Monday, July 22, 2013

R.C. Sproul: There Is No True Prophecy Today

R.C. Sproul: There Is No True Prophecy Today

By Julio Severo
According to Charisma magazine, Calvinist theologian Dr. R.C. Sproul says he was “deeply immersed” in charismatic circles in the 1960s and that after receiving about 50 false prophecies, he said to himself, “You know, I’m going to live my life by what it says in the Word, because I know the Spirit has superintended that.”
So, with his bad experience with prophecy, Dr. Sproul concluded that there is no genuine gift of prophecy for today.
By coincidence, his personal bad experience aligns itself with a strong theological view in many Calvinist circles: the belief that God does not grant today supernatural gifts as healings, speaking in tongues, prophecies and other miracles. Cessationism. Apparently, all because they had bad experiences.
Have Calvinist theologians bad luck?
I see Calvinist churches ordaining gays, supporting abortion and boycotts against Israel, especially in Europe and America. Should I conclude that Calvinist churches are not genuine Christian churches?
I have often heard Bible misrepresentations by Jehovah’s Witnesses and similar groups. Should I conclude that the Bible leads to heresy?
Twenty years ago, I received a prophetic word in a prayer meeting in Brasilia. The word said that my name would be known throughout Brazil. I had never asked for it. Even after this prophetic experience, I did not begin to pray for it.
But it came to pass. Years later, I had a book published by the Brazilian branch of Bethany House Publishers. My book, “O Movimento Homossexual” (The Homosexual Movement). was written under prophetic inspiration.
Of course, I have heard misrepresentations of the gift of prophecy, in the same way I have heard misrepresentations of the Bible. My way to deal with misrepresentations is to know how to test and examine. After all, the Bible teaches us: “Do not despise prophecies, but a test everything.” (1 Thessalonians 5:20,21 ESV) It teaches to examine what is preached in the name of the Bible and what is prophesied in the name of God.
The cessationist stance has strong disagreements among Calvinists, because there are Calvinists who believe that God has never ceased His gifts.
Calvinist theologian Dr. J. Rodman Williams, in his “Renewal Theology: Systematic Theology from a Charismatic Perspective” (Zondervan), said, “God, the living God, is the God of revelation. He is ready to grant through His Spirit a spirit of revelation and wisdom for a deeper knowledge of Christ and also through revelation and prophecy to speak to His people. God has not changed in His desire to communicate directly with those who belong to Him.”
His stance open to the Holy Spirit is a stark contrast with the cessationist stance of Dr. Sproul. There are Calvinists in both camps.
I am not a Calvinist, but I am in Dr. Williams’ camp.
I find no Bible support to reject when God wants to direct or speak to us today through prophecy. I follow a “Sola Scriptura” which means “only the Bible,” but I fear that when some theologians mention “Sola Scriptura” (only Scripture) what they mean is “Sola Theologia” (only theology). Nothing else.
After years living only in Sweden, you begin to speak Swedish. After years living and believing only in God’s Word, you begin to live its reality, especially the reality of its Author. This is real “Sola Scriptura.” But after years living and believing only in theology, you begin to think and speak it. This is “Sola Theologia,” often misunderstood as “Sola Scriptura.”
Outside the arid fields of certain theological misinterpretations of God’s action and guidance, opportunities are vast for people open to Him and His living Word.
Years ago, I met George Otis. His father had met Ronald Reagan in his ranch in 1970. In the presence of singer Pat Boone, a charismatic Christian, he delivered a prophetic word to Reagan: “God will raise you up as president of the United States.” If Reagan had had bad luck, later he could also tell about his bad experiences with prophecy.
Yet, false prophecy never nullifies true prophecy. False Bible teaching never nullifies true Bible teaching. Bible misrepresentation or false prophecy is no excuse to annul God’s Word and prophetic guiding.
There is no president, in Brazil or other nation, that I admire most than Reagan. As a teen in the 1980s, I defended Reagan while my peers were taught by media to hate him. Poor Reagan was portrayed as the cause for all problems in the world. Yet, he was my hero. I had always felt something from God about him, and when I met Otis, I had a confirmation about my inklings.
In the words of Paul Kengor, Reagan was a “crusader” against communism. How could not I admire such brave man when I also fight the Marxist heresy in Brazil?
But I doubt that I would be able to nurture this admiration among Brazilian Calvinist apologists today.
In the Brazilian Protestant churches, the defense of socialist ideology has been spearheaded by Calvinist apologists. By contrast, the conservative resistance has been spearheaded by neo-charismatics, who are fearlessly fighting the abortion and sodomy agenda.
One of the leading Calvinist leaders in Brazil is Ariovaldo Ramos, who is a former director of World Vision in Brazil. He has publicly praised the late Venezuelan Marxist dictator Hugo Chávez, whom he said he met sometimes. Ramos has led efforts to criticize neo-charismatic leaders, including Pentecostal minister Marco Feliciano, who has been viciously attacked by the mainstream media in Brazil for his vocal stances against abortion and sodomy. Ramos is considered by the Brazilian evangelical Left as a “prophet” of the Theology of Integral Mission, the Protestant version of the Marxist Liberation Theology.
There are not many neo-charismatic theologians in Brazil. In fact, I do not know anyone. But there are many conservatives among them. On the other hand, there are many theologians in the Calvinist churches in Brazil, but not many conservative leaders. Should we conclude that Calvinist theology brings bad luck to churches?
Calvinist apologists in Brazil have spearheaded the fight to promote liberalism and socialism and, at the same time, the fight against neo-charismatics. Cessationism and Theology of Integral Mission are their passion, and the neo-charismatic growth is their hate. So should we conclude that Calvinism is false Christianity by their bad example in Brazil?
The largest Presbyterian denomination in America is ordaining homosexuals and committing other abominations. Should we conclude that Calvinism leads to apostasy?
You do not need prophetic guiding to understand that Marxism is a heresy. In Brazil, it is the most powerful heresy affecting the churches. Orestes Brownson (1803–1876), who was raised a Calvinist and converted himself to Catholicism, was probably the first Christian to warn America about the perils of the Marxist heresy.
If church leaders do not want to hear what God has to say in His own terms and conditions, they will see their flocks leaving, as Brownson did.
Regardless the bad experiences of Sproul and other Calvinists, God speaks today. If they gave more attention to God through His gifts, they would be more able to resist to the socialist onslaught against the church and society.
If you want to know this fight in Brazil, download my free English book here:
Portuguese version of this article: R.C. Sproul: Não há profecia verdadeira hoje
Spanish version of this article: R. C. Sproul: No existe profecía verdadera hoy
Source: Julio Severo in English:
Recommended Reading:


