Are Tongues for Today? Part 2

Originally published as a single article: “Tongues—Are They for Today?,” DBSJ 14 (2009). Part 1 explained the need for revisiting the tongues issue, defined key terms, and summarized the history of tongues-speaking.

An argument for cessationism

How, then, is this new, more careful continuationist to be answered? There are, after all, many descriptive texts in favor of tonguesspeaking in the NT, and even prescriptive texts that detail the proper practice of tongues in the church. Could it be that the continuationist who allows his experience to skew his exegesis has a counterpart in the cessationist who allows non-experience (or perhaps better, his rationalism) to skew his exegesis?1 Those who argue thusly are not without some warrant, and the cessationist does well to hear them. The dismissal of glossolalia because it is not “normal” to our postenlightenment sensibilities proves too much,2 and certainly cannot substitute for careful theological argumentation. This being said, however, I do believe that a careful theological argument for cessationism can be mustered.

The quest for an elusive proof text

Perhaps the easiest way to argue a point of theology or practice is to cite a concrete text or set of texts that unambiguously affirms the point to be made. Some, in fact, will accept nothing less than such a proof text. For cessationists in this category, 1 Corinthians 13:8–13 reigns as the end-all argument for cessationism. I do allow for the possibility that this passage argues for cessationism in the present age; however, I am also keenly aware that the two interpretations that argue thusly are minority positions that must compete with a formidable alternative interpretation that is held by the majority. To be specific, the point of cessation in this text, viz., the arrival of the “perfect” (v. 10)3 may possibly be the completion of the canon4 or the maturation of the church,5 but more probably refers to the state of affairs that accompanies the revelation of Jesus Christ to the believer either at the point of physical death or at the Second Advent—a revelation that immediately renders all lesser forms of revelation unnecessary. This final view is the majority view among modern commentators and the virtually unanimous understanding of continuationists;6 further, it is the preference of not a few cessationists.7 The latter would argue that the revelatory gifts will finally cease at the revelation of Jesus Christ, but are presently in a state of suspension (as is the case in much of biblical history) due to theological factors other than the message of 1 Corinthians 13.

In short, despite the great furor that surrounds this passage, the argument for cessationism does not rise or fall on the interpretation of 1 Corinthians 13 alone. Further, the formidable exegetical case against this “proof text” for cessationism virtually guarantees that this passage alone will not convince skeptics. So while I allow the possibility that this passage might argue for the cessationist position, I am convinced that the more prudent course of action for the cessationist is to pursue a more robustly exegetical-theological argument for cessationism. This concession will no doubt scandalize some, but broad appeal to the analogy of faith instead of a single text does not, in my opinion, weaken the cessationist argument; instead, it deepens and strengthens it.

The argument from the nature of tongues as “signs of an apostle”

One of the foremost gifts given to the early church was the gift of apostleship—a gift that takes pride of place on at least two NT gift lists (Eph 4:11; 1 Cor 12:28). The priority of apostleship is primarily temporal in nature, but there also seems to be a suggestion that this gift carries with it a broader scope of responsibility and authority than any of the other gifts. Specifically to our discussion, apostles are described in 2 Corinthians 12:12 as arbiters of the miraculous gifts (viz., signs, wonders, and miracles) such that these are denominated “signs of a true apostle.” If this designation is to have any meaning at all, it follows that we should not regard miraculous gifts (including tongues) as the property of all believers or of believers in every era. These are not signs of a true believer, but signs of a true apostle—phenomena exercised “by virtue of the presence and activity of the apostles…under an ‘apostolic umbrella,’ so to speak.”8

