spirit was to authenticate the apostles as true messengers from God. ... If the miraculous signs were intended to authenticate the apostles, they would no longer be needed after the apostles had done their work" (What, pp. 109-110). Stibbs and Packer come to the same conclusions concerning the "special manifestations" of the Spirit:

"Their purpose, according to the New Testament, was dispensational rather than personal; that is, they were given to authenticate the Gospel and its first messengers, and to mark publicly the transition from the era of the old covenant to that of the new. The need for them ended when the apostles' unique ministry was finished and the writing of the New Testament was completed" (p.33).

Especially note the words "according to the New Testament" because it will soon become apparent that the New Testament nowhere states that (1) certain gifts of the Spirit were for the purpose of authenticating the apostles or (2) the gift or office of apostleship would cease. Second Corinthians 12:12, "The things that mark an apostle-signs, wonders and miracles-were done among you with great perseverance," is one Scripture that is used to wed tongues to apostleship. Paul's argument, it is said, would be illogical if all Christians were performing these things (MacArthur, p.80; see also Romans 15:18-19). What the cessationists overlook, however, is that it was the Corinthians and the "super-apostles," not Paul, who placed the emphasis upon "signs, wonders and miracles." It was they who placed such phenomena at the top of the apostolic certification criteria. Paul's writings indicate that for him apostleship was certified not by charismatic phenomena but by evangelism and changed lives. "You are the seal of my apostleship," he told the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 9:2; see also Mark 16:15-17).

In light of I Corinthians 12:28 ("And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues" NASB), it appears that displays of healing or miracle-working power do not certify one as an apostle and are not limited to the office of apostleship. This verse makes it clear that there were in the Church apostles, workers of miracles, those having gifts of healings, and those with gifts of tongues. No doubt miracles occurred under Paul's ministry, but he does not consider them important signs of apostleship or limited only to apostles. After listing many of his trials and persecutions he writes, "If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness" (2 Corinthians 11:30). For Paul, there were greater indicators of apostleship than "signs, wonders and miracles."

. . .

After "proving" that tongues were limited to the ministry of the apostles, the cessationist now argues that the office of apostle ceased. Seven scripture passages are referenced for this purpose. First is Ephesians 2:20-"[You are] built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone." The argument, as Stott states it, is that "once the foundation of a building is laid and the superstructure is being built, the foundation cannot be laid again" (pp. 100-101). C. R. Smith writes, "The church Jesus is building was founded on the apostles. There is no need for apostles today unless the church is to be refounded-and if so, another cornerstone should be required!" (p.72).

Let's look at the context of this passage. There is no hint here that Paul's concern is the cessation of apostleship. In this passage, his actual concern is the oneness that we in Christ have. Notice the verses that Ephesians 2:20 is nestled among: "For through him [Christ] we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household. . . . In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord" (verses 18-l9, 21). These verses are not remotely concerned with when the offices of apostle and prophet cease. Instead, Paul writes these words so that factions and inferiority might cease. We are one in the Spirit!

It should also be noted that the cessationist interpretation of this passage is self-defeating. In verse 20 Paul says that the Ephesian church was built upon the apostles and prophets, past tense. That being the case, apostleship and prophecy could no longer be in operation at the time of Paul's writing to the Ephesians, for a building cannot be raised until the foundation is finished. If they have ceased, how can Paul continue to receive and transmit divine revelation? If the cessationist interpretation of Ephesians 2:20 is correct, Paul did not have the authority to say that apostleship and prophecy no longer existed, for he would no longer be an apostle.

Furthermore, two chapters later Paul writes that it was Christ "who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (4:1 l-13; emphasis added). Until we have unity, until factions cease, we will need to work to build up the Church body.

