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Section 8B ... Controversial Issues/
Cessationism

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Cessationism... Introduction

Is God still speaking to His church through direct revelation? Do prophets still have the authority to speak on Godís behalf, conveying information or instruction needed at that moment? Do miracles still occur in the church?

Carol Brooks

ALSO SEE How Do You Determine Your Spiritual Gift?
An inventory of the ministry gifts that some have found helpful.


Introduction -  Two Points of View (Below)

Cessationism (Part 1)

Continuationism (Part 2)

 

Although the word "miracle" is often applied to all manner of providential and often timely benefits, in this article it refers to an event which cannot be explained by anything other than God who in causing something to happen has supernaturally overridden all natural and scientific laws.


Introduction - Two Points of View
Cessationism:  In Christian theology Cessationism (coined from "cessation" or "cease") refers to the belief that the extraordinary gifts such as tongues, miracles, word of knowledge, healing and prophecy were given to confirm the message of the Gospel before the New Testament was completed. However, once it was written and the church established these gifts had served their purpose and were withdrawn.

Note: Although the general rule is that we now have the Bible and therefore do not need spiritual gifts. it is true that some Cessationists consider that miracles do sometimes occur to aid the spreading of the Gospel in un-reached areas,

Continuationism: Continuationism is the opposite of Cessationism. Continuationists believe that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, specifically those often referred to as "sign gifts" (ex. tongues and prophecy), are still in use and still needed in the church. 

In fact, the ever-growing Charismatic movement (a twentieth-century phenomenon) emphasizes the baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, prophecy, the gift of healing and 'personal experience', all of which are contributing factors to the movement's popularity. Some groups even go as far as to claim that that if you do not speak in tongues then you are not saved.

See Tongues
Pentecostals place great emphasis on spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12: 8-10) especially what they call the "Baptism in the Holy Spirit" or 'Second Blessing' - a special post conversion religious experience attested to by a visible or audible sign. The person who supposedly receives the Holy Spirit, will start speaking in incoherent, unintelligible, repetitive words or phrases. Jerking, twitching, falling on the floor and screaming is also quite common. These signs have been seen throughout history in both pagan and heretical Christian movements without, apparently, ANY difference. The jerking, the screaming, and the collapse, are exactly the same in voodoo rituals and people who have a 'kundalini awakening' (as taught in Hinduism). Can any Christian believe for one moment that God has bestowed the gift of the Holy Spirit on Christians, non-Christians, cults, and pagans without any discrimination whatsoever.

The Debate:
Virtually all Christians take for granted that all the gifts existed in the first-century Church and the gifts such as teaching or helps have continued into the present day. The disagreement swirls around the more spectacular gifts such as prophecy and healing - not whether God is capable of working such miracles but whether He does so in the 'church age'. There are many sincere Christians on both sides of the fence but few seems to come to the table untainted by preconceived ideas and/or denominational bias..

And, as is common to many doctrinal debates, both sides use Scripture (occasionally the same verses) to support their positions.

What is often overlooked is that the Bible is an integrated whole, and from cover to cover represents the 'whole counsel of God'.  Because it would be impossible for it to cram all it's teachings on a particular subject into one verse or paragraph, all passages that speak of or have any bearing on, the subject in question have to be taken into consideration. Unfortunately this is rarely done. Virtually everyone who has already come to a conclusion about a particular subject tends to focus solely on verses that seem to support what they believe - to the exclusion of those that do otherwise.  The Trinity being an outstanding example.

There is a middle ground between expecting to see or experience the manifestation of the gifts on a regular basis and shunning them completely. But sadly, neither side seems to come to the table untainted by preconceived ideas and denominational bias..

I have heard it said that this is not a issue that relates to salvation in any way and therefore should not be allowed to cause division.

However I beg to disagree.

Without a Biblical understanding of the gifts of the Spirit (especially tongues) and why they are given, many people have been fooled into believing that the supernatural phenomena they have witnessed / experienced is from God, when in fact they are nothing but occult manifestations.


Continue On To Part I - Cessationism.
In Christian theology Cessationism (coined from "cessation" or "cease") refers to the belief that the extraordinary gifts such as tongues, miracles, word of knowledge, healing and prophecy were given to confirm the message of the Gospel before the New Testament was completed. However, once it was written and the church established these gifts had served their purpose and were withdrawn. HERE