This article was originally posted at my site. I’m married with four children, an SBC pastor, a PhD candidate at SBTS, and an average Southern Baptist. I’ve authored two books. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Udemy, YouTube, and iTunes (Podcast).
Nathan Busenitz has an excellent article at The Criplegate titled, “What Cessationism is Not.” Here are 4 myths about cessationism he discusses:
Myth #1: Cessationism is anti-supernatural, denying the possibility of miracles.
When it comes to understanding the cessationist position, the question is not: Can God still do miracles in the world today? Cessationists would be quick to acknowledge that God can act at any time in any way He chooses (Psalms 115:3). . . So, the question is not: Can God still do miracles?
Rather, the definitive question is this: Are the miraculous gifts of the New Testament still in operation in the church today–such that what was the norm in the days of Christ and the apostles ought to be expected today?
Myth #2: Cessationism is founded on one’s interpretation of “the perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13:10.
(1) Some (such as F.F. Bruce) argue that love itself is the perfect.
(2) Some (such as B.B. Warfield) contend that the completed canon of Scripture is the perfect.
(3) Some (such as Robert Thomas) contend that the mature church is the perfect.
(4) Some (such as Thomas Edgar) see the believer’s entrance into the presence of Christ (at the moment of death) as the perfect.
(5) Some (such as Richard Gaffin) see the return of Christ (and the end of this age) as the perfect.
(6) Some (such as John MacArthur) view the eternal state (in a general sense) as the perfect.
In any case, my point here is simply this: The interpreter can take any of the above positions, and still remain a cessationist. In fact, there are cessationists who hold to each of the positions listed above (as the names I’ve listed indicate).
Myth #3: Cessationism is an attack on the Person or work of the Holy Spirit.
In fact, just the opposite is true. Cessationists are motivated by a desire to see the Holy Spirit glorified. They are concerned that, by redefining the gifts, the continuationist position cheapens the remarkable nature of those gifts, lessening the truly miraculous working of the Spirit in the earliest stages of the church.
Cessationists are convinced that, by redefining healing, the charismatic position presents a bad testimony to the watching world when the sick are not healed. By redefining tongues, the charismatic position promotes a type of nonsensical gibberish that runs contrary to anything we know about the biblical gift. By redefining prophecy, the charismatic position lends credence to those who would claim to speak the very words of God and yet speak error.
This, then, is the primary concern of cessationists: that the honor of the Triune God and His Word be exalted—and that it not be cheapened by watered-down substitutes.
Myth #4: Cessationism is a product of the Enlightenment.
Perhaps the easiest way to demonstrate this final point is to cite pre-Enlightenment Christian leaders who held to a cessationist position. It is, after all, difficult to argue that John Chrysostom’s fourth-century theology was a result of 18th-century European rationalism.
1. John Chrysostom (c. 344–407):
“This whole place [speaking about 1 Corinthians 12] is very obscure: but the obscurity is produced by our ignorance of the facts referred to and by their cessation, being such as then used to occur but now no longer take place.”
(Source: John Chrysostom, Homilies on 1 Corinthians, 36.7. Chrysostom is commenting on 1 Cor 12:1–2 and introducing the entire chapter. Cited from 1–2 Corinthians, in the Ancient Christian Commentary Series, 146.)
2. Augustine (354–430):
“In the earliest times, the Holy Spirit fell upon them that believe and they spoke with tongues, which they had not learned, as the Spirit gave them utterance. These were signs adapted to the time. For there was this betokening of the Holy Spirit in all tongues [languages] to show that the gospel of God was to run through all tongues over the whole earth. That thing was done for a sign, and it passed away.”
(Source: Augustine, Homilies on the First Epistle of John, 6.10. Cf. Schaff, NPNF, First Series, 7:497–98.)
3. Theodoret of Cyrus (c. 393–c. 466):
“In former times those who accepted the divine preaching and who were baptized for their salvation were given visible signs of the grace of the Holy Spirit at work in them. Some spoke in tongues which they did not know and which nobody had taught them, while others performed miracles or prophesied. The Corinthians also did these things, but they did not use the gifts as they should have done. They were more interested in showing off than in using them for the edification of the church. . . . Even in our time grace is given to those who are deemed worthy of holy baptism, but it may not take the same form as it did in those days.”
Note: Proponents of continuationism, like Jon Ruthven (in his work, On the Cessation of the Charismata), also acknowledge cessationist views in other church fathers (like Origen in the 3rd century, and Ambrosiaster in the 4th century).
Additionally, to this list, we could include the most well-known name of the middle ages, the 13th-century scholastic, Thomas Aquinas.
You can find Busenitz’s full article here. I’ve only provided brief excerpts above. His full article is worthy of your time and attention.
What are your thoughts?
This article was originally posted at my site. I’m married with four children, an SBC pastor, a Teaching Assistant for Bruce Ware & Greg Allison and a PhD student at SBTS, and an average Southern Baptist. I’ve authored two books. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Udemy, YouTube, and iTunes (Podcast).