This being the case, the obvious follow-up question is whether the gift of apostleship continues today, a question that is increasingly answered in the negative today, even by continuationists. An apostle, by definition, is one who has been “given the legal power to represent another” so as to be “as the man himself,”9 an astonishing authority that the early church regarded with extreme sobriety. In keeping with the practice of the period, apostleship could only be awarded directly by the one whom the apostle represented—in this case, Christ himself. Great emphasis is placed on Christ’s appointment of the apostles (Mark 3:14; Luke 6:12; Acts 1:2; 10:41); even Paul, the “untimely born” apostle (1 Cor 15:8), was insistent that his apostleship could not have been had by any indirect agency (Gal 1:1).10 When the disciples sought to replace Judas as apostle, they expressed a compulsion to find someone who was an actual eyewitness of the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:21–22), a qualification that, again, Paul regarded as absolutely essential to apostleship (1 Cor 9:1; 15:7–9).11 In order even to be eligible for apostleship, it would thus seem, one must have had literal contact with Christ during his earthly ministry, both seeing and hearing Christ physically. This understanding, which expressly limits the apostolic office to the first century, is furthered by the fact that the apostolic office, together with the prophetic office, is regarded as foundational of the church (Eph 2:20; Rev 21:14).

In view of these exegetical considerations, the trend among more cautious continuationists today is to concede that the apostolic office no longer exists.12 This is a welcome reflection of fidelity to Scripture that we should celebrate. It raises, however, a theological corollary that cessationists do well to pursue, for as Waldron incisively notes, “The admission that the apostolate has ceased is a fatal crack in the foundation of Continuationism.”13 Note the following:

  • The admission that apostolism has ceased is de facto an admission that spiritual giftedness in the church today differs from spiritual giftedness in the early church. At least one (and potentially more) of the gifts possessed then are not possessed today.

  • The admission that apostolism has ceased also seems to lead necessarily to the admission that the “signs of an apostle” must likewise have ceased—that is, unless one can find some new biblical basis and foundation for these gifts.14

  • The admission that apostolism has ceased, finally, militates strongly against the continuation of all forms of special revelation (including tongues). The significance of Christ’s direct appointment of apostles and his literal, physical interaction with them is related directly to the prerogative to receive and transmit divine revelation. The privilege of bearing authoritative witness to Christ is restricted explicitly to those who had been with Christ from the beginning, were eyewitnesses of Christ’s earthly ministry, and who had been commissioned by him (Luke 1:2; John 15:26–27; Acts 10:39–41; 1 John 1:1–3). Direct, divine revelation in the early church was always channeled through apostles, either directly or by apostolic influence.

In summary, fidelity to the scriptural conception of apostleship, together with the necessary conclusion therefrom that the apostolic office is no longer active, casts a shadow of suspicion over all historical appeals to NT practice for the continuation of tongues.

Editor’s note: Part 3 will offer arguments from the purpose of tongues as attesting new revelation and as kingdom markers.

Notes

1 So, for instance, Craig Keener, Gift & Giver: The Holy Spirit for Today (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), p. 13 et passim.

2 That is, taken to its logical end, such a posture argues against all Christian supernaturalism, and thrusts the cessationist into the dubious company of theological liberalism, past and present.

3 Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture citations in this article are drawn from the New American Standard Bible, updated ed. (1995).

4 So e.g., R. Bruce Compton, “1 Corinthians 13:8–13 and the Cessation of Miraculous Gifts,” DBSJ 9 (2004): 97–144; Merrill Unger, The Baptism and Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Chicago: Moody Press, 1974), pp. 138–45; Reymond, What About Continuing Revelations and Miracles? pp. 30–36; Myron J. Houghton, “A Reexamination of 1 Corinthians 13:8–13,” BSac 153 (July–September 1996): 344–56.

5 So, e.g., F. David Farnell, “When Will the Gift of Prophecy Cease?” BSac 150 (April–June 1993): 171–202; Robert L. Thomas, Understanding Spiritual Gifts, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1999), pp. 77–84; Donald G. McDougall, “Cessationism in 1 Cor 13:8–12,” TMSJ 14 (Fall 2003): 207–13.

6 So D. A. Carson, Showing the Spirit (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987), pp. 66–76; Wayne A. Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today, rev.ed. (Westchester, IL: Crossway, 2000), pp. 227–52 et passim; Keener, Gift & Giver, pp. 105–7; Gordon D. Fee, God’s Empowering Presence (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994), pp. 207–8.

7 See, e.g., Edgar, Satisfied by the Promise of the Spirit, pp. 243–46; Richard B. Gaffin, Perspectives on Pentecost, pp. 109–12; Stanley D. Toussaint, “First Corinthians Thirteen and the Tongues Question,” BSac 120 (October–December 1963): 311–16; R. Fowler White, “Richard Gaffin and Wayne Grudem on 1 Cor 13:10: A Comparison of Cessationist and Noncessationist Argumentation,” JETS 35 (June 1992): 173– 81.

