Romans 12:6-8: Cessationism or Continuationism?
- Via Media
Are the miraculous gifts for today? This is a huge question and no easy one to answer. There are big books being written on both sides of the question. There are thousands of phenomenon that are called in to act as evidence on both sides. And there are bad attitudes as each side accuses the other of blaspheming the Spirit. Today as an introduction to the gifts we must necessarily address this question of whether the miraculous gifts are for today. There are important concerns on both sides of the debate that must be noted. Before we begin I want to give you a quick biography on this issue. I want you to know as we proceed that I have been on both sides of the debate and as presenting a view that has been long in the making and not without a deep look at both sides.
Being converted over twenty years ago, as a young Christian I was in the Baptist church. However, in the 90s the Toronto Blessing was happening in the Charismatic church. We had heard all sorts of terrible things about Rodney Howard Browne and Benny Hinn and were not interested in joining it. However, my roommate and I were street evangelists and found that the only ones who shared our zeal were in the Charismatic church, so after an offer to evangelise in schools from a Charismatic we ended up going along to the first church in South Africa that received the Toronto Blessing, and joined it. While there we got into the thick of things. I got baptised with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues, at least I thought I had, but I hadn’t. I joined in with a prayer group that grew to 200 people praying at times where all sorts of ‘manifestations’ were taking place where people splashed and blew each other over with the Spirit in the name of Revival. I incorporated faith healing into my gospel preaching, and the full gospel getting each person who prayed the sinner’s prayer to also speak in tongues. I remember getting a whole youth group of 120 people to pray in tongues. I got involved with casting demons out of Christians, spiritual warfare, inner healing, and led youth camps where Toronto Blessing type things happened. I got involved with the KJV onlyists, the house church movement, the word of faith teaching, schools for prophecy and attended Benny Hinn and John Arnott meetings. I tell you this because when I share critiques it is not from the side lines but as an insider. I am often commenting on my own errors and those things I have experienced first-hand. As I gaze back over my days in the Charismatic church I see them as full of excitement, activity and blundering error. I remember and still cherish some of the most wonderful Christians who were zealous, servanthearted and generous.
My journey has been one from being a Charismatic, to a Continuationist, this is a conservative Reformed position that still allows for the gifts to continue without endorsing the main line positions or the lunatic fringe of the Charismatic position. And then from that to a Cessationist view. Today I will give you a look into the Cessationist position and its mindset. However, I want to bring to the forefront some of the good concerns of the Charismatic side and end by proposing a view of the gifts which will hopefully satisfy more fully the valid concerns on both sides of this debate.