Not long ago I posted something under the title “The Complete and Exhaustive Biblical Evidence of the Cessationist Viewpoint”.
The evidence provided was a blank page. Some people didn’t initially get the point and clicked on the page, assuming it provided a link to the “evidence”. However they soon discovered that the white page WAS the extent of the evidence that could be provided. I was making the point that there is no biblical evidence to support the cessationist view.
So what is cessationism? Basically it is the belief that the gifts of the Spirit and the apostolic gifts are no longer valid, that they were withdrawn very early in church history, either with the last of the biblical apostles or with the establishment of the canon of scripture.
For two or three weeks now I’ve been commenting on a blog where the owner has been promoting cessationism. During that time I have continually asked him for biblical evidence that the gifts are no available.
He had written several articles promoting his views – so it could be assumed that, having written so much in those articles, he would have given at least the appearance of solid evidence to support his stance. But that has not been the case. His evidence in the main has been to mock the excesses of extreme “charismatics” and inferring that their errors PROVE that all supposed spiritual gifts are false.
This is a summary of the kind of reasoning I’ve seen:
– charismatic prophecies have been proven false, therefore all claimed prophecies are false.
– claimed charismatic healings are questionable, therefore all claimed gifts of healings are false.
He also makes claims about the gift of tongues that I hope to deal with separately another time.
What I want to do here regarding the matter of cessationism is to make a few points about what is NOT valid evidence.
1) Pointing out the foolishness of extreme charismatics is NOT evidence of the validity of cessationism
2) Having an absence of gifts in one’s own life, or never having witnessed or experienced the gifts of the Spirit is not evidence of the validity of cessationism
3) When the claimed gifts practiced by others doesn’t match your own perception of what the gifts of the Spirit should be like, it is not evidence for the validity of cessationism
4) Using non-biblical terms to mock gifts (such as referring to tongues as “gibberish” is not legitimate evidence supporting cessationsim.
Note that ALL of the above relate in some way to personal experience instead of reference to scripture. Ironically one of the biggest criticisms levelled against charismatics is that they are too experience driven, and yet all of the objections above are no less relying on experience (or lack of it).