I just read the following in what is an otherwise excellent sermon on Hell, Jonathan Edwards’ “Natural Men in a Dreadful Condition”–where he makes one of the clearest anti-prophetic, anti-visionary, anti-Charismatic statements I have ever read in Edwards:
“Take heed that you do not entertain a wrong notion of what it is spiritually to see Christ. If you do, you may seek that which God never bestows. Do not think that spiritually to see Christ is to have a vision of Him as the prophets had, to see Him in some bodily shape, to see the features of His countenance. Do not pray or seek for any such thing as this” (The Wrath of Almighty God, p. 60).
By this statement, Edwards is basically saying that praying or receiving a dream or, in this case, an open vision of Jesus is completely impossible nowadays. The only kind of “vision” allowable for Edwards, the Puritans, and Reformed, Presbyterian, and Baptists who follow his tradition, are to be the sort of inner vision of the heart in the mind. Nothing too supernatural or visionary: to speak like that is too Catholic saint like. Are you a Charismatic? a Pentecostal? Are you in any way influenced by the Prophetic Movement and the Kansas City Prophets? Then do not allow the Reformed tradition, the Puritan tradition that Edwards is from, to guide you in any sort of Charismatic or prophetic sense. Instead, look to Catholic saints (St. Patrick, St. Benedict, Hildegard of Bingen, St. Teresa of Avila), Catholic mystical theology, The Scots Worthies, John Wesley (early Methodists, Wesleyan Arminian), Charles G. Finney and William J. Seymour and Smith Wigglesworth (early Methodists, holiness, early Pentecostals), etc.
However, in the non-Charismatic sense, the Puritan-Reformed tradition needs to be upheld for its theology on Hell, salvation, holiness, and soteriology. (But I disagree with them about “once saved, always saved” and their usual rejection of miracles, or cessationism.)
If I were to chart a “history of the prophetic” (of visions, dreams, God’s voice, miracles, and prophets), then at this point, it would look like this:–traveling the course of church history from various Catholic saints, and then into the Arminian saints within the Protestant churches, and avoiding the Reformed and Puritan saints (not because they were not saints), but because they were not “prophets” in the visions and dreams sense, as Scripture says: “If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream” (Numbers 12:6). With the exception of John Bunyan (Visions of Heaven and Hell), I can’t think of any Puritan who ever made claims to prophetic visions, and accepted them as coming from God. Martin Luther was a reformer who prophesied the future, and prayed for healing, and exorcism. George Wishart and John Knox were also prophesiers of future events [see Thomas Boys’ The Suppressed Evidence.] Catholic and Arminian saints, however, have usually really no problem with such supernatural experiences, but pray for and usually accept them, according to 1 Corinthians 14.
My current Bible, Catholic, and Arminian saint-prophet listing:
John the Baptist
The Lord Jesus Christ
The Twelve Apostles
The Apostolic Fathers
St. Antony of Egypt
St. Patrick of Ireland (The Confession)
St. Benedict of Nursia (The Rule)
St. Francis of Assisi
Hildegard of Bingen (Scivias)
St. Ignatius of Loyola (Spiritual Exercises)
St. Teresa of Avila (Interior Castle, etc.)
St. John of the Cross (The Ascent of Mount Carmel)
John Bunyan (Visions of Heaven and Hell)
The Scots Worthies
William J. Seymour
David Wilkerson (The Vision)
John Wimber (Power Evangelism, etc.)
Mike Bickle (Growing in the Prophetic)