12 November 2005

Let's review the discussion so far:

(because someone asked):
cessationism: the belief that the miraculous gifts such as healing, tongues, prophetic revelation, and supernatural knowledge pertained to the apostolic era only, served a purpose that was unique to the era before the New Testament was complete, and passed from use before the canon of Scripture was closed.

continuationism: the assumption that the miraculous gifts are normative and have continued in uninterrupted operation since Pentecost.

Can a bad tree bring forth good fruit?Careful readers ought to have noticed (because I have emphasized this fact repeatedly) that I have not yet posted a single argument in favor of cessationism. I really haven't dealt with the issue yet at all.

I have pointed out how influential and audacious certain false prophets have become—especially among those who dominate the world of charismatic media. I have decried the extreme gullibility of people who are driven by a hunger for "fresh revelation." I have suggested that such gullibility breeds sinful superstition. And I have pointed out that there is a valid and vital distinction that needs to be to be made between "miracles" and God's providential control over all that He has made.

But so far, I have not offered a single argument in favor of cessationism. If the only thing you read were my blogposts on the subject so far (ignoring what has been said about me in the comment-threads and forgetting for a moment where I work) there would be no reason for anyone to assume that I am a cessationist. Despite several commenters' baiting me on the issue, I haven't yet jumped into that debate.

Magic 8-BallAs a matter of fact, I would like to reiterate something I said earlier: When I brought up this subject of prophetic-utterances-gone-bad in the first place, I wasn't trying to pick a fight with my charismatic readers. I originally had no intention of even getting into the issue of cessationism. I think I have much more in common with my "Reformed non-cessationist" brethren than I have with liberal cessationists. And oddly enough, the main targets I was originally planning to take on were non-charismatics like Henry Blackaby and the Gothardites.

Let me be as clear as possible. You could boil down everything I have tried to say since the beginning of this series into about four simple points. Regardless of your position on cessationism, it seems to me that you ought to be able to affirm these four points:

  1. There is a monstrous potential for evil in blithely assuming that all your private imaginations are supernatural promptings that come to you as divine revelations from the Holy Spirit.
  2. Those who order their lives by such an assumption are being willfully gullible and sinfully superstitious, and they have no biblical warrant for the practice. In fact, such a mindset is hostile to the biblical concept of discernment.
  3. Claiming God told you something when in fact He did not is a profoundly wicked kind of presumption whose fruits are always evil. In fact, it was a capital crime under Moses' law.
  4. That kind of presumption, paired with a declining concern about biblical doctrine, has unleashed an untold amount of mischief in the visible church over the past century.

Looking at the issues dispassionately, I can't imagine why even the most devoted Reformed continuationist (assuming he has some biblical scruples and a genuine concern for sound doctrine) would object to any point I have made so far. And yet the subject has already provoked some of the harshest disagreement and bitterest feelings we've seen in the comment threads here at PyroManiac since The Great Comic-Book Apocalypse of the Summer of 2005.

Worse, some of my Reformed-charismatic readers want to jump past the weighty issues I have raised and debate cessationism instead. Some have actually scolded me for not posting any biblical proof-texts in favor of cessationism—as if the truth of any of the above points hinged on a biblical argument in favor of cessationism.

I think that fact speaks volumes about the inevitable tension that arises between continuationism and biblical discernment. In effect, what the continuationists seem to be saying is: "Yeah, yeah, OK, false prophecies are bad. Over-gullibility is a problem. We can manage those things. They are incidental issues. The real danger (or a far greater danger) lies in the opposite direction."

That has been the knee-jerk response of many Reformed continuationists who have commented here and on their own blogs. As if a strict commitment to the absolute sufficiency of Scripture posed a greater and more immediate threat to the church in our generation than the horde of false prophets that are rising up everywhere.

Nothing less than the Reformation principle of sola Scriptura is at stake here, and I suggest that anyone who truly thinks cessationism poses a greater threat than the proliferation of false prophecies has already effectively abandoned the formal principle of the Reformation.

(One commenter even seemed to suggest that my opinion on these matters isn't worth hearing unless I have received some new revelation from the Holy Spirit. Wow.)

