John Stott on non-authoritative NT prophecy

As far as I know John Stott was a cessationist through and through.  This makes his attached statement about  New Testament prophecy all the more credible and significant. It is worthy of our consideration because what is happening here is that a good biblical scholar is allowing the Bible to take him in the direction of something that could potentially undermine his position.  We all do well to approach the Bible with a similar reverence.

Of course there are degrees of charismaticism and cessationism as my previous spectrum post and discussions with Steve Camp and Doug Wilson demonstrate.

I am grateful to a friend who forwarded this quote and commend it to your attention. Stott argues here that there was indeed a non-authoritative version of prophecy in operation in NT times. Click on the image below to read it more clearly:

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About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock is a medical doctor, and a writer. Since 1995 he has been a member of Jubilee Church London which has sites in Enfield, Wood Green and Ilford. Adrian serves as part of Jubilee's leadership team alongside Tope Koleoso. Together they have written Hope Reborn - How to Become a Christian and Live for Jesus, published by Christian Focus. Adrian is also the author of Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything, published by Crossway. Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.


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  • Peter Kirk

    I don’t think it is quite true that “John Stott was a cessationist through and through”. Yes, he rejected the Pentecostal understanding of tongues and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I found this rather ambiguous quote at,d.cWc: “in Scripture the
    prophet is primarily neither the predictor of the future, nor the political
    commentator, nor the lively preacher, nor even the bringer of encouragement,
    but the mouthpiece of God, the organ of fresh revelation. It seems to be in that sense that Paul
    brackets ‘apostles and prophets’ as the most important of all charismata (Eph.
    2:20; 3:5; 4:11; I Cor. 12:28); and in that sense (whatever may be said about
    subsidiary meanings and ministries) we must say they no longer exist in the
    church. God’s way of teaching in today’s
    church is not by fresh revelation but by exposition of his revelation completed
    in Christ and in Scripture.” (Baptism & Fullness: The Work of the Holy
    Spirit Today, pp. 100-102) In other words, for Stott apostles and prophets have ceased but in other less authoritative senses gifts continue. Of course it would be better to look at the whole book.

    • Adrian Warnock

      I’d be interested in anybody who can dig out some more quotes from Stott to help us see what he believed more clearly.

  • Thomas Karrer

    I didn’t hear Stott once say this secondary level of prophecy was non authoritative or fallible. Maybe I missed something? He considers it less authoritative, perhaps, than the apostolic declarations; but only insofar as the Apostles needed not be tested every time they spoke, whereas these local prophets had to be tested in the light of already revealed and established truth. Cessationists wouldn’t disagree in principle with Stotts words.

    • T Freeman

      I think the point is that reporting any difference between the OT prophet and the NT is not something that cessationists generally acknowledge. They generally want to apply the all or nothing approach of the OT rather than the test and keep the good a la Paul.