What then does Ephesians 2:20 mean? Simply put, it means that just as the early Jewish church was built upon the teachings of the apostles and prophets, so too was the Gentile church. We are one. If we must twist this verse until it seems to say something about apostles and prophets, I suppose we could claim it teaches that apostles and prophets are instrumental in founding churches, whether in Jerusalem, Corinth, Ephesus, or Atlanta, Georgia. It is Christianity's and, therefore, the world's loss that we do not recognize, esteem, and support men and women who have these gifts or offices. Many men and women whom the Church weakly and hesitantly sends out with the word of salvation should be boldly sent out as apostles and prophets of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let them shout it from the rooftops; let them proclaim His goodness throughout the earth; let their voices of light pierce the darkness! Or, should we listen to the voice of unbelief: "There are no apostles today, no prophets either, no healings, no miracles, no tongues"? God forbid!

. . .



From the Messianic Foundations Series: "Cheleb: The Finest" by Kevin Williams

. . .

Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him (Gen. 4:8).

We don't know what Cain told Abel. The Scripture doesn't give us any insight to the conversation. Cain may have talked about his conversation with God. They may have discussed the weather. Or Cain may have told Abel off. We simply don't know. Yet here is the great paradox: Abel, whose offering was favored, is dead. It sounds like the age-old question, "Why do the wicked prosper?" "Why has the way of the wicked prospered? Why are all those who deal in treachery at ease?" (Jer 12:1).

Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" And he said, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?" (Gen. 4:9).

Again, God speaks with Cain. You or I might be on our faces, trembling with fear of retribution, but Cain still seems to be totally self-absorbed.

The Most High never asks a question for His benefit. Rather, He tries to get people to think before they answer. The merciful Judge was giving Cain an opportunity to repent. God knew a murder had taken place. He knew that Cain was guilty and deserving of capital punishment, yet our God of compassion was offering him one more chance to change.

In Genesis 4:10-12 God says, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to Me from the ground. Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth." As already mentioned, Cain was deserving of capital punishment, yet this Old Testament God grants Cain unmerited mercy. God had cursed the ground when Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden of Eden, now that ground curses Cain, the consequences of his sin. Even with mercy come consequences.

Here we see a judgment that fits the crime. God recognized Cain's self-absorbed behavior, what we might call a pity-party in the modern vernacular. "You want to be in a pity-party?" He says, "So be it. Your life will be pitiful."

At this point, a man of good conscience should be on his face pleading for forgiveness and escape from the pronouncement. But not Cain. Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is too great to bear! Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me" (Gen. 4:13).

Cain the Selfish can still only think of himself and is, in essence, calling God "mean." Cain seems ignorant of all the Lord has tried to do on his behalf. The Most High desired intimate worship, warned Cain when he was out of step, and even now-though Cain deserves death-is attempting to discipline him into repentance. But Cain is deaf and blind, depraved to these truths. Are we so different?

Cain understood the depths of his crime, though he still did not admit having perpetrated it. At no point did the merciful God say He was going to hide his face from him. Yet Cain knew that is what he deserved. At no point did God say that anyone else was going to be allowed to kill him, yet Cain's depression and self-centeredness was fast becoming paranoia! Truly, as God had lovingly warned Cain, sin was no longer crouching, but had deceived and taken him.

You or I might have said, "Enough!" and thrown Cain out. This is not what God did. Rather, He affirms his love and provision for Cain: So the LORD said to him, "Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold." And the LORD appointed a sign for Cain, so that no one finding him would slay him (Gen. 4:15).

Despite modern detractors, that the God of the Old Testament is wrathful and mean, God does not respond to Cain spitefully or wrathfully. He responds with a grace gift.

What can we learn from Cain and Abel? Our God is a God of compassion and mercy, desiring fellowship, and will go to great lengths to restore that fellowship, even among unrighteous sinners. We learn that our second best, in any endeavor, does not bring satisfaction. We cannot bring God our leftovers and expect that we will find satisfaction. He is pleased only by our faith-response, because our efforts never amounted to anything anyway. There are also plain lessons showing that self-centeredness leads to sin and destruction. And above all, we have this promise of God: though sin's desire is for us, with the help of the sacrifice made for us, Yeshua our Savior, we can master it!



Periodical Review:

"Don't Hate Me Because I'm an Arminian," Christianity Today (September 6, 1999). Roger E. Olson. Pp. 87-94.