Julio Severo said...

This article was also published on FreeRepublic, and many of the comments below are drawn from there.

kingpins10 said...

Revelation 22:17 is clear that Calvin was wrong.

God doesn’t pick and choose who is saved. Jesus even tried to convert the hard hearted Pharisees. Why would he even waste his time?

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of The Lord shall be saved”. Romans 10:13

F15Eagle said...

Agree with almost everything you said there. He didn’t try to save any Pharisees except maybe for Nicodemus types. Others he called a generation of vipers because certain of them knew exactly Who He was. And still fought against him.

But yes, whosoever will. Certain of the Pharisees chose not to exercise their will.

the_Watchman said...

We have been discussing this very topic in our Sunday School class on theology. We delved into Dr. Wayne Grudem’s conjecture that N.T. prophecy is different from O.T. prophecy. It exists, but it must be tested. This is because, in his view, it can be flawed.

He contends that most evangelical congregants are not strict cessationists with regards to miraculous gifts; e.g., tongues, prophecy, and healing. Instead he categorizes them as “Open but cautious”.

Dogbert41 (Thy Kingdom come!) said...

Ive had a few prophetic dreams in my life. You know them when you have them. But they weren’t for the world, big historical events. Instead they were at important turning points in my life, dealing with relationships with other people, or the salvation of one I really cared about.

