This article was written by Caleb Nakina a 4th year student at CABC…
Tendency to Accept Extra-canonical Revelation
Charismatics tend to readily accept extra-canonical revelation. Even Kenneth Hagin, a staunch Charismatic leader, concedes that this is the case. He says, “A minister who at one time was very sound said, ‘I don’t need that book anymore. I am beyond that.’ Then he threw the Bible on the floor. ‘I have the Holy Ghost. I am a Prophet. God sends my instructions direct.’” (MacArthur 362). This quote serves to tie the problem of accepting extra-canonical revelation to that of undermining the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. The quote does so for us very accurately and dramatically. To think about the implications of a belief in the availability of extra-canonical revelation from God today is quite saddening.
Some Charismatics may verbally assent to the fact that the canon of Scripture is closed, nonetheless. Most do so, however, out of ignorance of their system of theology. They do not know that a belief in new revelation from prophets and dreams is incompatible with the fact of a closed canon. What compounds the confusion is the fact that even some of those who seem to understand the fact that the canon is closed still accept prophecies and other forms of new revelation. This is because the two are at the very heart of the movement’s theology. Prophecy, being one of the first century supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, thus finds itself being greedily craved after by the Charismatics. No matter what its dangers are, being part of the core that forms the movement’s identity, it is difficult to be let go of.
Charismaticism is similar to Roman Catholicism in this way: Both seek to add more revelation to the Scriptures (i.e. new direct revelations, and the Apocrypha and the church’s traditions respectively). The only difference is in the fact that the latter accept extra-canonical revelation from the past while the Charismatics accept present day extra-canonical content. The Reformers rejected Roman Catholicism, and had “Sola Scriptura” (Latin for Scripture alone) as one of their battle cries. They totally refused to accept anything else except the canon of Scripture to be the rule for their Christian living. They were willing to die for this conviction. It is largely from these men that we draw our heritage as evangelical Christians today. Charles Hodge says, “Romanists deny, and Protestants affirm, the completeness of the sacred Scriptures” (172). Today Charismatics deny the completeness of the Scriptures when they insist on admitting new revelations through prophets, dreams, etc. Trueness to our heritage stands firmly against such teachings. The reformers would reject any modern ideas that there is more revelation from God for us beyond the Scriptures. “The people of God are bound by nothing but the Word of God” (Hodge 183).
Sound theology must embrace the fact that the canon of Scripture is closed and that every effort to add new revelation from God is to be rejected as unchristian (Grudem 52-79; Hodge 182-3; Erickson 61-98). Hebrews 1:1-3 teaches that God speaks in a different way now than He did in the Old Testament times. In the New Testament era, God speaks through His Son. In John 1:1-2, Jesus Christ, the Son of God is called the Word. The effect of these two verses when understood together is that God speaks in the New Testament era through the revelation of Jesus Christ to us. That has all been authoritatively inscripturated in the 27 New Testament books.
Their Tendency to Rely on Other Authorities
Charismatics tend to rely on other authorities more than on the Bible. It is easy to see the point of this section in relation to the one that has gone before. The fact that they easily accept new revelation from God translates into over exulting in the prowess of the special men and women who are supposedly used by God to communicate with them. Charismatics prize their own invented channel of communication the way they should have been doing the Word of God. These people who are claimed to communicate from God have become their Bible. No wonder they prize them so highly. They tend to give fancy names to their spiritual leaders because they generally tend to vest them with authority that is beyond what should normally be accorded them. One hears such phrases as “man of God” and “anointed one” used in heated defenses of their leaders’ errors. These terms are used almost as phrases of adoration.
But “men of God” are not the only authority that is apparently exalted above the Scriptures. Experience is yet another. The subtlety of this authority derives from the fact that “experience” is not a concrete noun. So, one may not even know when they appeal to experience as the ultimate judge in matters of faith and practice. Consider, for instance, someone who insists that the health and wealth gospel must be correct because “it worked for me.” Such a person is definitely appealing to experience as their final authority. This appeal is a common characteristic of the Charismatic movement (MacArthur 25-29). In a fashion that is parallel to the words of the minister whom Hagins quoted—referred to earlier in this paper—some Charismatic Christians will literally say to put aside the Bible in favor of experience. John MacArthur has been confronted in this way before (25).
Such pragmatism that argues, “But it works!” may sound logically astute, but when examined biblically, it is found to be deceptive. Had Joshua followed such a pragmatic approach to his leadership he would not have matched around Jericho to defeat it. According to experience and common sense, matching around enemies does not cause their sudden demise. Under Joshua’s leadership, Israel did not do what they did because it made sense. All members of humanity are limited in many ways and cannot be trusted to know what works for Christian conduct apart from God’s aid (Jer. 17:9). Today, God’s aid is to be found objectively only in the Scriptures. It is only God who cannot be deceived by our thoroughly deceptive hearts (see Jer. 17:10), and He should thus be left to judge for us what works and what does not. Pragmatism is a secular philosophy. Christianly speaking, it is irrational since it ignores the wisdom of the wisest Person who exists—God (Rom. 16:27).
Some of those who do so have to somewhat re-define terms like prophecy (see for instance Grudem 1039-42).
It has been noted that both of these verses were written at a time when God was revealing things about Christ through His apostles. However, Revelation 22:18 asserts that the canon is closed, and that nothing should be added to the Scriptures (cf. Deut. 17:22). Doing so does not attract God’s blessing, but His curse. Today, because Christ is legitimately revealed to us only in the Scriptures that have been handed down to us from the dawn of Christianity, it follows that any claims of new revelation are erroneous at best and demonic at worst. God speaks only through His Son in these last days, and since He guarantees that no new revelation will come from Him after the book of Revelation, this practically means that God speaks to us only through the Bible—the old revelation which He has already given.