05 September 2008

Better name for signs-'n'-wonders Charismatics?

by Dan Phillips

I'll just wedge this offhand, orphaned thought amid Bro Turk's ongoing series on Da Gifts. He bears no blame for any bad, of course.

I've lamented in the past that the labels on this issue are ill-distributed. The positive and Bibley term "Charismaticism" gets tacked onto a movement that tries to cheapen the Biblical phenomena for the purpose of "dolling up" modern counterfeits. Meanwhile, the contrary position, which features robust affirmation of the sufficiency of God's living and dynamic Word, has to wear the rags of the negative term "Cessationism."

I've wished there were better terms for both. As Phil Johnson has frequently and convincingly argued, "Continuationists" are nothing of the sort. Their redefinition of some of the charismata hardly qualifies them to bear that sparkling term. What would be a more Biblical term?

And so, I was thinking....

One "continuationist" argument goes: God did signs and wonders to establish the Gospel. He needs to do the same today. If we deny that (the argument goes), we have a dead God, a God-in-a-book. We're Deists.

This is such a dear and beloved argument to some. It might be nice to know if God concurs with such confident assertions, and the line of reasoning behind it.

I don't think so.

Consider Exodus 10:2 — "and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you [plural] may know that I am the LORD."

This teaches us much. For one, miracles were to be transmitted verbally. God's performance of miracles are not a commitment to nightly shows, à la Las Vegas. What's more, this verbal transmission of God's past miracles was sufficient to produce knowledge of Yahweh, forming the basis for a relationship with Yahweh. This theme is sounded in many other verses and passages, such as the flow of thought in Deuteronomy 6:4ff.

By stark contrast, recall the events of Exodus 17. The Israelites in the wilderness thought God too removed, too uninvolved. He hadn't done a miracle lately.

Well, no, wait, that isn't true. He had! Just in the preceding chapter, Yahweh had brought quails and manna.

Okay, fine; but that was then. This is today. They don't want a dead, historical God, who used to do things. We don't want to be Deists. What has He done for us today? Because we're thirsty and fearful and angry and doubting and discontented and angry and disbelieving today. Forget what He said back in chapter ten about keeping faith alive by feeding on God's past acts of faithfulness. That isn't enough! A memory of God isn't enough!

Is God pleased with this spirit? Does He say, "I'm so delighted that My people aren't content with book-religion and 'trust and obey'! It so honors Me that they seek a continual flow of signs and wonders from Me"?

Not so much. Hear what Moses, the servant of Yahweh says: "And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah [Testing and Quarreling], because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, 'Is the LORD among us or not?'" (Exodus 17:7).

The people are faulted for not trusting God, not taking Him at His word, in the face of a difficulty. A new challenge comes, the past is forgotten, the Word is forgotten, and all bets are off. The whiners demand a sign, a miracle, to prove God's presence. This demand clearly displeases Yahweh. So clearly He expected them to remember His past deeds and His word, and trust Him on that basis — not demand a fresh "proof."

Nor is this passage isolated and dropped in the flow of revelation. God Himself later holds up this very incident as a warning. He speaks — not of their godly, miracle-loving faith, but — of their hard-hearted unbelief (Psalm 95:7-11). He warns successive generations of Israelites not to follow the example of the people at Massah / Meribah.

So important was the point, that God renewed this very warning centuries later, after the advent of the Spirit and the inauguration of the New Covenant. He moved the writer of Hebrews to apply the warning to believers under the New Covenant as well (Hebrews 3:7-12). It is a lengthy and pointed quotation, rehearsal, and urgent application of this very warning: don't be like them!

The message is the same in all these passages: take the Word of God to heart. Learn! Rehearse! Remember! Don't forget (cf. Deuteronomy 8 passim)!

It is the polar opposite of the rootless, discontented, antsy, restless, roving-eyed attitude that constantly demands more, more, more and other, other, other.

So, I'm wondering. To my mind, "Charismatic" is too positive of a term for this sort of person, the person. It doesn't fit the poor soul who could never content himself with a ministry of the Word, without zings and ka-zams, without fakery and special effects. It doesn't describe the sort of person who runs about to this and that reported outburst of signs and wonders and prophecies, rather than staying planted under the steady ministry of the Word.

It isn't an apt label for the sort of person who's disinterested in our discussions here of the Cross, atonement, gospel, ministry, church, grace, the Word, Christian living, or a thousand other Biblical truths — but who always pops up to repeat long-discredited arguments used to keep the movement on life-support.

Would "Massaites" be a better name?

Or "Meribites"?

Maybe better, but it probably wouldn't work. Not in a generation of professed Christians who are stumped by "here I raise mine Ebenezer."

Sad upon sad.

(And we still have to come up with something better than "Cessationism"!)

Dan Phillips's signature

154 comments:

Frank Turk said...

Part of me wants to say, "The term you're looking for is 'Christians'", but I don;t want to start that kind of fight. It's also uncharitable.

mKhulu said...

Maybe "Bereans"?

Nick said...

Hey, what about replacing 'cessationist' with 'realist' and 'charismatic' with 'hypnotist'?

Rick Frueh said...

When God had promised Abraham about a son, Abraham became impatient and manipulated Ishmael into existence. The same happens today when people grow impatient with God and manipulate their own signs and wonders.

A new name for a cessationaist?

"I think they've ceasedist"

R said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Randy Talley said...

Sola Scripturions? OR would that be Scripturia? Scripturiae?

Sufficientists?

And I suppose the signs & wonders crowd could be the "add-er to-ers".

John Fitzsimmons said...

What about being the first cessationist ever to come up with an in context prooftext? NOT A ROUND THE WORLD AND BACK THROUGH HISTORY AND CHURCH TRADITION AND EXPERIENCE CONFUSING ARGUMENT that lumps a pile of scriptures together to try and prove that another part of scripture isn't for today. No a rightly used clear prooftext or two or three for the first time.

Or is there none of those in the bible?

Pete said...

Sufficientists gets my vote.

There's many more, of course: Bereans for example.

DJP said...

Ooh, Scripturions. I like it. It's like "Centuri0n."

Although I do picture someone dressed in shiny, metallic "futuristic" clothes from '50s sci-fi movies.

DJP said...

Welcome to your first time ever visit to this or my blog, John Fitzsimmons.

Pete said...

John,

Occam's Razor states that "the argument that requires the least number of presuppositions is the better argument".

That is often misunderstood to mean "the shortest, or most easy to understand argument is the better argument".

What's the problem here? The problem here is that the continuationist/charismatic argument makes lots of presuppositions that people aren't aware of, or don't allow into the discussion in order to allow them to use prooftexts.

The reason why cessationists use Biblical Theology in this way is to demosntrate that when we use the Bible's own presuppositions, then cessationism makes sense from the text.