Gamecock (Member: NAACAC) said...

**He didn’t try to save any Pharisees except maybe for Nicodemus types.**


metmom (rFor freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore & do not submit again to a yoke of slavery) said...

Just because there is much so called prophecy out there that doesn’t come to pass, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t or can’t happen.

The bigger problem is people looking for sensationalism, either to have *words* spoken over them or more prideful, seeking the gift so they can speak over others.

My take on the matter is to live a life so that should God decide to use me to give a word to someone, He can use me to be that conduit. And that means dying to self, which I don’t see happening in all the people who chase after the gifts or manifestations.

sasportas said...

Amazing, 38 posts about Sproul [on FreeRepublic] and prophecy, and not a word said about him being a Preterist. Sproul believes all prophecy was fulfilled in 70 AD. Makes no difference, whether Bible prophecy or from individuals who claim the spiritual gift of prophecy, its all false to him.

Anonymous said...

Brother Julio,

You seem to be muddying the waters conflating several different issues with the cessationist position of most Calvinists. Certainly, some of Calvinistic denominations advance and align themselves with Marxist positions, pro-sodomite, and pro-abortion agendas. Any denomination, regardless of label, that is pro-sodomite or pro-abortion is apostate. Pro-Marxist denominations would be in deep heresy.

As a Christian charismatic, I have been speaking in tongues and prophesying for over forty years. I have also received a M.Div. from a Calvinistic seminary. I have met R.C. Sproul and over the years have attended several of his Ligonier Conferences which have reformed pastors from across the spectrum—Presbyterian, Reformed, Baptist, etc. While I am saddened by his cessationist view, I can attest Dr. Sproul is a genuine man of God and has a powerful teaching ministry, apart from his cessationist error. I think it is dishonest to level guilt by association by lumping R.C. Sproul with Presbyterian churches who advocate sodomy and abortion as Dr. Sproul soundly rejects those abominations. Judging by your article, Sproul's turning away from his once openness to the gifts speaks loudly to the spiritual state of most charismatic churches in the U.S. Further, evangelicals must realize that 'Sola Scriptura' undergirding the Reformation unequivocally rejected any sort of 'extra-biblical' revelation, as one noted theologian commented that the doctrine of the Spirit more fundamentally divides Protestants and Catholics than even the doctrine of The Word of God.

Having been involved with charismatic churches for decades, I can attest to the preponderance of false prophets and false teachers within the Charismatic movement and either weak-kneed or enabling pastors who afford them pulpits or lack the courage to publicly rebuke them. Further, there is a notable lack of the fear of the Lord with most of these churches demonstrated by their cavalier attitude in prophesy (definitely not recognizing the most severe judgment for false prophecy—executing the false who turns people away from God (Deut 13:1-5) and further by their blatant disobedience to the Lord's commands (1 Cor 14) all speaking in tongues audibly usually all at once, and not two or three by course each followed by interpretation of tongues. Actually, a Calvinistic theologian, Prof. D.A. Carson has written the most convincingly continuationist text, Showing the Spirit, with its superb exegesis of 1 Corinthians 12-14. Wayne Grudem, another Calvinist, has written the classic, Systematic Theology, arguing for the continuationist position.

Finally, to use political categories in classifying theological positions, e.g., 'evangelical left' does not advance the cause of Christ. If any brother is in error, correct him on that error without fabricating non-Biblical categories in which to shove him.

Arlis (.) said...

I love R.C. Sproul, but here he is contradicting his OWN THEOLOGY.

Why? Because he believes “Sola scriptura”, he must accept the word of God on its own with no supporting outside evidence.

On the other hand, HE IS SAYING HIS EXPERIENCE TRUMPS SCRIPTURE! Never! This is the error of a majority of pastors/teachers - they draw their interpretation of scripture from their experience. “My experience confirms scripture to be true.” THIS ITSELF IS ERROR!

Because it places my experience as a higher authority than scripture.

