“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves their favourite celebrity teachers” (2 Tim 4 slightly paraphrased)
In following the arguments being presented by cessationists, I’ve seen little more than duelling with celebrities – where one celebrity preacher is quoted against another. First we had John MacArthur’s Strange Fire, then we had Frank Viola’s rebuttal, Pouring Water on Strange Fire, and Michael Brown’s Authentic Fire. These then became the focus of a cessationist response*.
I am still waiting for BIBLICAL evidence that God has withdrawn any of the Spiritual gifts. I’m still waiting because there is no such evidence.
Criticism of “charismatics” is NOT scriptural evidence, no matter how much that criticism is deserved
Yes, a sizable segment of the charimsatic “movement” promotes and practices terrible things, claiming to be motivated by the Spirit, but even if ALL claimed charismatics were the same that would still not be evidence supporting cessationism.
The problem with Charismatics arises NOT because Spiritual gifts have been withdrawn and therefore everything “charismatic” must be counterfeit – but because many “charismatics” have fallen for celebrity worship, following the word of big name men and women instead of the word of God; running from conference to conference, speaker to speaker instead of taking time to search the scriptures.
But non-charismatics are no less guilty of that, following the word of their own celebs instead of HONESTLY addressing scripture themselves.
Ironically, while charismatic excess is being cited as evidence of the cessationist viewpoint, most of that excess has NOTHING to do with biblical Spiritual gifts. Most of the aberrant behaviour and manifestations at the centre of charismania is extra-biblical. It is not even a counterfeit of biblically cited gifts. But, even their claimed expression of things that do have a biblical precedent (such as prophecy) are EASILY exposed as false by holding them accountable to biblical standards.
As well as the example of false charismata, the remaining cessationist evidence comes from their perceived lack of genuine charismata. That includes making judgements according to their own assumptions about what genuine gifts should be like. For example, tongues is dismissed by some because they insist tongues should always be recognisable earthly languages, used only for spreading the gospel. Both parts of this claim can easily be refuted by referring to Paul’s statements that someone speaking in a tongue speaks to God not man, and also refers to praying in a tongue as the spirit praying. This doesn’t fit the above mentioned cessationist preconception.
Here we have two issues, firstly a wrong preconception of what gifts should be, and secondly the lack of experience of the gifts as defined by those wrong preconceptions. In these I see very little difference between the extreme charismatic and the cessationist. Both have abandoned scripture as their standard of truth and have turned to experience. One assumes their strange experiences are from the Spirit (even when those experiences don’t stand up to scriptural scrutiny) the other assumes THEIR lack of experience** of anything must mean the gifts are no longer valid (despite that claim not standing up to scriptural scrutiny).
What the cessationist fails to consider is that their lack of experience may come down to their lack of expectation. Their denial of the gifts kills any possibility of them having faith to exercise or experience gifts themselves. Paul said “If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith” , and yet how can someone have faith to prophesy at all if they deny the possibility? Likewise with other gifts; how can anyone expect to experience those gifts in their own life if their faith’s foundation is built on denial, if they refuse even the possibility of genuine gifts?
“let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
If that is true of the double minded man, the man who doubts – what about the single minded man who does not doubt but strongly believes the wrong thing? Someone so convinced that Spiritual gifts aren’t valid that they have absolutely no expectation of experiencing them?
*examples of which can be found here: http://hipandthigh.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/reviewing-authentic-fire/?relatedposts_exclude=4838 and at this site: http://mennoknight.wordpress.com/
**in a reply to a comment from me, one cessationist blog owner admits that his belief is based on him not seeing any “practical evidence” of the gifts. http://hipandthigh.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/authentic-fire-chapter-2-review/comment-page-1/#comment-10916It has nothing to do with scriptural evidence – claiming that both (cessationist) MacArthur and (charismatic) Michael Brown both provide scriptural support for their (opposing) views, however he qualifies that by saying MacArthur makes a “strong case”. And yet… WHERE IS THAT “strong” CASE?