Any way, you're criticism is hardly fair, as this post makes a very simple case from some texts in Exodus, and does't rely on church history at all.

donsands said...

"One "continuationist" argument goes: God did signs and wonders to establish the Gospel. He needs to do the same today."

The Gospel is the power, not the signs and wonders.

The rich man in hell wanted Lazarus to go and tell his brothers to repent, but Abraham said the rasiing from the dead won't convince them, they have the Scriptures, and if they reject the word of God, they won't believe even with a man raised from the dead.

Johnny Dialectic said...

And one plea for a miraculous sign was met with, “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’"

Trust and Obeyers?

DJP said...

Guess the modern crowd would call Abraham a Deist too, eh, Don?

DJP said...

Johnny - Pistopeithians?

Nah; you'd have to know Greek.

/c:

John Fitzsimmons said...

No i've been checking your blog out for 2 years and commented one or twice - in agreement. I love your blog and agree with you on almost everything else but the cessationist thing. I'm not a 'Charismaniac', but am a careful continualist. Think C. J. Mahaney.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Oh, I see donsands just posted a similar thought. See? Calvinists and Arminians CAN agree!

DJP said...

"careful continualist"

Making me a wreckless pistopeithian.

(I write with a smile)

John Fitzsimmons said...

Yea Pete but i've heard and read many cessationist arguement that do and didn't want another after commenting. That sound pretty fair to me.

Thanks for your input.

Johnny Dialectic said...

BTW, I love Pistopeithian. It has a rugged, street cred sound.

The Detroit Pistopeithians.

Etc.

Frank Turk said...

John --

So tell us, my careful friend, who today is doing what Peter did in Acts 3 or what Jesus did in John 5.

Because that's what's at stake -- not whether God answers prayer, or that we should rejoice when He does. What's at stake is whether what God did to and through the Apostles (and the prophets) is what ought to be manifest in the church today.

That's what you say is continuing, right? If not, your complaint here is going to look suspiciously like, well, my argument.

DJP said...

Plus, if someone's not writing Scripture, "it" isn't "continuing."

John Fitzsimmons said...

even careful bible lovers come to different conclusions :)

stratagem said...

Dan: May I suggest that we call continualists by the term "Christian Jabberwockians" and the rest of us be "Christian non-Jabberwockians" ??

donsands said...

"See? Calvinists and Arminians CAN agree!"

The Lord predestined those two comments.

Rick Frueh said...

The absence of signs and wonders today is circumstantial evidence. But where is the Scriptural smoking gun?

Chad V. said...

Those who would call cessationists "Deists" show that they have either no idea what a Deist is or they have no regard for the truth. The redefinition of terms is nothing short of a fancy way of breaking the 9th commandment.

Unfortunately DJP, I think we are stuck with the term "cessationist". It is at least an accurate term in so far as it's properly applied to what cessationists believe.

Daryl said...

Rick,

Isn't the argument that the gun isn't smoking any longer...?

Rick Frueh said...

"Isn't the argument that the gun isn't smoking any longer...?"

Yes, but where is that clearly taught? When some say they are "careful cessationits" do they mean they are not dogmatic or do they mean they hold out some loopholes?

The signs and wonders as evidenced in Acts have obviously ceased. Whether that is a fire wall dispensation or whether God is no longer using them but still could is the question.

And that question can only be answered by the teaching of Scripture which doesn't deal with the subject at all, unless you include a murky and expansive interpretation of I Cor. 13. Most cessationists present their argument on circumstantial evidence and logical inferences.

DJP said...

There's someone here who keeps making that same "argument," getting well and thoroughly answered, and then making it again as if for the first time.

I'm trying to remember - is that you, Rick?

Phil Johnson said...

John Fitzsimmons: "What about being the first cessationist ever to come up with an in context prooftext?"

I can't imagine why so many people are stymied by arguments like that. There are lots of important truths for which we have no single "prooftext," including the doctrine of the Trinity and the completion of the NT canon.

So before you start demanding "prooftexts," why not answer the challenge I put on the table here some three years ago?

You show me one example of someone today who has an apostolic-quality gift of healing or prophecy, and I'll dump my belief that those gifts ceased in the first century.

Rick Frueh said...

Dan - that is me except for the thouroughly answered part. That is you?

"You show me one example of someone today who has an apostolic-quality gift of healing or prophecy, and I'll dump my belief that those gifts ceased in the first century."

Exactly. That would be experience driven theology, no?

James Kubecki said...

Since we cessationists believe that sign gifts were for the apostolic era only, why not call ourselves "apostolics"?

Yep, that ought to clear things right up.

Daryl said...

Rick,

Does the closing of the canon qualify as "experience driven theology"?

Stan McCullars said...

I like James Kubecki's apostolics.

A name with a touch of irony.

Rick Frueh said...

Daryl - that is a great question. I would suggest that needs to be taken by faith and with the belief that all writers had seen Christ, including Paul.

How can we know if someone writes another book and says it is from God? I am only contending that the signs have ceased, but the Scriptures do not state that catagorically. The canan thing is a great topic though.

John Fitzsimmons said...

I was reading your last post Frank and Deut 12:32 - 13:5 came to my mind. In the OT signs and wonders could be from God, but they could equally be from false "prophets or dreamers." From where i'm standing such teaching does not exclude the miraculous, but places the importance on walking after God and fearing him and obeying his voice. It is not by miricles that we judge people, it's by what they teach. I know you'll agree with that.

For example Todd Bentley claims miricles, but he teaches nonsence (if he teaches at all). So it's not hard for a person who truly believes in scripture as the final authority on all matters to come to the conclusion that he's a false teacher. For those who follow him, well sadly they have failed God's test because they loved the miricles more than God and his Word.

As a continualist I don't pursue signs and wonders - that would be extremely dangerous - I pursue God through his Word. Also I don't expect signs and wonders to happen everyday (if they did they would not be signs and wonders they'd be normal), but as the Spirit wills.

However i'm simply open to the possibilty that God could one of these days (and already has in smaller ways) fix my eyes on someone like Peter in Acts three and tell me to say rise up and walk and Oh what an opportunity that would give me to point to the surpassing greatness of Jesus my all-sufficient saviour in an Irish Catholic town that believes a false gospel!

Jugulum said...

Rick,

"I would suggest that needs to be taken by faith and with the belief that all writers had seen Christ, including Paul."

I don't know about that line... Someone today could claim to have seen Christ the same way that Paul did.

Solameanie said...

Two comments. First, I am always mindful of Jesus' words, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign."

Second, I never thought I'd live to see the day when the Stone's "lips and tongue" logo would grace the cover of TeamPyro. One of these days when we're sitting across from each other enjoying a cup of English Breakfast or Tetley's, I'll have to tell you why Mick Jagger grosses me out so much.