8 Richard B. Gaffin, “A Cessationist View,” in Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? p. 39. Gaffin rejects Warfield’s understanding that miraculous gifts were exercised only by those upon whom the apostles personally laid hands as too “mechanical.” The extent of the exercise of tongues in the NT (and especially as described at Corinth) seems to bear out Gaffin’s broader understanding. See Acts 2:43; 8:18.

9 Herman Ridderbos, Redemptive History and the New Testament Scriptures, 2nd rev. ed. (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1988), p. 14.

10 Replying to the objection that Christ did not appoint Matthias to the office of apostle, two possible answers emerge: (1) some suggest that his appointment was not sanctioned by Christ and thus illegitimate (i.e., Matthias was not really an apostle); but more likely, (2) Christ instructed the eleven to appoint a replacement and then confirmed that appointment directly by lot (Acts 1:26). In this case Christ did not directly appoint Matthias to his apostolate, but was intimately involved in the selection process.

11 One might even argue from 1 Cor 15:8 that Paul considered himself to be not only the least but also the last of the apostles. The fact that he was the last to see Christ, and one who received his apostleship “abnormally” (NIV) strongly suggests that there are no other apostles.

12 See, e.g., Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), pp. 906, 911; Carson, Showing the Spirit, pp. 91, 156; Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, pp. 191–92. Exceptions to this general rule exist within the conservative evangelical world, most notably Sovereign Grace Ministries, over which C. J. Mahaney presides (see http://www.sovereigngraceministries.org/ChurchPlanting/ApostolicCare.aspx), but they are relatively rare.

13 Waldron, To Be Continued? p. 23. This point represents Waldron’s thesis and the starting point from which all his arguments for cessationism flow in a linear fashion.

14 As we shall see, it is, in fact, the tack of many of today’s “open but cautious” continuationists to find a new biblical basis for tongues. More and more regularly, defenses of continuationism appeal not backward to the apostolic period, but forward to the eschaton, which is making rearward inroads into the present. This represents an important shift in the continuationist argument that demands a correlate shift in the cessationist defense. See part three.


Mark Snoeberger has served as Director of Library Services at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary since 1997, and as a part-time instructor here since 1999. Prior to coming on staff at DBTS, he served for three years as an assistant pastor. He received his M.Div. and Th.M. degrees from DBTS in 1999 and 2001, respectively. Dr. Snoeberger earned the Ph.D. in systematic theology in 2008 from Baptist Bible Seminary in Clarks Summit, PA. He provides pulpit supply for area churches on an active basis and teaches in the Inter-City Bible Institute. He and his wife, Heather, have two sons, Jonathan and David.

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Richard Pajak's picture

Bob T. wrote:
Richard, thank you again for your interaction.

You stated you like Kathryn Kuhlman ? I have a book recommendation for you. It is: From The Pinnacle of the Temple, Faith or Presumption, Charles Farah Jr, PHD, Logos International. At the time of the books writing Charles Farah was a professor of historical and theological studies at Oral Roberts University. He was well educated with degrees from Wheaton College and Fuller Seminary then a PHD from Edinburgh University. But he was also was a personal assistant and close friend of Kathryn Kuhlman. He was also a Pastor of a large Charismatic church in Tulsa, OK. He gives a very interesting perspective on the concept of divine healing. He does so from both a biblical and practical experience viewpoint. I have four copies on my shelf now as I have given this book to many Charismatics. If it is not available I would be happy to send you a copy even though you are in England.

Thank you for the offer. I will perhaps purchase one online, I won't burden you with sending me a copy.
Could you stimulate my tastebuds a bit more though by telling me what conclusions he comes to. I think he criticizes the prosperity gospel from what scant information I can find online but that's ok because I am not into that way of looking at things anyway.

Richard Pajak

Bob T.'s picture

Here are some of the linguistic studies of religious tongues speaking. These studies include a few thousand recordings and include analysis done on missions fields.

