A Cessationist’s Affirmations
This from an excellent article by Frank Turk of the Pyromaniacs on charismatic excesses. Well worth taking the time to read through and consider. What I like so much about it is that it draws the right balance - it does not deny God’s ability to act in miraculous ways but correctly challenges the claims of many in the charismatic community that these things (not to mention the loony stuff) are necessary and required.
See what you think,
I affirm that Reformation theology requires the personal action of God the Holy Spirit for the life of the Church.
I deny that this work necessarily includes speaking in tongues (as in Acts 2 as well as in so-called “private prayer languages”), healing the sick or raising the dead by explicit command, prophecy in the sense that Isaiah and John the Baptist were prophets, or any other “sign-and-wonder”-like exhibition. That is: I deny that these actions are necessary for the post-apostolic church to function as God intended.
I affirm that miracles happen today. No sense in prayer and believing in a sovereign God if he’s not going to ever be sovereign, right?
I deny that there is any man alive today who is gifted to perform miracles as Christ and the Apostles where gifted to perform miracles.
I affirm that God is utterly capable of, and completely willing, to demonstrate “signs and wonders” at any time, in any place, according to his good pleasure and for his great purpose.
I deny that this activity is common, normative, necessary, nor is it in the best interest of God’s people to been seen as common, normative and/or necessary. God in fact warns us against seeking signs rather than the thing signified repeatedly in the OT and NT.
I affirm the real presence of the Holy Spirit in the church of Jesus Christ as Jesus said He would be present in John 13-15.
I deny that this means that all believers or even all local churches will be equipped with apostles called and equipped as the 12 and Paul were called and equipped. A telling example is the role of apostles in delivering Scripture to the church.
I affirm that the normative working of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church begins with conviction of sin and regeneration, and continues through sanctification, and through the outworking of personal gifts (e.g. - Gal 5:22-23, 1 Cor 13:4-7) for the edification of the (local) church.
I deny that explicitly-supernatural outworkings, or events the Bible calls “signs and wonders” (e.g. - Acts 2:1-11, Acts 3:3-7,Acts 5:1-11, Acts 9:32-35, etc.) are either normative or necessary for the on-going life of the church.
I affirm the uniqueness of the office of apostle in the founding of the church.
I deny the necessity of apostles for the on-going life of the church.
I affirm that leadership in the church is a task wholly-empowered by the Holy Spirit to men meeting the scriptural qualifications, and that the objectives of this leadership are wholly-defined by the Holy Spirit explicitly through Scripture and implicitly as the gifts of leaders are applied to a real people in a local church.
I deny that church leadership is like business leadership—that is, a system of techniques that have outcomes measurable by secular metrics of success—and further deny that merely-competent management processes yield the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Like I said, quite a list. As you chew on it do consider Turk’s next paragraph with my own emphasis added:
If in that you can find me somehow relegating the Holy Spirit to something other than what the Bible says He does to us and through us and for us, then you can lay on with the side-eye regarding whether or not I think God the Spirit is necessary for the church.
And now only one thing to add; my own personal response any time someone tells me I have the wrong priorities vis-a-vis that boring old teaching people the Bible stuff against all the wackadoodle (yes I did just use that word) things they claim are essential:
The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Now that’s the right priority.
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