Labels are a necessary evil. Few of them really capture a position sufficiently, but the alternatives just don't work. What chafes is the frequent necessity of using a well-known label for the sake of communication, but knowing that with it comes unwanted baggage and connotations.
And so for instance — as I've posed before — what do you call yourself if you unreservedly affirm the sufficiency of Scripture and the Holy Spirit's definition of the nature, role and ministry of His gifts and works? What are you? Decades ago, there wasn't a well-known name, then along comes "cessationism."
And so, though we affirm a robustly positive and vibrant position, we find ourselves stuck with negative label. We're stuck with describing ourselves by what we don't think is currently happening. If it's a PR battle, we lose from the outset. I tried suggesting a more negative (and more accurate) label for the opposition but, as expected, it went nowhere.
I've long wanted (and called for) a positive word, connoting the robust fullness of the position, the happy and God-honoring affirmation that the Holy Spirit had succeeded in His work. He succeeded in affirming the Gospel by His revelatory and attesting works (Heb. 2:1-4), He succeeded in bringing to completion the process of piecemeal revelation (1 Cor. 13:8-10), He succeeded in producing a Word that contains everything we need to know for salvation and service (2 Tim. 3:15-17).
And then it dawned on me:
What is a Successionist? It's someone who celebrates the the Lord Jesus' success in giving the apostles all the information He wanted to communicate through them (Jn. 16:12-15), who rejoices in the Trinity's success in revealing and attesting the Gospel (Heb. 2:1-4), who affirms and celebrates the Holy Spirit's success in producing a truly sufficient Word (2 Tim. 3:15-17). He is a successionist.
So what if it's a coined word? So was Charismatic. So was Cessationist. So are many theological labels.
Ah, but I fear that my newborn is a stillborn. Though I don't think I've ever heard the term used, it turns out that word has been around for a long, long time, and already has many connotations which have nothing to do with my intent.
Oh well, the search continues.
But next to "too late," two of the saddest words in English have to be...