1. Eugene Nida, secretary of translations for the American Bible society has headed up studies staring in the 1960s. The conclusion was: 'the phonemic strata indicates that the phonemes of glossolia utterances are closely associated with the language background of the speakers native language. There are not enough phonemes to have even the most primitive language known.

2. William J. Samarin PHD, of the University of Toronto headed the most extensive study group. He is generally recognized as the foremost expert on Pentecostal glossolia. Their samples were taken over a five year period and from several countries . Their description of glossolia as meaningless utterance having structure from the speakers native language. The phonemes present no organized or consistent pattern so as to be meaningful communication.

3. Other studies were headed up by the following linguists and their teaching universities: William Welmers, PHD, UCLA; Herbert Stahike, PHD, Georgia State University; James Jaquith, Washington University; Ernest Bryant and Daniel O'Connell, St. Louis University; Donald Larson, PHD, Bethel College.

The conclusions of linguists are basically the same. There was no meaningful communication possible.

Some Christians have maintained the possibility of the gift of tongues on mission fields and/or out of western culture, Such claims have been made from time to time since the 1960s. Linguistic studies of such occurrences are included in the above studies. It has not been verified as anything but nonsense syllables from the native language structure of the speaker.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Snoeberger wrote:
(2) The argument that such signs and miracles were performed in Scripture by non-apostles seems to be answered here to. The point is not that apostles alone could perform sign miracles, but that such sign miracles were accomplished “in their midst,” that is, under the aegis of apostolic ministry.

If you already answered this and I missed it, my apologies... but are you saying here that you believe tongues speaking in the churches only occurred when an apostle was present? (And the tongues in 1Cor in that case would be counterfeit?)
I'm thinking I've missed your point here.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Mark Snoeberger's picture

Aaron,

Gaffin talks of an "apostolic umbrella" under which legitimate miraculous gifts took place. I like his metaphor, and also its vagueness. I'm not sure it's necessary to limit tongues to times and places that apostles were physically present, but I would limit them to the apostolic purview.

Paul seems to suggest that at least some of the practice of tongues in Corinth was legitimate, though his skepticism comes through pretty strongly at points.

MAS

Richard Pajak's picture

"The context of 2 Corinthians 12 is significant. Paul’s apostolic authority is being challenged and he is offering proof of his apostleship—and his major argument is that he signs of an apostle were done in their midst while he was with them. While I grant that he does not specifically say that these signs are exclusive to apostolic ministry, the argument isn’t very helpful unless they are."

I think it would be a reasonable view to hold that there was a greater or more prolific manifestation of multiple gifts, he specifically mentions signs and wonders, manifested through the apostles than through the non apostles. He seems to be saying that the signs in his ministry were equal to those of the original apostles, that the signs in his ministry were in no way inferior to those demonstrated by the original 12.

"The argument that such signs and miracles were performed in Scripture by non-apostles seems to be answered here to. The point is not that apostles alone could perform sign miracles, but that such sign miracles were accomplished “in their midst,” that is, under the aegis of apostolic ministry.[/quote]"

"In their midst" or "performed among you" does not seem to me to be saying that signs had to be done by an apostle or in the presence of an apostle. He simply states his signs were done among them so they knew or should know his genuineness.

Richard Pajak

Joel Shaffer's picture

What about Phillip the evangelist?

Not only was he not identified as an apostle (he was one of the seven appointed deacons-Acts 6:5), but he also performed miracles outside the presence of the apostles when preaching to the Samaritans (Acts 8:5-8). Furthermore, he had four daughters that prophesied (Acts 21). It seems quite clear that Phillip and his daughters do not fit in with Mark's theory that one had to be in the apostle's presence to practice the sign gifts in the early church (unless I am not understanding Mark correctly).

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Mark Snoeberger wrote:
Aaron,
Gaffin talks of an "apostolic umbrella" under which legitimate miraculous gifts took place. I like his metaphor, and also its vagueness. I'm not sure it's necessary to limit tongues to times and places that apostles were physically present, but I would limit them to the apostolic purview.
Paul seems to suggest that at least some of the practice of tongues in Corinth was legitimate, though his skepticism comes through pretty strongly at points.

