Thursday, April 17, 2008

Prophets for the Modern-Day

In my church culture, it is popularly believed that miracles and the like, such as healings and prophecy, ceased shortly after the last of Jesus' original Apostles died. The thinking is that such capabilities were specially given to the Apostles, who could then pass on those abilities through the laying on of hands to other people, but that those recipients could not pass on the abilities.

I know the arguments for this position, and frankly, I find that the arguments are somewhat weak. It seems to me that we don't believe in miracles in the modern day because we do not personally experience them. We then take this belief, developed through our experience, and "reinterpret" the text so that it aligns with this belief.

But as one small data point in contradiction to this belief, I present a passage read last night at church, Ephesians 4:11-13:
It was he 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.
Taking this passage at face-value, it seems to me that it teaches that so long as there is need for evangelists and pastors and teachers, there is need for apostles and prophets. The alternative is to claim that the church has already reached "unity in the faith" and has already "become mature" and has already attained to the "whole measure of the fullness of Christ".

I'm not entirely sure what to do with this concept. But one thing I absolutely will not do is to simply dismiss the idea of modern-day apostles and prophets because it doesn't fit in with my preconceived theology.

Of course, the issue is much larger than this one passage and entire books have been written on it (I just finished Jack Deere's two-in-one book, "Surprised by the [Spirit | Voice of God]"). The point is, it's time to return to the attitude of reading what's in the text, rather than reading what you believe into the text.

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