Nowhere in scripture is a time when prophecy ends discussed other than the end of I Corin. 13, which refers to “when the perfect comes” - i.e., when Christ returns and His kingdom is set up.

I too have heard 100x more “flesh originated” prophecies than I have real ones - but that is due to the lack of spiritual maturity in the church - not because scripture teaches it.

My experience may TOTALLY contradict scripture.

Yet scripture is yet true.

PS: This is a common error of most pastors/teachers who after teaching a truth from scripture, then attempt to “prove” the validity of that particular truth from their own experience. “I know it’s true because I’ve experienced it!” Sorry, this is error. Scripture is above and a higher authority than your experience. By about a million miles.

Hoodat said...

Great, just what we need. Yet another self-professed Christian placing limits on God.


Matt Barber said...

Outstanding, Julio! Great work, brother...

Dr Michael L Brown said...

My dear brother,

I had no idea about your charismatic background – and so, as the author of the article you cited here, I read your article with great interest.

May God’s fire spread through your country, bringing a Jesus-based, moral and cultural revolution.


Donna Chipman said...

This was a very disappointing article. The gifts did cease;
it is most specifically stated in scripture. Prophecy today is like esp/mind reading and is wrong. It's the stuff
of psychics and dangerous to dabble in. I know, because I went though several years of charismatic insanity
and it changed my husband for the worse and destroyed our marriage.

There is no new revelation from God - that is also in scripture. God does speak to us today, but by an inner nudging of the Holy Spirit and not fortune tellers.

To chastise Dr. Sproul for choosing the word of God over emotional experience borders on blasphemy.

Donna Riegler

Julio Severo said...

Dear anonymous brother (or sister)

You thought that I seemed “to be muddying the waters conflating several different issues with the cessationist position of most Calvinists.” No, no. This has a very specific and real context. I am a Brazilian and in Brazil MOST of the Calvinist apologists, because of their cessationist position, attack neo-charismatics (neo-Pentecostals) and, at the same time, advocate the Theology of Integral Mission.

So, in the Brazilian context Pentecostals and neo-charismatics, who comprise most of evangelicals in Brazil, are attacked by cessationist Calvinist apologists who advocate liberalism and socialism. You should read my book to understand this reality.

You said, “Certainly, some of Calvinistic denominations advance and align themselves with Marxist positions, pro-sodomite, and pro-abortion agendas.” This is not only “some.” We are talking also about PCUSA, the largest Presbyterian denomination in America. And, as you pointed, there are also some other Calvinist denominations in the same hellish direction. This is a very serious problem and, in your words, apostasy.

This huge problem should allow no room for serious Calvinist leaders to get worried and involved in their personal views about what God is or is not today allowed to do by their theology. They should apply themselves to this most serious problem.

At least in Brazil, these theologians are so worried about the freedom of the Holy Spirit that they have no time to attack the real threat: leftist Calvinists in their midst sowing hellish seeds.

They do not criticize these lefties. But they criticize abundantly Assembly of God leaders, Pentecostal leaders and neo-charismatic leaders.

They have small time to tackle Marxism in their own midst, but they have plenty of time to tackle what they see as problems in other churches: prophecy, spiritual gifts, etc.

You are right about R.C. Sproul being wrong in his cessationism. I am also sad. I watched today a YouTube clip where Sproul was mocking speaking in tongues. Oh, my God! Why does not he come to Brazil to mock liberal Calvinist apologists who, like him, love to mock speaking in tongues?

Brother (or sister), I know that you have a real interest about what you are writing. Yes, as you I have experience for years in these issues. I have seen many abuses. Where are humans, there are errors. But I have seen more spiritual growth when the Holy Spirit is given freedom to help, heal and build people.

Julio Severo said...

I have attended for three years a non-charismatic Calvinist church from the largest Presbyterian denomination in Brazil. This denomination is considered the most traditional Calvinist denomination in Brazil and yet, I could help people there to get delivered from evil spirits. These people used to go to witches when sick. There were leaders who were Masons in the church. Even the minister was a Mason. In election time, they voted for Socialists, and I explained to them the perils of doing it.