Can't you guys find a good Genesis logo instead? They've got several, and they're pretty classy.

John Fitzsimmons said...

Actually Phil John chapters 14-16 and Matt 3:16-17 are brilliant prooftexts for the trinity and not the only ones as i'm sure you know! It's the word 'trinity' that's not in the bible, but the prooftexts are there.

I'll take your experienced based question, as a challenge.

You look for a prooftext and i'll look for an example of a valid apostolic ministry today. ;)

DJP said...

Let's try this, Rick, see if it makes any penetration.

When a POSITION depends on DEMANDING an EXPERIENCE, it is a valid response to point out that NO ONE has EVER HAD that EXPERIENCE.

How about that? Did that help you get unstuck?

MarieP said...

Sufficientists gets my vote too!

John Fitzsimmons said...

Also Rev 22:18-21 ring any bells?

Rick Frueh said...

Dan - Our positions are by faith in the Word. If our position (doctrine) rests upon a visual display, then it has become untethered to Scripture and therefore is by sight and not faith.

Herod demanded a display and was refused. There is also the possibility that any display is not authentic and our eyes have deceived us. This issue is a Scriptural one, not one of seeing it. Jesus could not do miracles in his own town, many would have drawn the wrong conclusion.

My contention comes without an air of certainty and without any disrespect for your view.

Johnny T. Helms said...

Perhaps "neo-Corinthians?"

DJP said...

Please follow along, Rick. We really don't mind pointing newbies to answers they can't know, but it's a bit much to exp[ect us to answer the SAME question from the SAME person over and over again.

The continuationist position claims to affirm that nothing's changed since Pentecost, basically.

We point out that they're wrong, beyond rational argument. The facts of history are overwhelming and unambiguous.

Therefore, their interpretation is wrong.

It's the arrogant fool who picks ONE interpretation and insists on standing on it, literally no matter what.

You go to Joshua's long day and tell me that the passage teaches that the Sun orbits the earth. After saying that your interpretation is false, I point to overwhelming evidence to the contrary and suggest that you reconsider your interpretation.

If you do as you do here, you simply call that an argument from experience, and insist on a geocentric universe, no matter what the consequences to the name and cause of Christ — in the mistaken name of "faith."

Truth and facts never contradict. The facts contradict the continuationalitarian position. Therefore it, and its interpretation, are wrong.

Rick Frueh said...

Dan - your preambles aside, which Scriptures are being misinterpreted?

DJP said...

Nope, Rick. Not one more answer until you say, "I was wrong. I won't use that 'argument from experience' dodge in this connection ever again."

John Fitzsimmons said...

high five to Rick

Rick Frueh said...

Dan - if you contend that Scripture is not always necessary and that overwhelming evidence can suffice to arrive at a "position", then I agree, in that case you are correct.

Perhaps that may remove the "arrogant fool" from my portfolio.

DJP said...

"Scripture is not always necessary"?

You're not listening, Rick. Which is where we started: you've been answered. You apparently don't want the answer, you just love hiding behind the question.

So, every time you drag out this shoddy canard, I'm going to point out that you've been answered, won't listen, and direct others to waste no time with you on it.

Or I'll just delete it, so good folks' time won't be wasted on someone who doesn't want to learn, in this one area.

John Fitzsimmons said...

djp, but their are evidences of people being healed and of prophectic words that are spot on being spoken into peoples lives today. The miricles I have hosestly experienced may no be as spectaclar as some of those I read in the bible, but they give me the faith to believe that God still gifts his church as a body for NT apostolic ministry.

If the bible told me it doesn't happen today, I'd reject it as not being God. However how can I reject it when I've experienced something of apostolic ministry. I believe primarily because of scripture and secondly because of personal experience!

DJP said...

If it's true that you're experiencing "NT apostolic ministry," John, then you're the first to do so since the first century.

Could you point us to the newspaper articles and medical journal entries from your area confirming? There would be hundreds, or thousands of them if it's true.

Also, please point us to the new, God-breathed Scriptures produced from your group. I would hope they'd contain an explanation as to why these gifts have been dormant for 1900 years, but have only now revived, and only in one group.

Thanks.

Johnny Dialectic said...

"djp, but their are evidences of people being healed and of prophectic words that are spot on being spoken into peoples lives today."

Don't we need to keep making the distinction between miracles and WORKERS of miracles? For the latter, in an Apostolic version, there is no example whatever. Or, when there supposedly is, it turns out to be a charlatan. What does this tell us?

John Fitzsimmons said...

11 years ago I had asthma and suffered from a severe chest infection 3 winters in a row. A friend and another person prayed for me just before I went to bed at a young adults weekend one night. I've honestly never needed an inhaler since and have never had another chest infection.
Praise God.

Also when my mother was pregnant with my younger brother. When it came to the time of birth, the doctors told my dad and mum that he was dead, as there was no heartbeat. They tried a number of times to find a heartbeat with no luck. If my mum hadn't have been so stuborn with the doctors they would have terminated the pregnacy. My mum persuaded them to wait until moring a try one last time. This would have been her second miscarriage in a row. A group of Christian friends prayed. The next day they found a heartbeat.

Do they fit into your understanding of apostolic ministry?

John said...

Dan,

Very strong arguments and line of reasoning!

Only problem is, those who you are arguing against don't pay attention to strong arguments or reasoning.

Daryl said...

John,

If I may...those stories are not examples of what the cessationist says doesn't happen.
James is clear that when we pray, God sometimes heals. All Christians believe that.

But that is different that Paul saying "Get up and walk" as an attestation to the message he is preaching.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that we cessationists are anti-supernaturalists. We're not. No Christian is. That would be Deism.

But praying for healing and recieving it is not the same as "Call Bill, when he touches people they are healed."

John Fitzsimmons said...

Daryl. so for example, you wan't me to give an example of commanding a sickness to leave someone under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Would that be your understanding of apostolic ministry?

John Fitzsimmons said...

I take your point djp. I personally haven't experienced anything like what I read in the NT, but neither I am convinced by your arguments today.

We'll find out whose right in heaven, if not before.

Phil Johnson said...

John Fitzsimmons: "Do they fit into your understanding of apostolic ministry?"

Are you asking that in all seriousness, or are you trying to yank my chain?

(I'll assume the former.)

What I asked for was an example of someone who manifests an apostolic-quality gift of healing or prophecy.

I'll grant that (assuming you have given us true and complete facts of the two instances you cited) those are nice examples of answered prayer, but no one here has ever questioned whether God answers prayer.

What your examples aren't is evidence for the continuation of miraculous gifts--i.e., where someone has the ability to heal or prophecy reliably and miraculously.

Your examples wouldn't even qualify as bona fide "miracles." I'd classify them as remarkable acts of Providence and wonderful examples of how God answers prayer. (See here and here for a couple of places where I have discussed the difference.)

