Monday, November 14, 2005

Cessationism, once again

Oh, good grief! Inscrutable bailed on the whole debate. I think I stressed him out. I am sooo sorry! I did not mean to do that. That's not what I am about at all.

The debate, however, rages on over at Pyromaniac. Pretty interesting stuff, too. Phil states:

Now, before someone parrots the standard line, let me just say I realize that's still not an exegetical argument for cessationism.

Good. Now that we've gotten that out of the way! Let me expand a bit on where I am coming from.

I attend an inter-denominational church. Professing Christians of all stripes are welome members! This results in a group of people that must at all times maintain a profound respect for one another. Failure to do so could result in ripping each other to pieces over doctrinal issues. There is, like so many approaches to "doing church", good aspects and not-so-good aspects to it. We fellowship together because we love one another first, before our beliefs, at least that's the goal. Most times we achieve the goal, sometimes not. Such is life.

We try mightily to base everything that we do upon the inspired Word of God. We discuss doctrinal issues thoughtfully and respectfully. In some ways, it is the epitome of Christianity. In others, it results in watered-down written doctrine.

I have taught 1Cor 12-14 three times. I've taken a class on it at least three times. I've thought about it, ruminated upon it, and just generally tried to understand it. My conclusion is: those gifts must still be in operation. They may not be necessary in many parts of Western culture. Signs and wonders, after all, are primarily for unbelievers. If most folks, say where I live, are professing Christians, then why does there need to be signs and wonders? That, in and of itself, does not mean that they are not needed elsewhere.

I do not myself speak/pray in tongues. I have no problem whatsoever with those that do. Good on 'em. I do have a problem with those that say if you do not, you're not really Christian, and those that say those that do are part of some kind of loony bin twilight zone. If you are in either of these camps, in my opinion at least, you missed the over-arching point of 1Cor 12-14: there are many different tasks in the Body of Christ and many different people with many different gifts to perform those tasks. Get over it, we're all different.

Please understand, that I have spent far more time decrying the errant theology of the Word of Faith movement than I ever have cessationism. But I wasn't a blogger then, either. I see no reason to sweep my "intellect under the carpet" just because I enjoy a more demonstrative form of worship. I also do not see a reason for "dissing" those that want to worship quietly. Both are valid forms of expressing one's love for God. I do draw the line at worship services that are "not in good order". I just have no place in my life for rolling in the aisles and listening to people babble incoherently. Paul specifically warned against such, and if we are to consider the scriptures inspired, then we ought to listen, no?

I have had some wonderful experiences that people would consider "charismatic". I have also had a couple of experiences that were profoundly negative (although with paradoxically profoundly positive results). I think of spiritual gifts as simply part of the Christian gig. Somebody gets healed ... great! Move on please. Miracles can and do happen. In the Lord's brief ministry, I don't see Him making a big deal of performing miracles. Seems like He treats it as part of the job description, and expects us to do the same. But that is not license for charlitans to make windfall profits, or make up crazy crap and call it theology.


A lot of the controversy over at Pyromaniac seems to center on prophecy. Specifically, whether there is "revelation" today or all has been revealed through the existing Scriptures.

It seems like most folks regard the office of prophet as someone who foretells the future. The prophet is supposed to be some kind of divinely inspired soothsayer, incapable of making a mistake or telling a lie.

Yet, when I read the Old Testament, or even Jesus in the New Testament, I see the prophet calling people to repentance and warning of the consequences of continued sin. This task is far more important than seeing into the future. And for those instances when the future is foretold, is it not generally some aspect of Christ's coming the first time, or eventual coming the second time?

There is a guy in our church that I regard as having the gift of prophecy. He has a booming voice. When he calls the community to repentance in Christ, man folks listen. That's the prophet's job, not some Nostradamus that predicts stock market trends.

The cessationist would say the office of prophet passed from the earth long ago. However, in Revelation, aren't there "two witnesses" that prophecy daily? If the gift is gone, how are these two witnesses to appear? And what do they do when they appear? THEY CALL PEOPLE TO REPENTANCE!

Let me act as a prophet for a moment. We are tearing ourselves apart! We in the Church have adopted the ways of the world in that we feel it is ok to celebrate our differences instead of being unified. We are called to unity, not to ripping each other apart like the political culture of our day. Repent!

Let's have some common sense in the debate. Debating is ok and is fun, but let's do it in love. I liked the way Paul put it in Romans:

Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God.
Rom 14:22a

Peace my babies.

7 Rant In Reply:

Blogger dave bones said...

If I was a christian I would agree totally and probably be part of a church like yours, but you know that by now.

I think the arguments are funny.

I can just imagine more sombre followers of christ shouting up at Peter on the roof in Acts

"Is there any need for this?"

or teling Lazurus to get back in his tomb and stop making a spectacle of himself.

Thursday, November 17, 2005  
Blogger R&B said...

It's probably one of the reasons they killed Jesus ... He just plain offended the leaders of His day.

In a way, the arguments are funny. It's ok to argue, but I've read a bunch of stuff in the last week: people dissing each other like they were pagans or something. Sheesh.

Makes me want to come to the UK, at least for a visit. Hang with some of my edgy blogger friends.

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