Many remember the schism between George Whitefield and John Wesley as a microcosm of the debate between Calvinists and Arminians. Roger E. Olson points out that although they made up before they died, " . . .their disagreement has lived on in American evangelicals' waxing and waning debates about sovereignty and the doctrines of election and free will" (p. 87). He says that the unity enjoyed by the post-World War II evangelical coalition is beginning to wane with more and more Reformed Scholars, like R.C. Sproul and Michael Horton, questioning whether an Arminian can be a genuine evangelical. Horton goes as far as to say "An evangelical cannot be an Arminian any more than an evangelical can be a Roman Catholic" (p. 87).

Olson defines Arminians as "Protestants who deny unconditional election and affirm resistible grace" (p. 87). He further states "I hope for a new d'tente between those of us who believe in the soul's ability to cooperate with regenerating grace (Arminians) and those evangelicals who believe that regenerating grace must precede even repentance and faith (Calvinists)" (p. 87).

Olson contends that the two sides of this great debate need each other. Though he had been taught from youth that Calvinists were practically heretics, a turning point came for him when at the funeral of a relative a Reformed pastor " . . . preached one of the most evangelical sermons I had ever heard. He challenged all present to give their lives to Jesus Christ . . . cognitive dissonance finally broke out into complete rebellion against the anti-Calvinist polemics I had heard from Pentecostal leaders and teachers" (p. 90). Though he still did not hold to Calvinist doctrine, he realized that the " . . . tent of authentic evangelical Christianity was bigger and broader than I had been led to believe" (p. 90). Olson began to see that though there is not much middle ground in the debate (e.g. Cal-minians) they could certainly learn from each other's emphases. "I was convinced that the evangelical community needs both George Whitefield and John Wesley, and that their heirs need one another to achieve the beauty of balance" (emphasis his, p. 90).

Working among many Reformed theologians, Olson learned that many equated Arminian with semi-Pelagianism, a heresy named for a fifth-century British monk named Pelagius, who taught that men were born innocent and therefore could initiate salvation. Informed Arminians are quick to point out that they do not believe man can initiate salvation, for he is spiritually dead. They hold that God moved first through prevenient or enabling grace, which allows the sinner to make a decision to accept or reject the gospel.

Olson felt a need to help bring these two evangelical groups together, not in unanimity, but unity. "A new outbreak of conflict and exclusion over this issue cannot serve any useful purpose but to divide, exclude, and weaken the fragile evangelical unity so carefully constructed and preserved over the past five decades" (p. 92). It is crucial that Arminians and Calvinists allow for variation in disputable matters, including favorite or defining doctrines. "Truth matters, but not all truth matters equally. Some things we will never know for sure until the darkened glasses are removed and we all see 'face to face.' In the meantime we need to learn how to respect and appreciate one another in humility while holding to our own favored interpretations of the debatable biblical materials about divine sovereignty, election, free will, and the resistibility of grace" (p. 94).

Olson poses quite a challenge to the evangelical community in this excellent article. The church is oftentimes held up to ridicule by the world we are trying to reach as a result of loveless in-fighting. We who believe that there is salvation in the Lord Jesus alone need to join together as brothers. It is my sincere hope that the church heeds Olson's plea, which I feel originates ultimately in the heart of God. "I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You" (Jn. 17: 20b-21a).

Reviewed by Michael J. Dies



Prayer Requests

  • Please pray for Larry Williams, father of Kevin Williams who is the author of the Messianic Foundations series appearing in the Pneuma Review. He is having some heart problems and needs a healing touch from God.
  • Continue praying about the Pneuma Foundation website going live. The volunteer webmaster, David Driggs, has encountered a number of delays. However, we hope to make an announcement about its availability within a couple of weeks.

Praise Reports

  • Congratulations to Dr. Amos Yong on his appointment to Book Review Editor for the prestigious scholarly journal PNEUMA: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies. Amos Yong is Assistant Professor of Theology at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and a contributing editor for the Pneuma Review.



  • Please send us your prayer requests and praise reports. We have a great God who always meets our needs.
  • If you would like more information about how you may help in meeting these needs, please E-mail us.