Phil Johnson said...

John Fitzsimmons:

Regarding your "proof texts" for the Trinity and cessationism: I'm sure you realize there are numerous disputed questions about both doctrines your "proof texts" don't answer. For example, someone who believes the canon is still open is going to dismiss your Revelation verse as a statement about the book of Revelation, and not the canon per se. In order to "prove" the closure of the canon (which, BTW, is a cessationist opinion by definition), you're going to have to go beyond that text.

So your "proof texts" turn out to be no stronger than the argument of someone who cites 1 Corinthians 13:8 as "proof" that tongues have ceased.

In any of these disputed doctrines, you have do do some sanctified logic. Neither demanding proof texts nor relying on them, is a sensible way to do theology.

John Fitzsimmons said...

well i'm sure the debate will continue even if you don't believe signs and wonders do. ;)

Thanks for your time and discussion

Chat with you's again sometime

Phil's given me my homework, so I better go and do it like a good little boy

Take care and sola scriptura

stratagem said...

Could you point us to the newspaper articles and medical journal entries from your area confirming? There would be hundreds, or thousands of them if it's true.

Dan - just for clarification of your position, are you saying that God doesn't perform healing miracles at all, in this age? Or, are you making a more specific claim that he doesn't gift healers, per se, as he did in the Apostolic age? I think you're making the latter claim and not the former, but I wanted to make sure. Thanks.

blackreformingkid said...

I don't think we'll ever find a better word or a new one to redefine these terms. It's like Calvinist and Arminian - they're here to stay/

DJP said...

Stratagem, it's about revelatory and attesting gifts. Always has been. As Phil clarified, it isn't about whether God answers prayer, and chooses to heal. Never has been.

The Seeking Disciple said...

What about the term "biblical disciples"?

stratagem said...

I had missed that, thanks Dan. Yes, I have never in my life seen anyone who has had a reliable and consistent ability to supernaturally heal on command. I'd bet that no one else has, either.

DJP said...

No, and it's a massive problem for the "continuationist" position. Because on their premises plus the Bible, these things should ALWAYS have been in evidence. The fabricated dodges of formalism, etc., just won't pass Biblical muster.

After all (as I've often pointed out), NON of the original tongue-speakers believed in the gift of tongues.

greglong said...
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greglong said...

New name for "cessationists"...

Hmmm...

How about "TERMINATORS", as we believe the gifts have been terminated ("Hasta la vista"!).

Has "foundationists" been suggested? (Eph. 2:20)

Dave Sherrill said...

Cessationist = Dispensational

Charismatic = Sensational

This way we would have much more in common than differences. After all, we would have 'ensational' in common. The only differences would be 'disp' vs. 's'.

DJP said...

All right, it may be time for an update. Skipping the entire article, everyone's working with the last sentence. Blogging is funny.

So, if I could do one of those little update boxes Phil does, I might; but here are the names suggested so far.

Christians
Bereans
Realists
I-think-they've-ceasedists
Sola Scripturions/a/ae
Sufficientists
Trust and Obeyers
Pistopeithians
Christian non-Jabberwockians
Apostolics
Neo-Corinthians
Biblical disciples
Terminators
Foundationalists
Dispensational

Daryl said...

Dave,

That'll create a little marital tension dontcha think?

As in, "Oh her, yeah, she's sensational." - SMACK- "No No, I mean she's continually sensational." - SMACK-SMACK-

witness said...

In my own experience with those of the "charismatic" persuasion they are never satisfied with what happened at church last week, but constantly seek bigger and more ecstatic experiences.

Inevitably just being witness to, or "used by the Spirit" (note tongue in cheek here) is not enough. The road of signs and wonders leads to coveting the role of producing said miracles.

I firmly believe the wicked desire for signs and wonders is rooted in the desire to be God.

So shoot me.

witness said...
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witness said...

Or, you could just call it old fashion unbelief.

stratagem said...

A late entry: How about continualists being "Confusionists" (not to be confused with Confucianists). As in throwing the church into confusion through signs and wonders, instead of it being orderly (as Paul noted).

Honestly, one of the reasons I left the pentecostal movement was because the culture there always assumed the craziest stuff as being the most authentic.

The other reason is that at a certain age, my brains finally came in.

I learned a lot from the experience.

Daryl said...

Stratagem,

On that note perhaps we replace "cessationist" with "orderliness...ist...ers"

MarieP said...

Happy-in-Jesus-ites?

The Free Church of Trust and Obey (Non-Continuing)?

The Society for the Prevention of Continuing Apostles?

The Frankophones?

SolaMommy said...

Heehee..."Sufficientists" :) I like that one.

Although, "Neo-Corinthians" sounds more Matrix-y, which I suppose would make it more culturally relevant. ;)

MarieP said...

The 1 Cor. 14:40 Task Force

And TeamPyro could write our manifesto: "What Saint Luke Really Said: Was the Beloved Physician the Real Founder of Charismaticism?"

Mesa Mike said...

Witness witnesseth thus:
> The road of signs and wonders leads
> to coveting the role of producing
> said miracles.

Just like Simon the sorcerer.

witness said...
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witness said...

Bingo! I knew there was a biblical precedent. There always is you know.

greglong said...

solamommy wrote:

Although, "Neo-Corinthians" sounds more Matrix-y, which I suppose would make it more culturally relevant. ;)

Loved it at first, but then I started thinking...do I really want to be known as a "new Corinthian"? ;-)

stratagem said...

No, "fine Corinthian leather" was what the seat covers of a 1975 Chrysler Cordova were made of.

I guess it's probably also what they use to bind new testaments.

Is this off-topic?

greglong said...

How 'bout "pauoists", from Greek of 1 Cor. 13:8? (Not to be confused with Maoists.)

Or, if you believe "the perfect" in 1 Cor. 13:10 refers to the completed canon of Scripture (not trying to start a debate here), then maybe "perfectionists"?

Michelle said...

Completists and incompletists.

The two ideas of the word "complete" indicate the subject has concluded, and it has all the necessary parts.

Apostolic signs and wonders were completed after the birth of the church. The canon of scripture and God's revelation are completely complete :) and sufficient - He has given us everything we need for life and godliness.

Completists are complete in Christ and His Word alone and are not to rely on their subjective emotional experiences for fulfillment or a sign of their "level of spirituality".

stratagem said...

Merge them into one movement: Cessationalists?

witness said...

But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, "This man is the power of God that is called Great." And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. ~Acts 8:9-11(ESV)

After mesa mike reminded me of Simon the magician from the book of Acts, I went back and read the account again. Notice the folks there in Samaria were utterly convinced the signs and wonders produced by Simon were of God. I wonder if they were using the same rule to measure the legitimacy of Simon's claims as the followers of Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, and Todd Bently? You know... Simon said so.

DJP said...

Michelle — I like it.

Michelle said...

One more thought ...

" ... His divine power has (past tense) granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness ..." 2 Peter 1:3

He has given us every spiritual resource we need to live the life He has called us to live.

MarieP said...

I'm Scripture-driven, post-apostolical, Biblergent, and cessational!

I am SOOOO relevant now!!!

DJP said...

LOL

I feel a Turk T-shirt coming.

Michelle said...

Marie:

Uh, you have to be a neo-something too, ya know? :)

MarieP said...

Neo-movemental?

(I kid you not...movemental is a word!)

Neo-dispensational would get some attention but overall would confuse folks.

Gummby said...

Sola Scripturions
I believe that's supposed to read "Sola Scripturi0ns."

DJP said...

Lackey.

MarieP said...

"Signs and wonders I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, take up and read!"

donsands said...

How about "RC Sproulians" vs. "CJ Mahaneyites"?

BTW, this post made me think of Joni, who one time was approached by a Christian, and he asked her if she thought she could have enough faith to walk again, and she said, "Right now, I need a whole lot of faith just to smile while I'm talking with you". (paraphrased0

Gummby said...

sidekick, flunky, toady, lackey;
if the supersuit fits...

Jason said...

One wonders why Jesus or Paul would warn people about false signs and wonders, (even to the point that if possible it could deceive the Elect) if there wasn't true sings and wonders going on at the same time.

DJP said...

Why would one wonder? Is there someone who suggests that signs and wonders weren't going on when Jesus and Paul spoke and wrote, respectively? Or suggests that there will not be false signs and wonders in the last day? I know of no one.

Or are you saying that there must be genuine miracles for there to be deceptive miracles? Hardly. Suppose there are NO acts of God today (which no Christian affirms). Even if there aren't, there are Christians who think there are. Therefore, there are believers who could conceivably by misled by false signs and wonders.

Which -- there are!

So really, it's not a point of much significance either way.

stratagem said...

Uh, you have to be a neo-something too, ya know? :)

Not me. I'm a neon-evangelical. I only enter a church if it has a "Gospel Lite" Sign blinking in the window.

SLW said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bo Salisbury said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michelle said...

Stratagem:

If you're a neon-evangelical, perhaps one who rejects a literal six-day creation could be an eon-evangelical :) Oops, off topic.

Mr Wizzard said...

I came up with this one after reading Dan's...
Super-calvevangelisticdispieexegetic
I'm not entirely sure how to fit cessation into there, or maybe its sufficiently covered already.

Chuck said...

Your colleague John MacArthur, in his lecture on the Emerging Church, reiterated the various false movements afflicting the church in the twentieth century and concluded, "it would be far simpler if we just stopped calling them churches".

In that vein I ask, why must we assume it is necessary to find some "common ground" or accomodation to this "movement"?

I argue the fundamental premise of your question is flawed.

Our Master said, "By their fruits you shall know them". Once again, Dr. MacArthur has supplied, I believe, the most apposite term to describe the movement:

Chaos.

Solameanie said...

Several times in this discussion, the term "apostolic" has come up. That brings me to a related thing that's going on largely among charismatic churches, and that is the supposed restoration of modern day "apostles."

Now, there is a sense today that you could have an apostolic ministry if all that means is "messenger." However, if by "apostolic" you mean in the same fashion as the original 12 plus Paul, then I have a problem. Does that mean that today's "apostolic" pronouncements are to be added to Scripture? Are the writings of today's "apostles" to be considered inspired and added to the Canon?

I've got pretty significant problems with such an idea.

Mac & Melissa Davis said...

I have found this debate to be the symptom of a larger problem. The most underdeveloped aspect of Christian theology is pneumatology. The creeds attempt at it...a bit, but the Holy Spirit has always been a peripheral subject of study. What does it mean to be pneumatakoi? Spirit people as Paul puts it.

We have Moses and the Prophets, thus we do not need miracles as 'proof'. But, does God the Holy Spirit work in power among people today? I think so, but He does not play to an audience. I think Muggeridge's first lecture in "Christ and the Media" explains best God's intentions. He prefers the intimate personal contact, not the big show.

The Doulos said...

solameanie, I agree with you on the use of the term 'apostolic'. And I think that ties into the clear point Dan has made here that calls the question. No one, even the most staunch cessationist, will deny that God can and does answer prayer today, and heal today, often in 'miraculous' ways and seemingly through certain people at times. But to extrapolate that kind of work that God has always done and continues to do to equate with the early church ministry of the Apostles is just wrong. The intensity and the quality of the 'signs and wonders' is just not there. So to say that the early church Apostolic gifts and their fruits are normative for today and still in effect is to deny 1) the evidence of the later epistles that show lessening of these gifts even in the NT church, and 2) the plain evidence of history. There just aren't any true apostolic ministers today, in the NT sense.

Re: a better term that "cessationist" - how about "rational Christians"?

MarieP said...

Rational? Hmmmm...I don't think that is helpful because the question is, "What is the Spirit of God still doing?" "Rational" supposes that the continuationists believe that the Spirit is still working and that the sufficientists do not.

MarieP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MarieP said...

And "sufficientists" doesn't mean we deny or minimize the Spirit's role in opening up God's Word to us.

Labels...gotta love 'em and hate 'em!

Mesa Mike said...

If we have "sufficientists" we probably also need "necessaryists."

Has this thread lived beyond its paygrade yet?

DJP said...

And, MMike, that's just about all about the last sentence in the post.

What if people actually started talking about all those sentences that came before?

Could DOUBLE!

(c;

Mesa Mike said...

Wait.
We're supposed to read the content of the post, not just its title?

Mesa Mike said...

OK, to address the actual point of the post (I think).

DJP seems to be saying that "charismatics" are just faithless people who can't believe in a God who doesn't provide constant bread and circuses for the emotions.

Could be part of it. Makes sense, even.

I think another part of it is a lot of people in the charismatic movement have drunk the you-can-be-a-god-too koolaid. They want the magical superpowers. That's why some of them have "healing" ministries. Or "deliverance" ministries. Or even wackier, like a mortuary outreach for raising the dead.

David Sheldon said...

Forgive me if I look like a "belaborist" in this blog. But it seems to me dan, et al are dead on in their arguments. So let me try to rephrase so that I might further share my thoughts with our continuationist brethren. It would seem that the bottom line is "What is the BIBLICAL reason given for God's signs?" Doesn't the BIBLE itself give us this answer? When we look at the Scriptures and we see God "doing signs" doesn't he also give us a Word and that the Word is paramount and the sign is "attesting?" Is He doing signs to be miraculous, in case we didn't know??? Does God "do signs" and then leave it to us to guess their meaning? Or has He in Scripture told us why they were done and what they mean? And since their "meaning" is for attesting to the authority of His Word delivered (through His agents) - and there is no new revelation (prophecy) after the apostles and prophets of the New Testament (hint,hint) - what would we expect? Are we inadvertantly thinking that God the Spirit and God the Word are somehow not on the same page and this is somehow "good" and "of faith" on our part??? (Or maybe I am just not being "open" - ARGGHH!). Is a Biblical sign to prove the Word delivered or is it for sign gifts to be believed by them, you or me? Think about that for a moment. I think Word delivered not Word or gifts "believed." God is acting - not men. And His act to attest with signs is just as objective and final as the finality of His Word delivered. (As is the finality/authentication of a true apostle - II Cor. 12:12)

Everyday Mommy said...