All of this has convinced me that it is indeed impossible and impractical to try to divorce the issue of bogus prophecies from the problem of cessationism—not because cessationists are unwilling to deal with one issue apart from the other, but because continuationists are incapable of doing so.

As a matter of fact, in the real world, the two issues do intersect all too often, because of many leading Reformed-charismatics' unfortunate failure to practice biblical discernment consistently and responsibly. For example, Sam Storms lent his considerable credibility to the Kansas City Prophets for years, even after it was clear they were false prophets. Wayne Grudem has likewise shown an undue tolerance of prophetic abuses in the Vineyard movement. Jack Deere renounced cessationism and within a few short years virtually engineered the spiritual train wreck that culminated in the public disqualification of Paul Cain. I think it's fair to point out that the track record on these issues ought to be an embarrassment to my Reformed continuationist brethren—even if we limit the discussion to the fruit of their very best teachers.

Now, before someone parrots the standard line, let me just say I realize that's still not an exegetical argument for cessationism. Hey, I'll go even further: it's technically no argument for cessationism at all. But it is a reminder of the very serious and profound truth of Matthew 7:15-17:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

I admit that one of the things that concerns me most about Reformed non-cessationism is that when you trace the movement back to its roots, it stems from a bramble bush, not a fruit tree. And I rather suspect that fact is one of the chief reasons when I started talking about the disastrous effects of the current epidemic of false prophets, my Reformed charismatic friends came out of the woodwork spoiling for a fight.

Phil's signature


David A. Carlson said...

All of this has convinced me that it is indeed impossible and impractical to try to divorce the issue of bogus prophecies from the problem of cessationism—not because cessationists are unwilling to deal with one issue apart from the other, but because continuationists are incapable of doing so

This is true of many christians in whatever hobbyhorse area they spend their lives justifying

chamblee54 said...

Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
My oh my. If the bible is used for evil purposes, does that make it a "corrupt tree"?
Or, is that just an effect of treating a book written by man as "the word of god"?
And why do arguments about c vs. c have to be biblical? Why can't we just use the senses that god gave us to see what goes on in the world?
Just for the record, I think "gifts of the holy spirit" happen all the time. I do agree that claims for these "gifts" should be taken with great caution, and are all too often used to lead the (dare I say it) STUPID followers into trouble. But then, many unscrupulous people use the bible for their own twisted, selfish, and hateful purposes.
Even if you accept the bible as the word of god, you have to trust the person reading to you from it.
I am going to a chili cook off now. I will be looking for the replies to this when I get back.

Jacob Hantla said...

From my blog post in response:

After shaking up the whole blogosphere, Pyromaniac points out that he hasn't even blogged on his stance in the cessationism v continuationism debate. His blog actually does a great deal to clear the air after many of the knee-jerk responses that have flown from both sides of the debate after he mentioned it. He points out that his comments were directed toward the "prophetic-utterances-gone-bad" group... He even makes the point (which I think is a gross understatement), "I think I have much more in common with my 'Reformed non-cessationist' brethren than I have with liberal cessationists."...

The problem, it seems to me, is that the reformed noncessationalists (Possibly typified best by John Piper and CJ Mahaney) are responding to statements hopefully not made about them. And Pyro and many of the cessationists lump the failures of those who charismatically run, Biblically unchecked, to a disastrous end, and they project these failures on those who are undeserving of them. Pyro even states toward the end of his recent post, "I think it's fair to point out that the track record on these issues ought to be an embarrassment to my Reformed continuationist brethren." Arminiast could level similar attacks at Calvinists...Dave Hunt already has. Cessationist could get blown out the water if we show the complete emotionless, passionless, orthodoxy of some of its followers. Yes a tree is known by it's fruit, and there are surely some bad trees in both the cessationist orchard and the continualist orchard. But we mustn't condemn the entire orchard based on a few bad trees.