I acquired much experience in this church. I saw much oppression. Yet, their minister always taught them to reject spiritual gifts and avoid neo-charismatics. They mocked neo-charismatics, exactly as I watched Sproul doing on YouTube.

They mock what they need.

Sproul should be mocking PCUSA. Presbyterians in Brazil should occupy the time they use mocking and attacking neo-charismatics to cry for the Marxist infiltration in their midst.

I have the Systematic Theology of Grudem. Right now, I am using it to write an article where I defend a friend of Grudem who was attacked by a Presbyterian leader in Brazil because the friend of Grudem said that God grants prophecy today. This leader is cessationist.

You said, “Finally, to use political categories in classifying theological positions, e.g., 'evangelical left' does not advance the cause of Christ.”

I do not see the Marxist infiltration among American and Brazilian Presbyterians as a “political” thing. As Orestes Brownson, I see it as heresy. And this heresy, which is predominant in Brazil, is not advancing the cause of Christ. This is why I am fighting so hard for the truth and against this heresy.

Julio Severo said...

Donna, you could say that the church in Corinth was a “charismatic insanity,” and it was, but Apostle Paul did not enforce a cessationist solution to them. He pointed that he had more gifts, including prophecy, than they had. And he helped them improve their “charismatic insanity.”

In the place of Paul, I am sure that you and Sproul, with no delay, and with no consultation with God, would enforce a ban on charismatic gifts.

But I was shocked by your comment: “To chastise Dr. Sproul for choosing the word of God over emotional experience borders on blasphemy.”

See the Lord Jesus Christ speaking: “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” (Matthew 12:31 ESV)

You can blaspheme the Holy Spirit, and this is a sin. But you cannot say that to disagree with the theological views of Dr. Sproul about his bad experiences borders on blasphemy, because he is not the Holy Spirit. You cannot also equal his view with God’s Word. He is not the Apostle Paul.

About Matthew 12:31, John Darby commented that to speak against and blaspheme the Holy Ghost is to attribute to Satan an exercise of spiritual power which is of God.

This is real blasphemy.

To equal the actions and manifestations of the Holy Spirit to psychics falls in this category. I am from Brazil. Millions of Brazilian Christians have spiritual gifts. But your personal views put these millions of Christian on par with spiritualists moved by demons!

In the church of Corinth, you could say the same thing about them and even accuse their leader, Apostle Paul, of Great Psychic, because he had more gifts and spiritual manifestations than his “charismatic insane” congregation.

To blasphem the Holy Spirit is effectively to attribute to Satan an exercise of spiritual power which is of God. You have done it about prophecy and millions of Christians in Brazil who has this gift. They are not psychics.

That is, you equaled them with demonic people. Your equaled the Spirit who use them with evil spirits.

I did not use similar words about my views opposed to Sproul’s views.

To disagree with Dr. Sproul’s views is not blasphemy nor near of it. After all, we are not in the Middle Ages where criticism to the pope’s views was considered “blasphemy.” Religious tradition has a tendency to repeat itself, but we have to reject the idolatry around religious authorities and their views. Their views are never the direct views of God, even when they have, or not, a gift of prophecy. They are never equal with God’s Word.

But you made Sproul bigger than a prophet, almost equal with God. In this sense, I understand that you see “almost blasphemies” in views opposed to his views.

This is idolatry.

Julio Severo said...

Jesus was a storm of controversy especially for the theologians of his time, who often accused him of “demon possession” because they attributed to Satan his exercise of spiritual power which came from God. To them, the defense of truth (specifically, their theological truth) should be made above all, even above the Son of God living and working wonders in their midst. It is very good to be with Jesus to cause controversies in the eyes of these and other theologians. But I am worried about the side where Sproul is and if a wonder-working Jesus TODAY would not be a controversy for him. In Brazil, while Calvinists who love Sproul have tolerated virulent leftism in their midst, Pentecostals and charismatics are growing under the criticism of these Calvinists and of the complete intolerance of his and their cessationist theology: