The publisher’s website describes this book as follows – “This updated, comprehensive work by a respected New Testament scholar brings new understanding of the gift of prophecy and suggests how to enjoy it without compromising the supremacy of Scripture” – and they are not wrong. There is no doubt that this is a book that should be read by every serious student of the Bible interested in understanding how some can believe in modern day prophecy AND the sufficiency of Scripture. Wayne Grudem is widely respected as a systematic theologian, and applies his great wisdom and insight to this controversial subject. Some of the endorsements say it all:
“Careful, thorough, wise, and to my mind, convincing.” (J. I. Packer)
“. . . a fresh, biblically sound, readable contribution . . . its depth of scholarship, pastoral solidity, and cautions against abuses are special strengths. Highly recommended.” (Vern S. Poythress)
“If Grudem’s convincing thesis could be heard, a new path of dialog could perhaps be opened up in the Christian community. The research, clarity, and typical Grudem candor continue to make this the finest book on the subject to date.” (L. Russ Bush)This book really is a book I can strongly commend, and I do not think its arguments have yet been adequately answered in the years since it has been released. If we can all agree to define prophecy as not authoritative, then the problems caused in connection with the canon of Scripture by some cessationists evaporate.
Grudem outlines the difference he perceives between prophecy in the Old and New Testaments. He certainly seems to make a very strong case for the existence of prophecy that was not copied down and included in the Bible, and that prophecy in the New Testament was to be tested and clearly not taken as an authoritative communication of God’s words.
The very existence of the Corinthian church, and the fact that Paul clearly didn’t want them all to just stop prophesying and get on and listen to his letters, is a strong argument for the absence of any concept of an earthly cessation of this gift of prophecy in Paul’s mind. Grudem spends several pages teaching us what 1 Corinthians has to tell us today – something few cessationists seem to do very often in my observation!
He also brings to bear teaching from the rest of the New Testament that supports his view of prophecy – which is that it is non-authoritative and valid throughout the church age. He also outlines what can be known from the Bible about prophecy.
To a charismatic, only the practical advice section seems a bit less relevant as it is written more with the traditional church seeking a new openness to the Bible in mind. A wide range of appendixes fill out the book, however and are all very helpful.
Of all the resources that I have read on this subject, this one is probably the best when it comes to prophecy – if you only want to buy one book on the charismatic issue, buy this one!