Thanks. I think I see what you're saying there. The churches where still under apostolic supervision for as long as apostles were around to do that. It's an interesting idea (the "signs of an apostle" part) I hadn't heard before.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Bob T.'s picture

The supernatural giving of languages was connected to the Jews and was a sign for them. This is seen at Is. 28:11-12. This somewhat obscure reference is in a context of the Jewish people rejecting God's revelatory teaching and then the ultimate rejection of their Messiah (Is: 28:16-22). The principle of God using supernatural languages as a sign for the unbelieving Jew is stated by Paul at 1Cor. 14: 20-22. He cites the Isaiah passage. This also appears to be involved with the supernatural languages given at Acts 2, 10, and 19. In each case unbelievers have a supernatural authenticating of the Gospel of the Jewish Messiah.

At Romans 3: 1-2 Paul gives a very important privilege of the Jewish people. It is "to them were committed the oracles of God." (NKJV). "were committed" is the Aorist. Act. Ind. of pisteuw. This indicates an entrusting or reliance upon for something. "Oracle" is the word "logigos" which was used of the pagan religious oracles who would speak and alleged their spoken words were in fact the very words of their god (falsely of course). The Jews were given the privilege of being entrusted with the very spoken words (revelation) of God. Most commentators, in keeping with the European deemphasis of the Jewish nature of Christianity, make casual passing comments ascribing this privilege to the OT. However, if one looks at the progress of Gospel proclamation and its foundation, it is seen as progressing with Jewish credentials of authenticating verified supernaturally by the sign gift of tongues.

At about 1977 to 1979 Robert D. Culver wrote an article (have it in files somewhere) that was in Bib. Sac. regarding the qualifications of an Apostle of Christ (in contrast to just a general use of the word of apostles (sent ones) of a church. He gave twelve qualifications of the twelve Apostles of Christ that were the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:19-22). Among the qualifications was the fact that they must be Jewish. The oracles of God continued to be committed to the Jews through the Apostles. All the NT scriptures except, Luke and Acts, are written by jews. Luke may have been selected as the sole gentile author as he gives the transition narrative of the Gospel being taken from the exclusive custody of the Jews and given also to the Gentiles. However, his Gospel and Acts are accepted as scripture because they were authenticated by Paul and later other Apostles.
The inscripturation and authentication of the NT was a product of the Jewish Apostles.

When we come to the gift of tongues being exercised in the assembly at Corinth, we have Paul relating it to the statement by Isaiah and making it a Jewish related phenomena. It is sated clearly to be a sign for the unbeliever (1 Cor. 14:20-22). Gentiles spoke in tongues at Act 10. But it was a sign also for the Jews as Peter relates at Acts 11:15-17. Therefore any revelation given through the gift of tongues at the Corinthian assembly, would be valid only so long as it had some Apostolic authentication. They need not be present, but the revelation would not have continuing authority without Apostolic approval. This could be one reason why the broader passage (chapters 12 to 14) first diminishes the importance of one gift above another in chapter 12, then makes all gifts subservient to the Christian character of love in chapter 13. He then also speaks to the enduring nature of love in the church and the temporal nature of prophecy and tongues, and the knowledge that comes from those gifts. He makes a clear declaration that prophecy will be abolished, tongues will cease, and knowledge (presumably from those gifts) will also be abolished. This passing away is in contrast to the love the assembly is to seek and the characteristics of faith hope and love that will remain in Christian assemblies (13:13). This passing away is also connected with a coming concept of something that is mature or more complete. The adjective telios can mean "perfect" or be that which is seen as more relative, or complete in contrast, or mature. The illustration contrasting infancy and maturity in vv. 11-12 would seem to make this as not an event or person involving perfection but a state of maturity or completeness in contrast to the less partial which is less mature. All this gains better clarity when one keeps the larger context of chapters 12 to 14 in view, and then brings in the theological principle involved with the Jewish nature of revelation, and the role of the Apostles. They were Christ's Jewish emissaries on earth who were also the foundation of the new Jewish and Gentile assembly (church) established by the Messiah Himself. There is therefore no place for tongues or prophecy without the "umbrella" of the Apostles. They are the authenticators of all truth and revelation to the church. When the Apostles pass from the scene, so do signs and wonders. Signs and wonders are connected with the Apostles (2Cor.12:12) and occur confirming them and their message (Heb. 2:1-4).