How about "Completists"?

trogdor said...

"DJP seems to be saying that "charismatics" are just faithless people who can't believe in a God who doesn't provide constant bread and circuses for the emotions."

The part of your assessment I disagree with is in italics. In the example that was quoted, God actually was supplying constant bread. He was continually giving them as much bread as they needed (including a double helping on the sixth day so they could take the Sabbath off). And that wasn't good enough for them - the daily provision became routine and was taken for granted, and they wanted a new, fresh, specatcular sign.

And that wasn't the only daily sign of God's presence and care they ignored. He was constantly before them as the pillar of cloud and fire.

In other words, the problem isn't that God didn't daily show his providence unmistakably. It's that they saw his continual care for them, and didn't think it was enough. They wanted cool, showy miracles, not providence. Even the showy miracles he'd performed not long before in delivering them from Egypt were long forgotten. We want more miracles (aside from the manna and the divine guidance/protection, of course), and we want them now.

So the problem for charismatics isn't that God doesn't provide constant bread. He most certainly does! The problem is that all the constant displays of providence - including the witness of scripture - just aren't enough to satisfy them. The problem is despising providence because it isn't fresh and flashy enough.

Stefan said...

I was away on a mini-vacation, so missed this whole show.

But just this Saturday morning, Mac & Melissa Davis pointed up something that may indeed be part of the problem.

Careful, extensive study of what the Holy Spirit does do in the post-apostolic age—and in contrast to what He doesn't do—seems to be a highly underdeveloped field of theological study...especially when compared to, say, eschatology, soteriology, sanctification, ecclesiology, or the like.

thesgc said...

Hi Dan,

I very much appreciate your point about how the Bible does not applaud those who continually crave miraculous signs.

I do have a question about a passage that may be related, but which I've struggled to understand. In 1 Cor. 2:4-5, Paul says that "my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God" (ESV). The interpretation I've often heard is that the "demonstration" refers to miracles.

It seems easy to go that way, but then it seems to be in tension with Paul rejecting the Jews' demands for signs and instead proclaiming the "foolish" gospel in the previous chapter. I'd be interested to get your take. Was the "demonstration" miracles that Paul did that were foundational to the people's faith, or is he referring to something else here?

Libbie said...

I just love how Frank is tip-toeing through this whole thing, delicately spreading his argument point by dainty point, and in stomps Dan with a whacking great meat chub and clobbers the opposing viewpoint.

You guys, you're all about carrot and biiig stick.

FWIW, I was just talking to a friend this week about how much more settled I feel now I am convinced I don't need to be waiting for a prophecy about various things, or seeking out Christian superpowers because it's my duty to desire theose things as a believer.

Dan makes a very good point that I would have expected to make a bigger ruckus in the comments, really. He just called charismatics lacking in faith, and I have to say I see the point, and also the irony, given how many times I've been told I'm lacking in faith because I don't believe Bob Gubbins has the gift of healing.

naturalsystah said...

This is my first post here, please go easy on me and help a sister out! I'm trying to get my head around all of this: do cessationists believe that the ONLY way that the Lord speaks to us today is through the Bible?

DJP said...

Happy to oblige, Systah. First, may I ask whether you checked out all the links in the article? Please do, if you haven't. You'll find a good answer to your question in the link that takes you to a post at my blog, titled "'Cessationism': ragged dress for a rich lady."

Here's the deal: there is no Biblical authority for using the phrase "God said," unless it is immediately followed by inerrant, prophetic, direct revelation. None.

So you either believe that the Bible contains His full revelation, sufficient for our age, that it is living and powerful (Hebrews 4:12), and the Holy Spirit speaks to us through it (Hebrews 3:7ff)...

...or you believe that Scripture is incomplete and insufficient, and God is still giving binding, authoritative, inerrant, direct revelation today.

In which case the Bible should be a whole bigger book, and should get larger every week.

Thesgc - I mean to return to your question later.

charlieontheT said...

As a Reform Charismatic myself, I'd like to add this to the discussion (if anyone is still listening.)

The scripture we hear at the end of Mark which seems to entice handling snakes.... seems suspiciously like Satan's temptation to Christ to cast himself down from the roof of the temple.

Blog on, Black. Love the po-mo posters ;)

Scott Bailey said...

Whether you are a "Cessationist" or a "Continuationist" I use some terms that I think aptly describe those that are probably better described as hyper-charismatics: Bentley, King, Crowder, Jones, New Apostolic crowd etc.

The two terms I use are neo-Gnostics and neo-Montanists. They are gnostic in their teaching and their "revealed secrets" with a good dash of middle-platonism thrown in. And anyone familiar with Montanus will know why such a characterization is made.

The early church rightly rejected those perversions then and should reject them now when they dominate the "theology" of experience only seeking dilettantes.

RD said...

Gotta say, this is one excellent post. New to your blog, but I'm sure I'll be back. I'm an "in-the-closet" cessationist who's just recently started an anonymous blog to get some of my thoughts off my chest. I really appreciate everything said in this post: spot on. And for those looking for Scriptural warrant for cessationism, allow me to recommend my paltry offerings on my blog.

Once again - thank you for talking about this. You're on the blog roll!

Jason said...

DJP

Mark Driscoll considers himself to be a charismatic with a seat belt, I would consider my self a continualist in a straight Jacket.

I can't see in the scriptures were the gifts have been done away with.

Does God still heal? Yes.
Does He still Speak? Yes. (I say yes because the bible still speaks) as far as the usual charismatic usage of prophesy I have serious doubts.

Does God still do wonders. Yes.
What's more wonderful then an unregenerate becoming regenerated? which is harder?

I like the word continualist mainly
because it distances one from Charismatics.

One think is very clear, and that is that signs and wonders mean nothing in and of themselves. Paul tells us in II Thes. 2:9 that the Man of Lawlessness does SaW, but Paul mentions in II Cor. 12:12 that he did SaW. SaW don't necessarily validate the messenger, but it can.
Jesus himself didn't put any trust in them (John 2:24-24). People don't get saved because of signs and wonders. Its by His calling and electing in love.

Hence I usual sound more like a 'Christian' as Frank turk said in jest.

