The excuse of the false experience.

One of the various blogs I read is by a cessationist, who insists God turned off his miracles after the bible was fully written. Y’know how sometimes names are changed to protect the innocent? I’ll change his to protect the foolish, and call him Wanjala.

Wanjala claims to love the scriptures. No doubt he’s sure he does! But he simply refuses to believe ’em when they state the Holy Spirit’s supernatural gifts are meant to be the normal, everyday practice of present-day Christians. Wanjala doesn’t believe he’s ever had a God-experience, and exactly like those people who can’t bring themselves to believe I met God, he trusts his personal experiences more than he does bible. As a theological conservative he would never, ever admit to doing any such thing. But it’s precisely what he’s doing. He’s the baseline. Not the scriptures.

So according to his firm belief, God Almighty is exactly like those mute idols the gentiles used to worship; 1Co 12.2 he’s not a speaking God. If we ever wanna “hear his voice,” we have the bible. That’s it. That’ll have to do us till Jesus returns. His bible does all his speaking for him.

I bring up Wanjala because some years ago, one of his continuationist friends challenged him to actually try to hear God. For once, could Wanjala just put his personal skepticism aside and simply ask God to speak with him? So Wanjala took him up on it: He asked God whether he had anything to say, and if so, please just say it.

That night, Wanjala had an unusually vivid dream: He dreamed his wife was cheating on him. He even got the man’s name. He didn’t say the name, but since I’m assigning pseudonyms anyway, let’s say it’s Artsiom.

So Wanjala hacked his wife’s Facebook account (as if a smart adulterer would communicate her affair over Facebook… but hey, there are plenty of stupid people out there) and couldn’t find any Artsiom among her contacts and direct messages. Then he asked his wife point-blank if she knew an Artsiom, and interpreted her blank response as if she’d never heard of such a man. I’ll optimistically presume, as did Wanjala, she’s not an exceptional actor. He concluded his wife is innocent… and how stupid it was for him to believe in prophetic dreams.

So that’s what he blogged: He should’ve never sought a personal, extra-biblical communication from God. His fertile imagination led him astray. And that’s what happens when you dare go outside the cessationist bunker: You go all sorts of wrong, dangerous, heretic directions. Because you think, without proof, God told you such-and-so.

Wanjala’s partly right. But mostly wrong.

Confirmation!

If you believe in prophecy, you already guessed where I was gonna go next: Confirmation. How do we know we heard from God, and weren’t just listening to our own imaginary sock puppets? We confirm stuff. “Prove all things,” 1Th 5.21 y’know.

And Wanjala did that. Correctly! Good on him. When he dreamed his wife was cheating on him, he didn’t immediately believe the dream and act on it. He checked it out. As we’re supposed to.

As, irritatingly, a lot of wannabe prophets don’t do. ’Cause they’re convinced their spiritual ears infallibly know the difference between God, devils, and when their subconscious burps up middle-of-the-night fantasies. The reason there are so many false prophecies out there is because they don’t know the difference, and prophecy what they wish were true. It may sound good and impressive, and consistent with everything they currently believe, but it’s not the Holy Spirit at all. It’s why John told his church to test spirits, 1Jn 4.1 even if they think they know best.

Wanjala correctly tested his dream, found it untrue, and rejected it. Follow this example.

Now, where he went wrong was to jump to the conclusion no prophetic dream is true. In logic we call this the “fallacy of proof by example.” It’s like arguing,

  1. A white man stole my wallet.
  2. All white men are thieves.

There’s a premise missing in this syllogism. It simply takes one instance, and presumes all instances. My aunt does this on a regular basis: She talks with one person, and leaps to the conclusion everybody thinks the way this one person does. “You know, everybody likes this.” No, one person likes this. In her mind, somehow one person became “everybody,” and when I pointed out to her she does this, she was surprised; she was totally unaware she did this. Most people are.

Wanjala follows the same flawed logic.

  1. My “prophetic dream” was false.
  2. All prophetic dreams are false.

Even though he totally believes in the prophetic dreams of the prophet Daniel, of both Josephs (the patriarch and Jesus’s dad), of King Solomon, of King Abimelech, of all sorts of biblical personages. Stories in the bible are fine. Present-day instances are not.

But all Wanjala actually knows is his dream was fiction. His conclusion is still unproven. Y’can’t jump to general conclusions from one instance. Not only is it not logical, it’s called prejudice.

And hey: If a devil overheard Wanjala’s request for God to talk to him, and wanted to drive a permanent wedge between him and God—guaranteeing Wanjala would never, ever listen to God again—this was a really easy trick. All it had to do was play God this one time, insert the idea of a wayward spouse into Wanjala’s subconscious so it’d show up in his dreams, get caught (or not; the resulting chaos would’ve done the trick too), and here we are.

Wanjala’s worldview was already biased against this experiment to begin with. He’s spent years defending his cessationism. So he’s no doubt relieved to find it easily confirmed. Back into the comfort zone for him, with an inert God who’s really easy to ignore. Easier, now that Wanjala has “proof” he shouldn’t bother to listen.

Prove everything; hold fast that which is good.

Feel free to debunk false prophets. They need debunking.

Feel free to be skeptical of the things “God” tells you, just in case it’s not really God, but your own hyperactive imagination. There’s nothing wrong with such doubts! They’re your friends. They’re meant to spur you to test stuff, like God wants; like the apostles ordered us to. We need to make sure we’re not leading ourselves astray, nor letting devils mess with our heads and introduce all sorts of corruption into Christendom. There’s enough of that as it is.

But from time to time you’re gonna discover a message from God, a prophecy, a miracle, or a faith-healing, is totally on the level. Something did happen. It is a God-thing. He is interacting with humanity. He hasn’t abandoned and forsaken us, like cessationists imagine.

And whenever we discover the good stuff, we’re to cling to it. But the scripture which instructs us to cling to it, 1Th 5.21 presumes we’re gonna find good stuff. We’re gonna have valid God-experiences. Otherwise what point is there in having such verses in our bibles?

Like I said, Wanjala claims to love the scriptures, but he’s totally fine with his cessationist perspective kicking the legs out from underneath a whole bunch of them. If God legitimately turned off the miracles, whole swaths of the New Testament are null. Null. They’re of no use to Christians today; the only thing we can learn of them is God was mighty generous with his power towards the New Testament church, but gives Christians today nothing. Less than nothing; we have this bible which was clearly written for a supernatural people, and its existence mocks our powerlessness. “God used to do this, but Christians today? You’re boned.”

But we’re not. Jesus said we can do everything he did and more. Jn 14.12 Yeah, there are frauds in the world who are pretending they’re doing as he did. Don’t be one of those cynics who presume because there are so many counterfeits, the real thing must not exist. It does. Plenty of us have seen it. So can you. Don’t give up so easily. Keep looking.