Saturday, November 12, 2005

Cessationism Again

I have a few moments, a precious few, in which to post an entry. I am trying to hold a conversation with prolific writers when I don't have two seconds of "alone" time in which to do so. I'm not complaining, that's just the way it is.

Inscrutable answered my previous post here, and is continuing to do so. Good on him. It's good reading.

As I suspected, his scriptural argument revolves around an interpretation of 1Cor 13:10 that I believe to be errant. It involves interpreting the word "perfect" as "mature". Certainly the greek word teleios can and is interpreted in this fasion. However, in Greek, as in English, the same word can mean different things. I believe that teleios is a literary allusion for Christ as it is used in 1Cor 13:10.

I'm just a guy from Texas. Don't believe me? How about Eugene Peterson, author of the very popular modern rendering "The Message". He translates the passage as follows (any emphasis mine):


Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incomplete will be canceled.
1 Cor 13:8-10, The Message (c) 2002.

Notice the word "Complete" in the last sentence. I bold-faced it to make it stand out, but Peterson capitalizes it. Why? Because it is an allusion for Christ and His imminent return. It does not imply that charismata will cease at some indeterminent point in history when the Church attains maturity. That is an extra-textual rendering.

Now let's be fair. When reading some of Insrutable's more pensive posts about his experience with, as he terms it, "charismania", I got the idea that the Inscrutable One had abandoned the Holy Spirit altogether. He posts in relevant part:


"To this day I completely depend on the Holy Spirit to open up the Scriptures to me and to apply them to my sin-prone heart. Moreover, I depend on the Holy Spirit's ongoing help as I go about my day-to-day life, for it is He who brings Scripture to mind as I make decisions and deal with my sinful neighbors. The Holy Spirit is my constant companion as I run the Christian race."


Good on him. That's almost a classical descritption of the operation of the paraclete in our day to day lives. I'll not quibble. If he says it, I believe him. I got the wrong idea when he said that he had no need of the "small still voice" and scripture was sufficient alone. That statement made me think that the Inscrutable One had abandoned a personal relationship with the living God altogether.

Inscrutable also posted a link to his church's website, in which a position paper on cessationism is posted. I have not read it all, and after doing so may comment upon it. It's a free country, you can believe what you want. I just have scriptural differences with it. I also critique the color scheme. It is difficult for my eyes to read the low-contrast green on grey and it prints out no better. If you're going to post such a thing, why not make it easier for your audience to read? But that's just me.

I'm going to quit for the moment. It's my birthday, it's a beautiful, sunny 80 degree fall day in West Texas, and my little girl wants to play. So we're going to play in the leaves.

Later

32 Rant In Reply:

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Saturday, November 12, 2005  
Blogger dave bones said...

Very interesting. Brings back loads of memories about my christian communities squabbles.

Happy birthday.

Sunday, November 13, 2005  
Blogger R&B said...

Thanks, Bones. Yea, the squabbles are replete in the Christian community. But sometimes, debate is fun, ya know. This is a denomination I'm not familiar with, and am trying to understand. Reaching out, like you, Bones :-)

Sunday, November 13, 2005  
Blogger Deutero Q said...

Greetings from sunny south Texas....

Just wondering if you noted my comment to Inscrutable regarding 1 Corinthians 13:10. I side with the master exegete John Calvin on this one! He definitely did not believe (as does Inscrutable) that the "perfect has come." In the words of Calvin:

"But when will that perfection come? It begins, indeed, at death, because then we put off many weaknesses along with the body; but it will not be completely established until the day of judgment, as we shall soon learn. We conclude from that, that it is stupid of people to make the whole of this discussion apply to the intervening time."

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Blogger dave bones said...

And I certainly don't judge people for squabbling.

Sunday, November 13, 2005  
Blogger R&B said...

Bones: Done.

Deutero Q: Yes, I saw your post. I'm not really a Calvin fan, although I really like some of his stuff. I've never really thought of 1Cor 13:10 as meaning death ... I think it means Christ's return. can you convince me elsewise?

Sunday, November 13, 2005  
Blogger Deutero Q said...

I agree: the context of "coming perfection" in 1 Cor. 13 has to do with Christ's return. Calvin simply said perfection begins at death but won't be completely established until the day of judgment.

In any event, I don't see how anyone can maintain that perfection has already come!

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