But in times like these I side with John Piper. (thats called name dropping.) And see no reason for the ceasing of the gifts today.

Jason

Mike Riccardi said...

Jason,

::Sigh::

You've not read the post or the comments, have you?

Every point you make for why the gifts have continued have nothing to do with gifts.

All three of the Pyro's have agreed with everything you said in support for your position. In fact, the rationale you give for the opposite position they take reads almost exactly like their concessions and clarifications.

Frank: So tell us, my careful friend, who today is doing what Peter did in Acts 3 or what Jesus did in John 5.

Because that's what's at stake -- not whether God answers prayer, or that we should rejoice when He does. What's at stake is whether what God did to and through the Apostles (and the prophets) is what ought to be manifest in the church today.

That's what you say is continuing, right? If not, your complaint here is going to look suspiciously like, well, my argument.


Phil: What I asked for was an example of someone who manifests an apostolic-quality gift of healing or prophecy.

I'll grant that (assuming you have given us true and complete facts of the two instances you cited) those are nice examples of answered prayer, but no one here has ever questioned whether God answers prayer.

What your examples aren't is evidence for the continuation of miraculous gifts--i.e., where someone has the ability to heal or prophecy reliably and miraculously.


Dan: Stratagem, it's about revelatory and attesting gifts. Always has been. As Phil clarified, it isn't about whether God answers prayer, and chooses to heal. Never has been.

Look. The fact that God heals miraculously has nothing at all to do with whether God bestows the gift of healing on particular men.

Sharon said...

Mike Riccardi:
Look. The fact that God heals miraculously has nothing at all to do with whether God bestows the gift of healing on particular men.

Word!

And that, in a nutshell, is the bottom line.

Clint said...

"Meanwhile, the contrary position, which features robust affirmation of the sufficiency of God's living and dynamic Word, has to wear the rags of the negative term "Cessationism.""

Wow, its hard to figure out who you've deemed "the good guy" (sarcasm). Okay, Affirmer of God's Living and Dynamic Word...where are the robust and countless verses that say Jesus isn't glorified by miraculous signs of the Holy Spirit anymore?

Mike Riccardi said...

::My hand::




::My forehead::




TTTTHHHHHWWWAAAAPPP!

Mike Riccardi said...

If anyone's wondering why I'm a tad bit impatient, it's because this is the guy that everyone seems to be arguing with, not Dan.

Anyway, bedtime for me.

MadTownGuy said...

I think to clarify the issues, we must go back to Dan's original statement that proponents of the current movements have redfined the charismata.

When Dan talks about 'signs and wonders,' he means things like blind people given their sight (John 9), lame people given back the use of their legs (John 5, Acts 3) and actual dead people being actually brought back to life (John 11). He means the spiritual gift of tongues as demonstrated in Acts 2, 10, 19, and I Corinthians 12. He means authoritative prophetic utterances (which I'll get back to further down).

When many Pentecostals and charismatics (though not all of them) talk about 'signs and wonders' they mean healings as promoted by guys like Benny Hinn, A.A. Allen, William Branham and a host of others. (More about them in a minute.) They mean large groups of people all speaking nonsense syllables at once. They mean people 'drunk in the spirit' or 'slain in the spirit,' 'soaking,' or saying 'Thus saith the Lord,' but also, as Mike Bickle said at one point, "shooting blanks" by occasionally missing a prediction.

These are two different things. It's not that hard to figure out. Early in my Christian experience I attended a charismatic prayer meeting in someone's home. The activities consisted of the leader yelling at us in tongues "Seetah saanaah! Seetah SAABA saanah! Ohh shandala seetah saanah!" He would then walk around the living room and either touch or whack us on the forehead to slay us in the spirit. At the beginning of one of the meetings someone timidly asked if we could open with a Bible reading and maybe a bit of study. He spat back (literally) "We're not here to study the BIBLE! We're here to have EXPERIENCES!!!"

That, in my mind, sums up the difference between the core groups on either side of the charismatic question. So the terms are defined differently and when one group talks about signs and wonders they mean something entirely different than what I see in the pages of the Word.

Now about prophetic utterances and word-of-knowledge utterances, the true measures are the same as they've always been. First, does the prophecy or utterance come true (Deut. 18:22), and second, is it consistent with God's revealed will in His Word (Deut. 13:1-3)? I believe when Paul is talking about prophecy being evaluated by others in the local congregation (I Cor. 14:29-33) he is referring to exactly those tests, which leaves no more leeway for false prophecies in the NT context any more than there was in the OT. The only difference was in the immediate penalty. There is a consequence for speaking presumptuously in the name of God but it doesn't come from the hands of fellow believers; rather there is a terrifying expectation of judgment.

To understand whether or not the current phenomena bring glory to Jesus as we know is the aim of the Holy Spirit, we should therefore measure not the phenomena but the fruit that has come from some of the major players. So what have we seen from the Pentecostal and charismatic side?
- Heresy (William Branham, A.A. Allen, the United Pentecostals, Todd Bentley)
- Debauchery (Terry Hornbuckle, Paul Cain, Bob Jones, Earl Paulk)
- Greed (Creflo Dollar, Juanita Bynum, Kenneth Copeland)
- Spiritual abuse (Derek Prince, Bob Weiner, Rice Broocks, Phil Aguilar)
...and the list goes on.
There was an article by Stephen Strang in Charisma a few years back that lamented the fact that out of the ministry leaders featured on the covers of Charisma in the 1980s, ten eventually endured embarrassing scandals; two of the six megachurches featured in a series called "Outstanding Churches of America" disbanded because of moral failures. I'm always willing to venture an uneducated opinion about such things, and in this case I think it's because there is a carnal tendency toward radical subjectivism, to follow leadings wherever they lead, even if away from Scripture. And I don't think it's hard to connect the dots from Wesley through Fletcher, then Parham and Seymour, all the way to the abuses and excesses we see today. The basic premise seems to be that the Gospel is not enough - there must be an additional experience to demonstrate that God is for now and not just the pages of some old love letter.

The fruit of these movements, from Charles Parham to Todd Bentley and beyond, has overwhelmingly tilted more toward what I see in Galatians 5:20-21 and not what I see in Galatians 5:22-23. Shouldn't I be concerned?

Finally, I think it's only right to mention the kind of things that DO glorify Jesus, real acts of the Holy Spirit that point people to Him and bring souls into His kingdom. They're happening every day in coffeehouses, churches large and small, in homes and in workplaces all over the world wherever God's people are truly yielded to His Spirit. It's not manifested in experience-chasing but in day by day faithfulness to the miraculous revelations in God's Word and in working out our salvation in fear and trembling. Not flashy, but eternally significant.

DJP said...

Very well-said, MTG.

MadTownGuy said...