Let's stop being reactionary on this point; let's stop building straw-man examples out of a few from each side. I am happy that in recent history the gospel has become center in so many peoples' minds. Cessationist and continualist brothers benefit much for the leaders on all sides; Together for the Gospel is a great example of this. Let's remember that in all of this, God's glory is at stake, and the Gospel must be central, guiding and tempering our responses to one another. Please let's not assume motives, let's not generalize, and let's keep the discussion as much as is possible either very specific to individuals (Pyro, since it has become obvious that in most people's minds Mahaney and Piper are the exemplars, if discussing this group in sweeping manner, make sure that comments apply to them as well and point that out) or to Scripture.

David A. Carlson said...

Why is does the internet bring out all those believers who really exhibit the three most important attributes of christians - you know - hate, single mindedness and despair? But the most important of those is hate.

Paul said that in Corinthians, right?

Phil Johnson said...

Jacob: "Please let's not assume motives, let's not generalize"

I don't think I have.

"and let's keep the discussion as much as is possible either very specific to individuals."

I do think I have done that—if anything, to a fault.

Incidentally, my remark about how "the track record on these issues ought to be an embarrassment to my Reformed continuationist brethren" was not devoid of context. It had specific reference to Wayne Grudem, Samuel Storms, and Jack Deere, who in my judgment do not have clean hands when it comes to the various false-prophecy catastrophes that have been spun off out of the Vineyard, the Kansas City Prophets, and all their daughter movements.

"Pyro, since it has become obvious that in most people's minds Mahaney and Piper are the exemplars, if discussing this group in sweeping manner, make sure that comments apply to them as well and point that out."

I'm not sure what "this group" refers to. Whenever I have mentioned Sovereign Grace Ministries I have been almost completely positive about them. I don't think I have said anything critical or otherwise about Bethlehem Baptist Church, but my remarks about Piper have been overwhelmingly positive, too.

If I speak of "Reformed charismatics" in general and their movement, however, I think it's fair to critique what some of the leading voices in the broader movement have said and done (especially in a context when I specifically say I'm talking about Grudem and Storms). I shouldn't have to exempt Piper and Mahaney formally and explicitly every time I have a criticism of someone else on their side of the cessationism issue, nor should I be required to limit my criticisms of the excesses of other Reformed charismatics to the practices endorsed by Piper and Mahaney.

I think most readers do recognize that my criticism of Oral Roberts doesn't apply in every detail to Wayne Grudem, and my criticism of Grudem may have no relevance to C. J. Mahaney. If there's really any confusion on that issue, I can't see how it's owing to anything I have posted.

There's also no way I can read everyone's mind. I frankly am not sure where John Piper might differ with Sam Storms or Wayne Grudem's on the praxis of giving credence to this or that prophet. If there's confusion over that question, as long as I'm not responsible for causing the confusion, I don't see how it's my duty to explain how these men differ on specific details.

I'd love for someone close to one or all of them to chime on the question, though.

David: Your remarks about "hate" have the ring of someone who is simply keen on finding any kind of criticism to lob in amongst a group of Christians. Where do you imagine that you detect "hate" in anyone's comments here?

Future scattershot remarks like that, made without any kind of documentation, will be deleted, because they violate rule 2 of my blog.

Deathrow Bodine said...

Okay Phil,

You have really gone and done it now. You've jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire by slandering the Gothardites ... because you know that if you make a negative reference about a Gothardite, then it must be slander. Furthermore, your Christianity itself needs to be questioned. Perhaps your hell bound attitude explains your obsession with fire.

[Having exhausted his sarcastic spirit, Deathrow Bodine wanders away ponderin' if his Bloodhound, Hank, has the gift of prophesy since he always knows where the 'coons are hidin'.]

Bhedr said...

The whole Catch 22 of this debate is that the very methods non-cessassionists use to prove continuance are the very methods that one must use to refute. Essentially you must use the methods of prophecy to disprove it. IOW, you must go beyond the realm of Scripture. My friend Doxo on his blog brings the argument, and it is true...there is no scripture that proves cessationism! so in order to believe it, you too must be a prophet. Proverbs 30:6 should bind us all whatever view you hold. It should also be the foundational verse and fulcrum for this debate.

Jerry Wragg said...

