Prophecy vs. Closed Canon
Continuing on with the prophecy discussion, I want to take the time to dismantle a frequently-taken rabbit trail with regard to prophecy and "Scripture". I think the rabbit trail is a red herring. Specifically, I'm speaking of the idea that one who accepts that God still speaks through prophecy today must necessarily accept that prophetic words are on the level of written Scripture, and therefore must disagree with the idea of a "closed canon".
For those who are not familiar with the concept of a closed or open canon, the "canon" refers to that body of writings which are accepted by Christians as being the Bible. A "closed canon" means that no more writings will be added to our Bible, and an "open canon" means that, in theory at least, more writings could be discovered or composed which could be accepted as part of the Bible.
I really feel like this is a red herring for several reasons. Most compelling for me is that there are references in Scripture to the fact that God would speak to people of all ages and both genders, and yet those are not all recorded as Scripture. Joel prophecied in chapter 2 of the book that bears his name:
It will come about after this
That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,
Your young men will see visions.
Even on the male and female servants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
We know from Peter's sermon in Acts 2 that this prophecy was being fulfilled during his (Peter's) time period. (I'm not saying at this point whether or not that prophecy is still being fulfilled. That is a different issue than the main point being made here.) So, in this prophecy, we see that sons, daughters, old men, young men, male and female servants will all participate in the dreams, visions, and prophecies. Cross-reference Numbers 12:6 where God says that when a prophet is among us, God speaks to him through visions and dreams.
We also have recorded in Scripture at least two instances of people prophesying, and what they prophesied was not recorded in Scripture. The first example is Saul in 1 Samuel 10, where we find recorded that he, along with others, prophesied. But no written record is included there as to what the content of the prophecy was.
Another example is Anna, who was in the temple when Jesus was brought as a newborn baby. She is described in Luke 2 as a prophetess, and it mentions that she spoke to those there in the temple regarding the baby Jesus, but it does not record what she spoke. Even if we decide that what she spoke at that time was not a prophecy, the fact that she is called a prophetess and Scripture records no specific prophecy from her seems to support my argument that prophecy does not always equate to "canonical Scripture".
One could also look at Acts 21:8,9 which references four prophetesses who prophesied, yet does not record their prophecies. And, of course, we come back to the instructions in 1 Cor 14 regarding prophecy in the church, and to my knowledge, none of the books of the New Testament were written by members of the church in Corinth!
I must draw this post to a close, even though I haven't had a chance to move into more productive "positive" reasoning with regard to prophecy. But I hope that I have at least demonstrated that prophecy can exist outside of the canon of Scripture without forcing an "open" canon.
Until next time,