Now back to Dan's original question: "Is there a better name for signs-n-wonders Charismatics?" I think it's best answered by what the Bible calls people who have a sincere faith in Christ - it's that moniker given in derision to the disciples in Antioch, "Christians." It was good enough for Peter (1 Pet. 4:16) and it suits me just fine. And it can apply across the board to 'continualists' and 'cessationists' so long as they have that sincere faith in Christ. I'm not talking about a "let's all sit around the campfire and have a Kumbayah moment;" I am talking about uniting around the right things, around the basics of the faith delivered once for all to the saints, and lining up with God's Word as He grants understanding and insight as to how we apply it. So maybe Centuri0n's first comment was not so uncharitable after all.

naturalsystah said...

Thanks djp, I shall certainly check those links out.

I've only forsaken pentecostalism fairly recently, have heard of and embraced the doctrines of grace and am rethinking my theology on the gifts as well as other things and this site looks very informative indeed...

simplemann said...

@MadTownGuy:

Well said, brother.

Peace & Blessings,
Simple Mann

Natrimony said...

I'm fond of neo-Montanists in lieu of Charismatics. But, I suppose that would be about as palatable as Meriabites for our pomo compadres.

NickS said...

I didn't read all the comments before typing this. The point the author of the article misses is "people have spiritual experiences today". This is not some mass hysteria that results in a "charismatic" congregation or event. Real people of all walks of life and intellectual accomplishments are experiencing the power of God in supernatural ways. Why this experience isn't a broader corporate experience I don't know - only God does. When intelligent and honest people share their personal "encounters with the Holy Spirit" what is the point of disproving them biblically, especially when there is so much biblical evidence of God working supernaturally through His Holy Spirit? If you haven't had such an experience are you justifying your own experiences through your exegesis under the guise of setting people straight? Are you reacting to small minorities of people who seek glory for themselves and abuse spiritually? God's revelation is not something we can own.

Alexander M. Jordan said...

Hi Dan:

When I began writing a blog a few years ago I probably would have considered myself a "careful Charismatic".

Then by God's providence, my wife was dealing with a chronic illness. A large part of what had drawn us toward the charismatic message was its promise of physical healing. But we found that the message as presented only was an encouragement if you happened to get healed-- otherwise, you felt condemned as one lacking enough faith to be healed.

Providentially, through encounters with blogs like yours and other reformed teaching on the internet, I began to investigate reformed teaching. I finally became convinced of the truth of the doctrines of grace, and soon I and my family transitioned to what I thought would be better-- Reformed Charismaticism.

Still, though now reformed, there didn't seem to be much good practical teaching on how one could practice such things as tongues or prophecy in a biblical way, and still be true to reformed insights.

Again by God's providence, my wife and I began attending a Reformed Baptist church, mainly because it was closer to home than the reformed charismatic church. This church we now attend also happens to be cessationist.

So I have been re-considering for some time now cessationist arguments I'd previously dismissed. They are making a lot more sense to me now.

And putting it all this together in respect to the topic of healing, I have been doing a series on my blog that biblically assesses the popular charismatic teaching on healing, from a reformed perspective. The articles may be of interest since they critique both the WOF and the Signs & Wonders movements with their "miracle healing" approach.

I even show how Todd Bentley's foundational teaching is the same as that of many others in Word-Faith-- the idea of a "healing in the atonement" that is supposed to guarantee physical healing today.

Anyway, as some have said in previous comments, I think the reformed approach to faith returns us to a Word-based, rather than an experience-driven, walk with with the Lord which, though not flashy, still is marked by the power of the Holy Spirit.

In His grace,

Alex

CR said...

PJ: Your examples wouldn't even qualify as bona fide "miracles." I'd classify them as remarkable acts of Providence and wonderful examples of how God answers prayer. (See here and here for a couple of places where I have discussed the difference.)


I think your second link is a great clarifying of what the defintion of miracles or signs and wonders. Miracles or signs and wonders are deeds manifesting great power, with the implication of some supernatural force.

I think what is sad, other than the mischaracterization by our Charismatic friends of what miraces are is the complete missing by them of the power of the Lord that is shown in His providence.

For Christians, it actually should be easier to believe in miracles than to see God's power in providence. Yes, I understand that actual miracles are uncommon. And one might, argue, since they are uncommon, shouldn't one be amaze when a miracle occurs. But, I mean, Christians should easily believe in a miracle by God, because, well, He is all powerful and you can easily embrace the face He is just doing something really all-powerful in an instant. But, to see the Lord working through history through millions of decisions and events and Him being in control of every single event without using some visible supernatural force - now that's harder to believe than God just doing one quick wham bam miracle.

This is I think is one of the great errors of Charismatics even more damaging that wanting to see signs and wonders. They've taken away the wonder and amazement of God's power working in providence through millions of events (think about all the events in human history that got to be so that you were born). In other words, instead of Christians being amazed at God working through providence, they got some Christians looking for the supernatural gifts.

Mesa Mike said...

NickS:
> When intelligent and honest people
> share their personal "encounters
> with the Holy Spirit" what is the
> point of disproving them
> biblically,

You have a problem with using Scripture to expose error?


> especially when there is so much
> biblical evidence of God working
> supernaturally through His Holy
> Spirit?

Ah, yes. That begs the question, doesn't it?

David Sheldon said...

Instead of "cessationist" how about a word associated with the text of Hebrews 2:3. "confirm" (corroborate, attest).
"For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. NASB
Too bad "confirmist" isn't an
English word. (yet)

DJP said...

Or, given that the confirmation here is viewed has having been completed, "Confirmedist"?

I keep thinking there's probably a good Latin word just waiting to help us out.

Mesa Mike said...

> I keep thinking there's probably a
> good Latin word just waiting to
> help us out

Sola-Scriptura-ist?

Wait. Sola-Scriptura-but-informed-by-general-revelation-ist.

Grrr. That's only partly Latin.
Is there really a Latin word for all that?

DJP said...

"Soloist?"

David Sheldon said...

DJP - You are absolutely correct - "confirmedist" - well - let me go get my Latin Dictionary.

simplemann said...

Confirmedian? Ah, the beauty of English... if you can't find (or borrow) the right word, just make one up! It's a very "egalimentarian" language that way. :)

Peace & Blessings,
Simple Mann

aworthydiscussion said...

Well for me this argument is about as fruitful as the millenial arguement. There are plenty Charasmatic "gifts" we could theologise away, but doesn't it strike you as odd that Paul would go to pains to explain all the gifts? Why are they there in Corinthians? I know they're not primary, but come on - can someone show me why Paul would write about them if they no longer exist?

DJP said...

We've actually written about this many times.

Paul treated of them because they were happening. He said one day the revelatory gifts no longer would (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).

I don't think refusing to change Scripture's definition of the gifts, so as to accommodate modern counterfeits, is "theologizing away."