Jacob -
The misapplication of truth that turns a cessationist into an "emotionless, passionless" believer is the same error that makes continuationists undiscerning. Neither has allowed the sanctifying grace of scripture to become deeply rooted in their convictions enough to produce the balanced (discerningly passionate)fruit of the Spirit. Continuationism doesn't automatically lead to superstitious gullibility any more than believing the gifts have ceased necessarily results in "emotionless" Christianity. We seem to be working through the issue from wrong assumptions. Continuationists must stop assuming that their view of revelation produces a more authentic worship and dynamic sanctification...and Cessationists must stop assuming that their perspective keeps the church from all things bizarre. I've known stoic charismatics and strange non-charismatics...this proves nothing!One thing is certain, God has determined what the church should be doing with His divine enablements, and the answers rest with Him in His word! We must diligently study to show ourselves unashamed workmen. Phil's post was merely an attempt to expose the dangers of unverifiable, unrepeatable "miracles" at the hands of those who use such alleged happenings to deceive. Quite frankly, he's right, not only about that, but also about the latent continuationist angst simmering under the surface. You'd think he poked someone in the eye with insults about their own personal, dynamic, passionate, intimate walk with Christ.
By the way, having concluded my own lengthy study of the issue I am a committed cessationist whose biblical convictions run as deep as my dearest continuationist friends. We remain equally concerned about eachother's discernment and the soundness of our respective conclusions. They, however, have never wondered about my passion for Christ.

Thanks Phil for your ever-lucid posts.

Jeremy Weaver said...

I was actually hoping you would give us some biblical reasons for cessationism. I think you would deal with it honestly and actually hoped that you would be able to change my mind. I stated earlier on my blog that I do not like my own convictions on this issue but unless I find a biblical reason for saying that they have not continued then I have to assume that they have not ceased.
Let me also state that I am a non-cessationist not because of any experience that I have had (I haven't experienced any of the gifts other than what I believe is the gift of tongues, and it's not jibberish, it's spanish), but because of what I believe to be a reading of Scripture that is free of the assumption of cessationism.

So, anyway, could you please write something about it?


Jeremy Weaver said...


Phil Johnson said...


I have already said that I do intend to deal with the cessationism issue before I drop this subject, but I'm not going to leapfrog over everything else I wanted to say just so we can get there quickly.

I think it's a terrible mistake to imagine that if an issue cannot be shown exegetically from a single passage of Scripture, there's no real "biblical" basis for it.

Applying the standard of "proof" some folks want for cessationism to the doctrine of the Trinity would result in mobs of Arians and Sabellians.

And that, frankly, is part of my concern here. The same "shields down" approach to discernment that has swollen the ranks of the continuationists (together with the virtual abandonment of systematic theology as a discipline) is already undermining rank-and-file church members' commitment to the historic Christology of the church. (Hence the popularity of Phillips, Craig, and Dean, and the major display of T.D. Jakes Books I saw in the Moody Bible Institute bookstore earlier this year.) If every point of doctrinal controversy either has to be solved easily by demanding a list of iron-clad, irrefutable proof-texts—or else relegated to the realm of indifferent matters—then Christianity itself is in trouble.

I think a more careful, systematic approach is the right way to examine the cessationism issue.

BTW, you realize, of course, that if you press the proof-text argument, I'm going to ask you to produce a list of proof-texts proving that the canon is complete and the one we have is correct. So you might want to get to work on that, because the issues are essentially the same.

Bhedr said...

Which is why Catholics depend on Rome to give them their answers on Canon. Isn't it Ironic that we depend on the Holy Spirit alone for this and yet we stop Him there? Neither Phil nor Benny Hinn should be our schoolmaster here.

Sorry Phil you are no Benny Hinn, I hope you don't take offense here because biblicaly you are very sound and you have a loyal heart for God that bleeds through in all you write. I am just say this because unlike Doxo I am not looking for you to talk me in or out of what is true.

Sorry Doxo I hope you didn't take offense....? Phew I can't go on like this. See you later guys!

candy said...

