Cessationist Evasion!

In previous posts I’ve given my reasons for believing in the validity of on-going Spiritual gifts*.

To date I’ve still not seen or been given any argument (supportable by scripture) that could even half convince me that God has withdrawn any of the Spiritual gifts described in the New Testament.
I’ve already addressed the most common “scriptural” claim given by cessationsists – found in 1 Corinthians 13*.

The only recent “evidence” I’ve been given came in the form of a question on a cessationist blog: “how do you explain the fact that the gifts were absent from the church between, say, 100AD and 1900AD?”

My first attempt to answer that question didn’t make it past moderation. The moderator/blog owner wouldn’t approve it.

The question is based on an assumption that ignores available evidence. There are many post-apostolic references to the continuation of miracles in the church, recorded in the writings of the early church fathers. I easily found many sources giving details of their writings – which are too numerous and too lengthy for me to quote at length. Instead I’ll point to these articles here:

http://www.samstorms.com/enjoying-god-blog/post/spiritual-gifts-in-church-history–1-http://www.samstorms.com/enjoying-god-blog/post/spiritual-gifts-in-church-history–2- http://www.samstorms.com/enjoying-god-blog/post/spiritual-gifts-in-church-history–3-http://www.samstorms.com/enjoying-god-blog/post/spiritual-gifts-in-church-history–4-

A link to the above articles was posted on the offending blog in response to his request for an explanation for the alleged almost 2000 year absence of gifts. The comment and the link to the articles didn’t get past moderation.


*(see here for my reasons and my comments regarding 1 Cor 13): https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/are-we-mature-enough-not-to-need-gods-gifts/ )
Here is a link to the relevant part of the cessationist blog mentioned above:

5 thoughts on “Cessationist Evasion!

  1. Blessings, brother Tim. Another source is Schaff’s “History of the Christian Church:” very thorough, and written before charismata became a divisive “issue,” so Schaff tends to just say what he finds in Church history, without bias. Online here: http://www.ccel.org/s/schaff/history/About.htm. (Also has some interesting history on, for example, the Church’ practice of Christmas.)

    Of course, Schaff draws almost entirely from the writings we have of the earliest Christians, so you’re going right to the source(s).

    But the thought that probably determines whether or not cessationnists can even SEE such evidence always appears to be how they answer the question you cite: “how do you explain the fact that the gifts were absent from the church between, say, 100AD and 1900AD?”

    There are only two possible answers. Either God withdrew His gifts…or we “lost” them. Cessationism seems to rest on our desire to avoid admitting OUR fault: even if it means adopting a theology that God is changeable, and does things that don’t “work.”

    In Jesus, Steve

  2. HI Steve, you say:
    “There are only two possible answers. Either God withdrew His gifts…or we “lost” them. Cessationism seems to rest on our desire to avoid admitting OUR fault…”

    All of the cessationists I’ve come across in my recent discussions are Calvinists, just like John MacArthur who resurrected this issue with his Strange Fire conference and book. While not all Calvinists are cessationists (the articles I linked to are on a Calvinist site), the Calvinist beliefs of some definitely helps to colour their understanding of the issue. For them, suggesting our actions could have an effect on God and the availability of His gifts, would be a denial of His sovereignty; suggesting that our actions could prevent God from outworking His will. Effectively that kind of thinking removes all responsibility from man and places it all on God. It also denies the conditional nature of God’s dealings with man, where He says if you will do this, I will do that.

    Conditional promises require the conditions be fulfilled by man before the promise is enacted by God. I note that one of the conditions of prophecy relates to the faith of the one using the gift (“…prophesy in proportion to our faith…”). Denial of the validity of gifts removes any chance of having faith for the use of the gifts – therefore the condition of faith can not be fulfilled and the gift remains unused.

  3. Exactly right.

    A teacher I used to follow, Bob Mumford, told the story of an early Pentecostal leader, starting a sermon to a conference of Pentecostal leaders, “The age of miracles is over…” After the audience had lapsed into shocked silence, he continued, “…if you THINK it’s over.”

    In Jesus, Steve

  4. Steve, I recall the article on your blog (link below) in which you mention the MacArthur study bible’s claim that the gifts are no longer valid.

    I had the opportunity to have a look at that bible the other day and found what seemed to be 1/3 page of scripture to every 2/3 page of MacArthur’s notes.
    Regarding 1 Cor 12-14, one of the notes addressed Paul’s instruction to earnestly desire spiritual gifts, especailly prophecy. MacArthur’s conclusion was that the context showed that Paul didn’t mean anyone should desire Spiritual gifts.

    Clearly the context referred to was the context of the 2/3 page of the notes becasue the context of scripture certainly DOES tell us to desrie gifts.

    And then a day or two after that I came across a blogger who was struggling with the validity of gifts being demonstrated in a church he visited – he said he went to his MacArthur study bible and after much prayer and study came to the conclusion that the church and its demonstrated gifts were wrong.

    I have to wonder how many people are being robbed of the gifts by the false teachings of cessationists like MacArthur. But then again, people aren’t forced to accept his teaching and are totally capable of putting his notes aside and studying the scriptures and nothing but the scriptures – but they choose not to take that path.


  5. Pingback: Moving the Theological Goalposts | Onesimus Files

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