Yesterday, I posted a debate I had on Facebook with those who claim that their personal “revelation” and “inspiration” can trump scripture, and that scripture is not the Word of God.
In that debate, Christopher Kirk, a longtime “organic” voice and blogger, finally made clear what he and many of the “old guard” in the organic/simple church community believe: “The bible is NOT the Word of God” and “God can tell you to go directly against scripture“.
The fellowships I’m part of are organic/simple churches. We are not big or flashy, but daily we see the transforming power of God as He works through everyone in dynamic functional community and open, participatory meetings.
Unlike the organic church “old guard”, we are growing, multiplying, and seeing folks move forth in authentic spiritual power. Many are coming to Christ, and their lives and whole communities are being transformed.
Why? Because we fully embrace a vibrant relationship with the Living Word, while submitting to the discipline and authority of His written Word.
Please, re-read that last sentence. Let it soak in. It is key to what God wants to do among His people today.
Vibrant Life and Authority
We have found a simply truth: By embracing both His life and His authority, we are able to reproduce life through the authority He then gives us.
With that authority, we are able to minister in ways that routinely break strongholds that otherwise keep individuals and communities in bondage.
It is a basic spiritual principle: Those seeking to exercise authority must be under authority.
To the Christian existentialists and postmodern apologists of our age, however, “authority” is a dirty word. Instead, they demand autonomy over God Himself by rejecting the authority and discipline of His written Word – while claiming the “Holy Spirit” told them so!
Really? Is the Holy Spirit a liar? Are they so special that He tells them some new, “deeper life” truth which is at odds with what He told Peter, John, James and Paul?
Do their self-proclaimed revelations trump what Jesus’ hand-picked Apostles wrote down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to create what we now call the New Testament?
By rejecting God’s authority as expressed in His written Word, is it any wonder that churches which embrace the existential autonomy of the “old guard” have been so stymied, anemic and insular? When you reserve the right to elevate your own opinions, perceptions, “deeper life” revelation and weird doctrines over scripture, you inevitably will bear bad fruit.
They lack authority to have real impact, because they have rejected God’s authority and borne false witness against the Holy Spirit Himself – by claiming He told them to do so.
Our churches, thank God, have rejected the existentialism that’s laid waste to vast segments of the organic church community, with its insular and anemic fellowships and stymied believers who remain trapped in their own sensibilities.
To insure an open debate on these critical issues, I respond below to Christopher Kirk’s blogs – which he posted after I debunked on Facebook his existential rejection of scripture as the word of God and his existential assertion that he has the right to claim personal revelation from the Holy Spirit which contradicts scripture. See Is the Holy Spirit a Liar? (Part 1).
A you will see, I refute his misuse of John 16, where Jesus told His twelve apostles that the Holy Spirit would lead them into all truth.
I think the Holy Spirit still speaks to us today, so I am not claiming that He only spoke to the twelve!
Regardless of how anyone thinks John 16 might apply today, my point is this: Takes great hubris to use that passage to now claim the authority to reject or contradict what the Holy Spirit said to Jesus’ hand-picked Apostles – whom Jesus specifically spoke to and commissioned in John 16 – and their resulting writings which became the New Testament.
To do so also is to call the Holy Spirit a liar.
Because Chris refused to post my responses to his blogs (he has the right – I’m not objecting to that), I am doing so here.
A Continuing Dialog
So here’s the dialog…
Christopher Kirk (I’m only quoting the relevant parts of his blog, but not the whole thing, with emphasis added):
“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come.” John 16: 12-13
There we have it! The definitive word, right from the mouth of Jesus Himself…. It is The Spirit that guides and leads us into all truth. This is why I say that we must be Spirit led and NOT bible led. Taking these words of Jesus into full account how can anyone say any different?
The Spirit is above the bible there is just no other way around that truth….
[T]he bible does not always lead us back to the truth of The Spirit….
So I choose to yield and submit to The Spirit’s leading in all things, biblical and not….
I refuse to follow or bow down to anything or anyone less than God Himself. I choose direct revelation from The Spirit over and above secondary revelation from a book about Him on any day.
Me (my blocked response, with some minor additions and edits):
Let me be sure to understand this.
Those words you quoted from John 16 were spoken by Jesus to his hand picked apostles as he specifically commanded them to spread his message throughout the world – while also assured them that the Holy Spirit would help guide them into all truth.
They then went forth, proclaiming all that the Holy Spirit gave them to teach. They even put what the Holy Spirit told them into gospels, letters and epistles, which became the New Testament.
But you take that verse out of context, and perversely use it it to claim that what the Holy Spirit now tells you is superior to what He then told them.
In doing so, you reserve the right to claim higher, personal revelation that can contradict the specific apostolic fulfillment of those very specific verses, which resulted in the very specific gospels, letters and epistles of the New Testament, following a very specific commission to very specific men from Jesus Himself.
Do I have that right?
Furthermore, you say your new revelation is “direct” and superior to the revelation they received, recorded and handed down to us under under the authority they received from Jesus Himself – and what the Holy Spirit told them is now “secondary” to your own revelation.
Sorry, Chris, but I think I’ll stick with what the Holy Spirit told Peter, John, James and Paul (as validated by Peter in 2 Pet. 3:16-17), rather any new “revelation” and “inspiration” you or your other existential buddies may claim to have received.
Finally, I want to be clear. The Holy Spirit still speaks to us today. Where I part from you is with your claim that what He says to you is superior to, and can be at odds with, what He’s already authoritatively revealed in scripture – in fulfillment of the very verses you now cite out of context.
Of course the Holy Spirit speaks to us personally and says many things even today, but He is NOT a liar: What He says today will never contradict what He has said in scripture – and all claims to the contrary must be submitted to and judged according to His external Word of scripture.
Kirk (posted after I unsuccessfully tried to post a response to his blog):
Jim Wright, why do you have to be so condescending? You come across as arrogant and smug. That does not help the conversation at all.
Me (my verbatim response, which was blocked):
I just saw this by someone else on Facebook, and had to laugh:
“Why is it that when I disagree with you, I am arrogant, stubborn, and full of pride, but when you disagree with me, you have revelation and have been taught by God?”
The existential voices who have dominated the organic/simple church community in the West over the last ten years have derailed what should have been a mighty, transformative move of God.
It is time to reclaim what is authentic and Biblical, and reject the rest.
It is time to move forward with a full embrace of the Living Word, and the authority of His written Word.
It is time to repent, and turn away from the existential voices that have misled and ensnared us.
It is time to truly hear what the Holy Spirit has to say, and has said, and to stop calling Him a liar.
It is time to submit our sensibilities to scripture and become the people, and the Church, He wants.
Finally, it is time once again to come under God’s authority, including scripture, and thereby regain the authority and dynamic spiritual power needed to transform lives and whole communities.
Let it begin now. Let it start here.