Phil...I think this is a well written and thought out post. I agree in that I am perplexed that both Wayne Grudem and Sam Storms would continue to be associated with movements that are clearly and blithly moving towards what I consider to be apostasy. When the scriptures warn about Satan masquerading as an angel of light...I think of the Signs and Wonders movement. I think the defenses come up though, when one is addressed in a general manner as "those continuists" or "those cessationists". There are degrees of both. I think Jacob Hantla makes some good points pertaining to this issue. I am thankful that there are wonderful charismatic reformed men who are orderly, sober minded, and passionate about God, and who sometime in their walk, awoke to the Doctrines of Grace. I am also blessed to see reformed men in a previously stodgy, intellectual, and passionless position awaken to joyful and passionate praise and worship towards God. I see a good move towards fellowship and comradeship. I see two moves actually. The Church is split in two. One moving rapidly towards "signs and wonders, ecumenism, and apostasy, and one moving rapidly to the blessed Word of God, grace and sovereignty. I think the day will come when issues much greater than we have all debated recently will command our thoughts and prayers as we labor over Truth in a world that has completely and utterly rejected the Gospel.

candy said...

Doxy states.......hondatiemybowtiemitsubishitoyotacorolla

oh my goodness Doxy...You dare speak in tongues on this post!!

Chuck said...

Personally, I'm waiting for Wrigley to weigh in on this issue. I haven't been steered wrong by a beagle yet...

brad said...

I really like this post. I a reformed continualist have a post about the KC Prophets. I spent many years in the Vineyard and left because of the issues you bring up. The post is here:
21st Century Reformation: Weird or Winsome - My Expereince with the KC Prophetic Movement

Therefore, your point about continualists not being able to seriously critic and discern false prophecy is not true in my case and I know of others. Here is the thing. I think learning how to correct pastorally is so very neeed in the charismatic churches.

In the Vineyard, Don Williams came out against the KC "prophets" very early on for being legalistic. He called them heretics in 1992-ish.

Don Williams is decidely reformed and good example of the value of theology in the Charismatic chaos. Though admittedly, I haven;t heard Don Williams preach in over 10 years.

Mike said...

BTW, you realize, of course, that if you press the proof-text argument, I'm going to ask you to produce a list of proof-texts proving that the canon is complete and the one we have is correct."

Amazingly, my Roman friends give me the very same nonsense when I press them on their biblically non-definsible positions. Maybe we aren't as reformed as we would like to pretend we are.

Nathan White said...

You make an interesting point regarding the evil purposes the Bible has been used for. Certainly many of evil men have taught gross error using their twisted interpretation of scripture. In fact, I can think of several evil ‘ministries’ that grossly misuse such sound doctrine such as the 5 points of Calvinism (just check out the Spurgeon archive under ‘really really bad theology’). So your point, which I believe is that we cannot throw out the non-cessationist just because there are some who misuse it, holds some truth to it.

However, consider the fact that when the Bible is misused we have something objective to go back to. The scriptures do not change, and anybody who questions a use of scripture can always go back to the written word and say ‘but that’s NOT what it says!’ On the other hand, leaving miraculous gifts as a probability leaves no objective truth to fall back on. If a ‘prophet’ or some other teacher starts proclaiming the voice he hears in his head there is nothing objective to go back to and say ‘nope, you’re a phony’-unless of course he blatantly violates the written word. So I believe Phil isn’t using the good tree/bad tree argument to base his entire belief system on, but rather that there is a much, much greater possibility to be led astray by those who deem themselves privileged to speak for God –for discerning the truth from error becomes a complete shot in the dark. This coupled with the vast majority of non-cessationist who do fall into error generally will lead the young or immature Christian astray when these ‘gifts’ are accepted as active.

The lack of objective truth and the lack of accountability make it very tough to discern who’s speaking for God and who isn’t. The use of the Word, however, is easy to hold one accountable to.

Brad said...

1)There is a monstrous potential for evil in blithely assuming that NONE of your private imaginations are supernatural promptings from the Holy Spirit.
2)Those who order their lives by such an assumption are being willfully gullible...
3)Claiming God DID NOT tell you something when in fact He did is a profoundly wicked kind of presumption whose fruits are always evil. In fact, it sent Jonah on a 3-day fishing trip.
4)That kind of presumption, paired with an increasing concern about human intellectual biblical doctrine over the NT-prescribed Spiritual pursuit, has unleashed an untold amount of lifelessness in the church over its history.

