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.