What do cessationists and continuationists have in common?

My Thanks to Andy Naselli for this:

Kevin DeYoung, The Holy Spirit (The Gospel Coalition Booklets; Wheaton: Crossway, 2011), pp. 21–22:

Those Controversial Gifts

I would be remiss in talking about spiritual gifts if I didn’t say something about the debate over the “miraculous gifts.” On the one side are cessationists, who claim that some of the gifts, such as tongues and prophecy, ceased after the apostolic age. They contend:

  1. The miraculous gifts were needed only as authenticating signs for the initial establishing of the gospel and the church.
  2. First Corinthians 13:8–10 says that prophecy, tongues, and knowledge will cease “when the perfect comes.” A minority of cessationists contends that the “perfect” came with the completion of the Bible.
  3. Revelatory gifts such as tongues and prophecy undermine the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.
  4. The miraculous gifts we see today are not analogous to the gifts exercised in the New Testament.

On the other side are continuationists, who claim that all the gifts are available today. They argue:

  1. Without a clear word to the contrary, we should assume all the gifts are still in effect and earnestly desire them (1 Cor. 14:1).
  2. The “perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13 refers to the return of Christ, not to the close of the canon (and, it must be pointed out, many cessationists accept this exegesis, too, but draw different conclusions).
  3. Revelatory gifts do not have the same authority as Scripture. They must always be tested.
  4. Whether or not the gifts are identical with the first century, we should welcome the Spirit’s work in our midst.

I believe both sides have come to see that they agree on more than they once thought. They agree that:

  1. Every proclamation must be tested against Scripture.
  2. Nothing can be added to Scripture.
  3. It is unwise to claim personal words from the Lord for someone else.
  4. We should be open to the Spirit working in nondiscursive ways, whether that’s called “prophecy,” “illumination,” or something else.

One of the encouraging signs in the evangelical world is how cessationists and continuationists have been able to partner and worship together in recent years, realizing that their commonalities in the gospel are far greater than the issues that separate them with regard to spiritual gifts.

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s