The reason for passion on this is: enough is enough already. Produce spiritual life of your own instead of feeding off denying others'. I'm going to start obligatory criticizing of my wife regularly/weekly and then accuse her of picking a fight.

rustypth said...


Amen! You make some excellent points - points which all Christians should be in agreement.

As we say in #prosapologian: your blog r0x0rz! (I hope I don't sound like an even bigger geek now) =)

Stephen Dunning said...

cessationism: the belief that the miraculous gifts such as healing, tongues, prophetic revelation, and supernatural knowledge pertained to the apostolic era only, served a purpose that was unique to the era before the New Testament was complete, and passed from use before the canon of Scripture was closed.

Just a point on this definition. Some of us who would call themselves cessationist would want to restrict the definition to gifts of revelation (prophecy, tongues & interpretations, knowledge, etc.). We hold that God can and does do miracles (by definition, these are not commonplace) and heal people.

I think it is important to hold to Sola Scriptura.

As well as prophecy, this whole subject touches on the vexed question of guidance as well.

Unknown said...

Small query as to why cessationism is a "belief" and continuatinoism is an "assumption".

Following this with interest. All kinda complicated - still not sure how it works for us to maintain scripture as the only authoritative relevation and yet still don't we say that God also reveals himself elsewhere - through creation or prophecy, just not with the same authority or clarity??

I dunno...

Warren Pearson said...

re Blackaby type 'God speaking to you' issues.

A personal testimony of a cessationist messed up by this matter of inner promptings etc. despite having heard years of good teaching.

Up until 3 or 4 years ago this was still a NAGGING area of uncertainty to me and I thank the Lord greatly for using a number of men including Professor Essex at TMS teaching Bible survey, Stuart Scott confirming my concerns about Blackaby's listening for God's voice, and ESPECIALLY finally Phil (during his message on this topic at a Grace Community Church Shepherd's Conference and later "A More Sure Word 2 Peter 1:19") to finally untangle me from a misunderstanding on what AUTHORITY to place on inner impressions and 'promptings'.

My problem was that if inner promptings (e.g. to witness to someone, to make a career change) and impressions (e.g. certain words seem to stand off the page of scripture to you regardless of their context) are AUTHORITATIVE and indeed the leading of the Holy Spirit, then if you don't follow them, your living in DISOBEDIENCE and QUENCHING the Holy Spirit and probably VIOLATING your conscience all at the same time.

I suffered a lot of guilt and concern over this for many years, not wanting to disobey the Lord in anything. For me, to finally have a right understanding on these issues was a bit like what it must have been for Luther to have experienced the freedom of conscience of finally understanding justification by faith. It was a huge relief that is still working itself out in many positive ways in terms of life and Godliness.

Some of the many influences on my shakey thinking, stretching back 20 and 30 years included
-an internationally known college ministry I was in where people said things like "How's the Lord been speaking to you lately?"
-A respected preacher associated with the same ministry teaching "God can speak in context and out of context from His Word"
-A lack of sound understanding of the principals of Biblical interpretation. (single meaning, need to take GREAT care with historical and narrative text e.g. OT prophecy, Acts, in building theology and practice for today etc).

My heart goes out to those who are still tyrannized by a misunderstanding in this area.

MTG said...

Reformed Charismatic? Oh my I DO need to get out more.

Jeremy Weaver said...

I believe the canon is complete. don't project the radicals views onto me. And it is the very lack of Scripture to address this issue that makes me see the lack of a biblical case for either side. But at the same time the Bible clearly teaches that prophecy, tongues, healing, etc. were present in the early church and without any Biblical revelation that states that they would cease after the apostolic period, I think I have to assume that they are still active.
Which would then lead to a definition of what these gifts actually are and their scope.

The reason I'm pressing you is that I really want to figure this out. I also realize that you can do whatever you want on your blog. I didn't mean to be annoying.
So I'll stand upon my watch, and set me upon the watchtower to see how you will respond.

MTG said...

