Thursday, November 10, 2005

Cessationism

This last week I stumbled upon some bloggers that believe in cessationism, i.e., they believe that the "gifts of the spirit" or charismata, have ceased. It started here and here. The first link is to a pastor, the second to a computer programer up North. I read much of the the (in)Scrutable Observer's comments on what happened to him in the Charismatic movement. I was quite touched, really.

InScruatable was profoundly screwed up by the Word of Faith theology. He says that he ended up worshiping the experiences he was having, and needing more and more of it, like some sort of drug addict. His experience taught him that the gifts were not, in fact, genuine.

So, based on these experiences that produced negative fruit in his life, he rejects any gifts being in operation today. Apparently, something called the Reformed churches, doctrinally do the same. Indeed.

InScruatable states that he no longer has need of a "small still voice" because he now trusts the Bible.

Where InScruatable went wrong to start with is the so-called "Word of Faith" movement. It's looney tunes, in my opinion. It is fraught with questionable theology (or none at all), questionable televangelists, services that are not only not "in good order", but downright chaotic, and just general lunacy. InScruatable made the mistake of not testing the veracity of what he was experiencing against scripture. He swung so far out on the pendulum, that he slipped off. Then he gets back on, and swings way over to the other side, the side fraught with legalism. Again, he relies on experience, rather than scripture, to be his guide.

In the interest of fairness, let's look at the scripture most frequently quoted as "proof text" for cessationism:


8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
1Cor 13:8-10

The passage, tagged onto the end of one of the most beautiful passages about love in the Bible, seems at first glance to imply that at some point, perhaps after the apostolic age even, tongues and other gifts will cease. The key verse, however, is verse 10 that says "when that which is perfect has come ...." The greek word teleios is the word rendered "perfect" here. It has the connotation of "completeness", to bring to fruition. It also means "mature", especially when referring to a person. The meaning of the passage, to me at least is obvious: that when Christ returns we will have no need of these things. In other words, "when completeness has come" ... the gifts will cease.

Why do I interpret it so? Because the spiritual gifts are for edification, as Paul so eloquently states in 1Cor 12-14. Their purpose is for the edification, the building up, the witnessing to ... others. When Christ returns, it'll be a different game. Ok? Although tongues are for the edification of the speaker, the other gifts aren't meant for YOU, so quit abusing them!

The whole cessation of prophecy / tongues, etc, is extra-biblical, in my opinion.

Please, O please, quit throwing rocks at each other ... K?

12 Rant In Reply:

Blogger John said...

I find it quite strange that you think that we’ve been ‘throwing rocks at each other.’ Bridge-building is challenging and debate is so healthy, don’t you think?

Friday, November 11, 2005  
Blogger theinscrutableone said...

Thanks for your comments on my blog! It's nice to know that I have readers even if they aren't 100% on the same page as me. :-)

Since you didn't set up a trackback link from your blog to mine, I've created a post on my blog that links back to your article. I've also included some preliminary comments in my new post. Later on, once I've had time to compose a more detailed reply, I'll post another comment here with a link to that post.

Dave

Friday, November 11, 2005  
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Blogger theinscrutableone said...

Hi!

I've put a more detailed response to your post here . Summary: I've not yet shared the complete story of my Charismatic journey, and although I've so far concentrated on my experiences, my change in views is most decidedly not based exclusively or primarily upon my experiences, but rather on my better understanding of Scripture. As a charismatic, I put experience first and used Scripture as a "stamp of approval" on my experiences (a procedure that's used, I fear, by many charismatics), whereas I later learned to put Scripture first and interpret my experiences in its light. I will have more to say about the Scriptural foundation for my doctrinal views in the near future.

Dave

Friday, November 11, 2005  
Blogger R&B said...

John: Yes, debate is healthy. However, when the debate moves from debate to little more than name calling, it becomes unhealthy. Unfortunately, I was rushed and did not complete the post as I would have liked, so the final thought didn't make much sense. My bad.

Dave: I look forward to a spirited debate on this subject (there ya go, John). I'm sorry if it seemed that I took a hard line ... unfortunately, I have a lot of "experience" with a local denomination that is cessationist in nature and have dealt with the damage all of my life. So my response was also based in experience, I guess. So ... try and convince my; I have an open mind. I read your post on your site, by the way and will endeavor to respond as soon as I can.

Friday, November 11, 2005  
Blogger dave bones said...

Totally agree about the pendulum effect.

When Psy-Trance first started in the UK I used to meet an endless number of Swedish girls who would arrive being anti-drugs, slowly convince each other to try them, get into them, totally loose the plot on them and then return to Sweden, return to hard-line anti0drugs attitudes and hassle eachother (and me) to make us feel like junkies.

Of course theres going to be a whole load of lunatics and nutters where people have the courage to test the supernatural gifts the Bible talks about, but evangelicals who talk these gifts down or say they were only for biblical terms are scared of these gifts because they aren't normal and middle class, its nothing to do with the Bible.

Why am I getting involved in this one?

I'm not even a christian. Ah well, all the best to you all.

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