Misrepresenting people when they have gone out of their way to allow critics to ask questions and given, in good faith, a clear and concise response, is furnishing a false report.
Pulpit&Pen’s Jeff Maples does this with an interview between Dr Michael Brown and Chris Rosebrough, who, despite being a critic of Dr Brown, conducted himself in the interview with integrity and peace, and was given excellent answers to his questions by Dr Brown in what was a civil and intelligent conversation.
Jeff Maples, however, uses this interview as a springboard to launch into a shameful attack on Dr Brown.
Maples starts off his article with the following assumption, which we should get out of the way at the outset.
‘Dr. Michael Brown is the go-to apologist for modern-day Montanists. Montanism is a heresy that arose early in church history, founded by its leader, Montanus, that believed, much like the charismatics of today, in ongoing prophecy and extra-biblical revelation.’
This is pure speculation and the opinion of Jeff Maples. There is no evidence that the charismatic move, which consists of churches and ministries from many different denominational backgrounds, has any connection whatsoever with Montanism, which was an ascetic Christian sect organised by the priest Montanus in the second century after Christ.
Who are the Montanists?
We do not know enough about Montanists to exactly understand their doctrine or beliefs, but there is no direct connection between Montanists and the charismatic move. It has been implied, but we cannot know for certain how similar their practices were, except that their basic tenets were orthodox for the time, and the key difference was their belief in prophecy and the Holy Spirit in their midst, which were not practiced in the catholic Church of the era.
It’s interesting to note that most of what we do know about them comes from those who were the critics of Montanus. They were never formerly excommunicated, and allowed to exist in the Carthage region, but put under pressure until their sect gradually dwindled. Tertullian said of their prophecy, “The new prophecies did not contain new doctrinal content, but mandated strict ethical standards”, which led him to be attracted to their devout lifestyle.
The claim that the NAR or the charismatics are Montanists is a piece of mischievous guesswork coming out of some of the Reformed critics, and is being particularly pushed by Pulpit&Pen. Expect it to be recycled amongst so-called discernment ministries (and non-ministries like the chookwatchers) in the future as one of their new memes and part of the hyper-NAR anti-charismatic narrative.
It should be noted that Reformed critics tend to group people under isms. They have to categorise everything and separate people into factions and sects so that they can pick away at them with their hardline opinions and Calvin inspired cessationist doctrine.
Dr Brown isn’t the go-to apologist for charismatics or the NAR. He would reject this. Maples made this up to suit his audience. Maples knows that Dr Brown is on record as saying he is not of NAR, nor a charismatic. He is a Messianic Pentecostal Christian.
Neither is there ‘ongoing prophecy and extra-biblical revelation’ coming out of either the NAR or charismatics. This is a mishandling of scripture by Maples and Pulpit&Pen, who suggest that New Testament prophecy is extra-biblical, when, in fact, it can only be considered valid if it confirms existing scripture and is not outside of scripture.
There is prophecy in the New Testament, as born out clearly by scripture, but it is not the same as the revelatory Apostles’ Doctrine which helped form the canon of scripture. Nor is it the equivalent of the Word that came through the Prophets of the Old Testament.
Theirs was fore-telling – predictive. New Testament prophecy is more akin to forth-telling – confirmative.
New Testament prophecy doesn’t form the Word of God. It comes from the Word of God. It doesn’t supersede the Word of God. It relies on the Word of God to confirm its authenticity, relevance and accuracy. If it cannot be ratified by existing scripture it is not New Testament prophecy.
Maples, a cessationist, could not understand this because he has been taught by people who reject the gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament for today. They say the work of the Spirit dwindled away gradually until the coming of the canon of scripture sometime in the fifth century after Christ, a claim for which, of course, there is no supporting scripture.
The Maples take on the radio interview
The interview with Rosebrough went extremely well considering Chris Rosebrough’s views, and Dr Brown gave excellent insight into the understanding of the apostolic, prophetic ministry in the modern Church. Maples, however, reports it this way…
‘As Chris Rosebrough called into his show, there was no dialogue, there were no real answers to Chris’ questions–it was basically an affirmative speech in defense of erroneous, unbiblical teachings while denying his association with false teachers.’
This is an outright fabrication of the truth. The interview, as I have already said, was conducted in a harmonious way. Chris was respectful in his approach, and Dr Brown was forthcoming with his response, and it was an extremely informative discussion.
There is much more in Jeff Maples’ article we could look at. He has major issues with several ministries, and hasn’t grasped the variety in the Body of Christ. His polemics are hostile. Rather than seek to work to understand and dialogue with other parts of the Body of Christ, he seeks to promote his own perspective in a hardline way as the only way, and is prepared to cause division to achieve this.
I am not writing from an ecumenical standpoint, but from the same song sheet as Paul who says that divisions and schisms are carnal. Having worshiped and worked with with Christians from evangelical, Anglican, Baptist, Pentecostal, charismatic and other denominations and movements I can say that God allows great variety within His Body, and, of course, this to be expected. Jesus has saved people from many walks.
When people seek to demonise other Christians for having another glimpse through the glowing prism of what is the established Word of God and attempt to call them heretics or cults because they do not have the same view they do themselves a disservice.
I understand that there are cults, and there are heretics, and we should test every spirit to see whether it is of God, but we need to be circumspect, wise and prudent with our discernment. We need to look at the Word of God and see whether what is being said, taught or practiced has any relevance to scripture. And we need to examine ourselves at all times.
The notion that the Holy Spirit’s gifts and manifestations have ceased is not found in scripture. He still performs some amazing acts, and we need to be amazed by God, because he is God.
It is likely that those Jeff Maples attacks are correct about this rather than he. Writing condemnatory articles about godly men like Dr Brown is not helpful to anything. Giving a false report is worse.
May God give Jeff eyes to see.