True Story:

A friend who was a hospice nurse was called in at the last minute for duty for an elderly Hispanic lady that was dying. She spoke no Spanish the patient no english, funny thing happened...my nurse friend when she started to talk in ENGLISH SPOKE SPANISH to her for nearly an hour and comforted her as she was passing away. Of course my friend does not now speak Spanish yet she can recall that conversation nearly verbatim in English. Weird. God has His ways... why do we keep arguing and going around and around on these subjects instead of letting God be who He is?

BTW that shem do la la la boggity boogity aby dahbi whatever is not speaking in tongues. For it to be real speaking in tongues it must be a REAL language...

Steve said...

Phil said, "Careful readers ought to have noticed (because I have emphasized this fact repeatedly) that I have not yet posted a single argument in favor of cessationism. I really haven't dealt with the issue yet at all."

Glad you provided this review, Phil. We all need to be reminded constantly to pay close attention to what HAS been said and what HASN'T been said. So many debates between Christians in the blogosphere (and modern-day Christendom) spiral quickly out of control because the participants aren't paying close attention.

JerryW: Well said.

To continuationists who are asking for proof texts: Too often, many Christians, in an effort to be dogmatic about a particular view, will try to oversimplify that which is very difficult to oversimplify. This is true about a lot of subject matters in theology, and unfortunately, it seems to happen a lot in the particular discussion at hand.

Years ago when I waded through the cessationism/continuationism debate, I found it necessary to study the issues for over a year, during which I read heavily the proponents from both sides. I wanted to honestly be able to say I had exhausted most, if not all, the possibilities in my search for answers.

Sure, it's a lot of work, but that's a part of being a workman who is diligent in the way he or she handles God's truth.

Jacob Hantla said...

Phil, in my comments, with hindsight, I see that I may have in part been responding to many things said about your posts in the comments on your Pyromaniac blog and in other blogs commenting on this one.

The truth is that I agree with you and am envious of the way you're able to say it almost 100% of the time.

On this comment of mine, I think I was trying mostly to point out the way that I see that the readers of your blog take your comments. Even though you haven't said so, they project your comments about reformed charismatics onto the two most wellknown "reformed charismatic" ministries. So, I agree, you might not want to specifically mention who you are not talking about every time you post, I think that it is necessary to be precise in our statements. For the most part I think that others - including myself at times - have assumed your motives and projected conclusions onto your writing.

As I said in my post, I think that this is a necessary discussion. I just don't want to ruin the opportunity due to fighting. This is not your fault, the commenters to your blog have been much more incindiary than the Pyromaniac has ever been. But perhaps, even a little more specificity, precision, and graciousness than normal in comments on this topic are in order from us all.

Mark said...

Well thanks for not exactly giving us your position again (smile).

I think the verse you ended with ought to be enough to toss out any ideas that cessationism has any Biblical basis, I mean for crying out loud if Jesus warns us that there will be false prophets that should surely communicate that there remains a template for the prophetic, after all how would we know the difference if there were no real prophets?

And am I to gather from your posture that in this world of "cessationism" the only real danger is in false prophecies? What about false tongues and interpetations, what about false miracles, what about the potential for false everything miraculous? Your emphasis on the prophetic seems a bit like tossing out automobiles because of speedy drivers. How much of the motives of thse men in their search for a deeper relationship with God comes into the equation?

John commands us to test the "spirits" (IJohn4:1)...becasue many "false" prophets have gone out into the world...these seems to be a commandment towards maintaining clarity and accuracy, but not for eliminating the prophets altogether...

Bhedr said...

I guess what Phil was saying is that he hasn't said *hike* yet and is still saying *Hut!Hut!*

Matthew Self said...

Phillip, I continue to agree with you on the issue of a lack of discernment in charismatic camps and a need for more Biblical stewardship of these movements. As a member of the same organization as Sam Storms and Wayne Grudem, I am often frustrated when they present a pro-gifts or pro-experiential argument to the whole Church, as if such a praxis is neccesary for everyone in the Body. As a member of the Vineyard, if we are to say we are Evangelical, we should stick to the unadulterated Gospel that we believe we all have in common.

