Saturday, 4 July 2009

A Little Cessationism is Good for the Soul Part 3

Cessationism is good for the soul. Why? Well I gats some more reasons:
  1. It respects the biblical miracles. Cessationists refuse to take our questionable experiences and import these back into biblical text. For someone to just 'speak out' in the faith that God the Spirit will give the words, and then to equate that inane babbling to the biblical gift of languages discredits the biblical testimony to the veracity of the gifts. To take Benny Hinn's 'healing' of someone's sore back and equate that to the works of power in the NT, is to tar the apostolic testimony with the same dodgy brush that Benny uses (presumably that same dodgy brush he uses to achieve his massive comb over - now that is miraculous). The world looks on at our dodgy claims and loses respect for the authenticity of the biblical miracles. If Christians are quick to believe a Todd Bentley, why should the world take seriously our belief in Christ?
  2. It keeps one looking outside of one's self. Many in the church struggle with depression. They need led out of the maze of emotional entanglement. To ask a depressive person, "What is God saying to you?" and then expect them to respond with some personal 'word', only contributes to keeping that person locked in the maze. To be told that Christ is outside of one's self, that his word is objective and that interpreting providence is impossible, is to offer a cool drink of soul-satisfying water to the saint with emotional imbalance. So therefore,
  3. It saves one from trying to interpret providence. The question 'What is God saying to you?' betrays the attitude that God's word to the Christian is not supremely embodied in Scripture but must be sought by trying to interpret what God is 'saying' through life's events. As R. Scott Clark said in Recovering the Reformed Confession, the proper response to the question, 'What is God saying to you?' should be a relaying of the contents of last Sunday's sermon, or a description of the significance of baptism or the Lord's Supper. Anything else is a dead end and a detraction from Christ.
  4. It respects the Reformed doctrine of a liberated conscience. If we are to assume the continuing validity of revelatory gifts, then surely my conscience will become enslaved to whatever God told you? For instance, I remember one time listening to a sermon by Charismatic preacher David Pawson. He spoke of the value in 'interrogatory prayer'. During a time of such prayer, he asked God "What do you hate?" God responded to Pawson "Christmas". As a result, Pawson abandoned celebrating Christmas. Now if this is a true revelation, then why is it not binding on all Christians? If God has revealed his hatred for Christmas (to Pawson) then we are all obligated to follow Pawson's example are we not? No no no. This refusal to celebrate Christmas could be put down to a weak conscience (as per Romans 14), but not to the voice of God. If we are to have truly gospel strengthened consciences, then it is imperative that we bin this 'God told me' piety for a mind made strong by God's word.


Anonymous said...

The thing Cessationism cannot honor is the Great Commission. The Church needs to look at that Commission carefully and know precisely its goals. The Mission:(1) to create a practicing and compliant Universal church of every tribe of man, (2) to baptize them on behalf of the Holy Trinity, (3) to transmit and teach every commandment of Lord Jesus for this Universal Church and ensure that they are obeyed. Paul would have also understood this.

In particular (1) and (3) mean this: A Kalahari Bushman, the Eskimo, the Chinese, anyone, all should receive exactly what 'Universal Church Commandments' the original Apostles received, no more no less. And to practice them, no more no less. Supposing there are 100 commandments to be transmitted, the Bushman, the Eskimo and so on should not be made to receive 99, or 101, or any different thing from what the 1st Generation Christians received.

Also, implicit in the idea of 'covenant' is that The New Covenant (with its Commandments (practices), Theology, Promises, etc) is to be transmitted faithfully, without alteration or amendment, if you get my drift.

Now what we have is that Cessationism clearly teaches that certain commandments are obsolete and need not be obeyed any longer. This clearly impacts on the Covenant and the Lordship, since 'commandments', 'covenant', and 'Lord' are extremely closely related matters.

So, Nick, I, insignificant though I am, disagree that Cessationism is good for the soul any more than gross charismania can be. But my assertions above are not without significance.

Nick Mackison said...

Without wanting to cause offense, I think your argument is a little simplistic.

There are things that the apostles commanded that do not bind us now. How about Paul asking Timothy to bring him his parchments (2 Tim. 4:13)?

I suspect the command you are alluding to is in 1 Corinthians 14 where the apostle told the Corinthians to eagerly desire prophecy. Prophecy is a foundational gift according to Ephesians 4. We should no more seek prophecy today than we should seek another Pentecost. Both are part of redemptive history and we should not be trying to turn back the clock.

Anonymous said...

It was meant to be simple. I was just trying to draw a simple straight line from A to where-ever.

You were saying that some commandments of Christ for the early Church had been consigned to history's scrap heap.That's dangerous and precisely why I said Cessationism cannot honor the Great Commission.
"Go and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all I have commanded you"

Are you not virtually saying that the Commission stopped at the apostles and the present form of commission cannot be the same since it cannot include everything the original was meant to transmit?

What is your take on 1 Cor 14:37-38, Nick?

Others have dealt with Eph 4, and the Continuationists have always pointed to the obvious - no one of us has reached the maturity of Christ.
The apostle John wrote, "...what we will be has not yet been revealed. But what we know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him for we shall see him as he is." 1 Jn 3:2

There is also something by Jon Ruthven :