My only aside is to suggest you seem a bit naive to the gun-shy nature of charismatics today. We have been criticized over and over again, and not always in a loving manner. We are often lumped together, as if I have much -- if anything -- in coming with Oral Roberts. You have not crossed that line, but any kind of broad criticism of charismaticism these days is suspect before given any credence. It all feels like salt in an old wound. I hope my misgivings with others' lack of charity has not bled over into my dealings with you, whom I say has been fair in words and action.

I continue to agree with you on your criticisms without being ashamed of my local church and what we believe and practice. The real heritage of the Church is the Good News of Christ, not however we believe we are equipped to deliver it. I continue to stand with you on this principle as a brother in Christ, willingly shedding anything extraneous that might come between us.

Joe said...

"I have suggested that such gullibility breeds sinful superstition."

I am writing a soon to be published blog entitled, "Voodoo Christianity" in shich I will address this very issue.

Brad said...

So then what WAS the point? That people sometimes claim divine inspiration and are lying?

Thanks for the revelation.

Jacob Hantla said...

Bhedr: "I guess what Phil was saying is that he hasn't said *hike* yet and is still saying *Hut!Hut!*"

I guess few flags should be thrown then. I think the entire offensive line was called for a false start and the defense, already in the backfield, gets called for offsides.

I just hope that this discussion, if it ever happens, will be fruitful, biblical, gracious, and helpful and not more divisive than it needs to be.

Kyle said...

Oh hey, that was a link. Thanks.

Honestly, your Friday post was the first one I'd read completely through, so I didn't realise you were officially "not presenting arguments" on cessationism. I thought cessation was the topic of the day and your false prophecy arguments were somehow supposed to be supporting material. I hope you can see how that would be particularly unconvincing, since cessation is required for your harsh view of prophecy.

Coincidentally, I agree with your four points on false prophecy. No debate there at all. But you still seem to be saying that the proper way to discern false prophecy from true involves declaring all attempts at prophecy to be null from the get-go. Hey! It's all false. Problem solved. If I take a cessationist position, it's not necessary to consider arguments over false prophecy, only a need to combat every prophet who comes into range. On the other hand, if I take a continualist position, your arguments are decidedly lacking, since you've given me no means to discern false from true.

FX Turk said...

I just wanted to clear something up:

Reformed people in general come out spoiling for a fight. It's because there are so many Scotsmen and Germanic-tyes in the mix.

Cessationism is just a decent reason.

Doug said...

Wow! I go on vacation for a week and everything falls apart! Now, I'm going to have to go back and re-read all these blogposts and comments to catch up...unless I can receive some divine revelation or somethins ;-)

Also, any idea whether the recent smerodactyl invasion could have been the cause of all those earthquakes?

R&B said...

Hi Phil;

I very much enjoy your blog. I quoted you briefly here. I guess you would call me a "continuationist". I hope a practical one.

I'm a new reader and follow the debate with interest. Thanks for a great read!

Nutriaboy said...

First of all I don't like the definitions given (cessation/continuation)since, for example, the sign gift of speaking in tongues becomes conflated with the gift of healing. And the gift of healing becomes conflated with the gift of teaching and the office of prophet. I believe those must be seperated. Certainly the sign gift of tongues is not in the same category as the gift of teaching for example, yet in the texts they are listed concurrently.

What rules the day in these debates is not the texts, but rather one's experience. If a person claims to have spoken in tongues then you are not fighting the Scripture, but a happening. And for many who have experienced that, it becomes highly spiritual to them. So to challenge them with an exegetical cessationist argument is tantamount to challenging their spirituality.

My experience has shown me that no continuationist tongues-believer can go through 1Cor 12-14 and stay consistent in their doctrine. That section of Scripture weedeats the eisogetical mess that is taught in charismatic circles about that topic.

The fact that the sign gift of speaking in foreign tongues was given to the Body as a sign to unbelievers (particularly unbelieving Jews) pointing them to the reality that He had judged them (Is. 28) for their deafness and hardness of heart and had now turned to the Gentiles (foreign tongues)goes unseen in the experiential camp.(1Cor 14:20-22)

I pray that further discussions will be had in the spirit of charity and humility.

Brian J. Patterson said...

I've done some work on this, perhaps if anyone is interested they can peruse below.




Please refrain from any character assasination by calling me 'dead and lifeless' if you refuse to agree with my work.