When Mark Snoeberger mentions that the majority of commentators do not see the 1 Corinthian passage as supporting cessationism, he may be right. However, many commentators are Reformed and have an orientation away from the Jewishness of Christian foundations. This may make them ignore the Jewish orientation of the tongues phenomena in scripture. Some earlier Reformed theologians were cessationists. However, there may be a trend by them away from this. Also, as I stated earlier, there is pressure in evangelical circles toward greater toleration of doctrine. This has had a definite effect on the academia of many evangelical seminaries. It appears to me that the majority do not offer very compelling reasons to see the "perfect" or "completeness" occurring in a future event or person still in the sweet by and by to the church. The broader context and immediate context appears to offer compelling evidence that we should not look any further than the time when the assemblies of Christ are still in existence but Apostolic sign gifts have ceased. It also fits well with the necessity of the presence of Apostles on earth. Some see the continuation of prophecy and Apostles by simply generalizing the terms and diminishing the unique Apostolic requirements and their connection to sign gifts and prophecy.

The Pentecostal and Charismatic movements that exists involve claims of present day tongues, prophecy, signs, and wonders and even Apostleship. They do so without having any Apostolic authentication of those called personally by Christ and with Him from the beginning (Acts 1:21-26). They rest on the same basis as most cults with post Apostolic revelation and even their own newer scriptures.. They also have the same basis as the KJVO or Divine Greek text advocates. They all seek and claim post Apostolic authority. This authority involves continuationism. Continuationism is not just that gifts are operative today,. It is that all gifts are operative along with the signs and wonders they are involved in. It is that they allow for these to occur post Apostolic. It also logically would allow for new revelation and scripture being given post Apostolic, and in the period of the church and prior to the coming "Day of the Lord."

One cannot be a historic Fundamentalist and a continuationist.

Richard Pajak's picture

But one can be born again and a continuationist and that is more important than clinging to a man made title of "historic fundamentalist" I can't imagine for a second that God will be asking for our historic fundamentalist cvs when we stand before Him.

Richard Pajak

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

No, it will be the substance we answer for at the judgment, not the shorthand. The label is just shorthand since it's awkward to repeat the movements beginning and stands etc. every time we want to refer to it.
Bob's point is that it's significant that the set of beliefs fundamentalists were united around do not include continuationism. I'm not sure he's entirely right about that, but the role of early Pentecostals in the movement was certainly not a large one and other kinds of continuationism have had almost no representation in fundamentalism since then. (Seems to me that started changing some in maybe the 1980s)

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Steve Davis's picture

Bob T. wrote:
One cannot be a historic Fundamentalist and a continuationist.

That's quite a broad brushstroke. If that's true (and that's a big if) maybe it's one reason fewer people are concerned about being a historic Fundamentalist and more concerned about letting Scripture speak rather than a movement or self-appointed spokesmen speak for them.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Quote:
...about letting Scripture speak rather than a movement or self-appointed spokesmen speak for them.

Fortunately, those are not our choices... not sure they ever have been.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Richard Pajak's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
No, it will be the substance we answer for at the judgment, not the shorthand. The label is just shorthand since it's awkward to repeat the movements beginning and stands etc. every time we want to refer to it.
Bob's point is that it's significant that the set of beliefs fundamentalists were united around do not include continuationism. I'm not sure he's entirely right about that, but the role of early Pentecostals in the movement was certainly not a large one and other kinds of continuationism have had almost no representation in fundamentalism since then. (Seems to me that started changing some in maybe the 1980s)

These historic fundamentalists remember had centuries of teaching that the gifts had ceased, had they started to proclaim differently they would probably have been persecuted.
We absorb the teachings and traditions passed on to us often without questioning whether these teachings are as infallible as they are made out to be. It is more than reasonable to assume that they absorbed cessationist ideas and taught them as the truth as they perceived it.

Richard Pajak

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Richard Pajak wrote:
These historic fundamentalists remember had centuries of teaching that the gifts had ceased, had they started to proclaim differently they would probably have been persecuted.
We absorb the teachings and traditions passed on to us often without questioning whether these teachings are as infallible as they are made out to be. It is more than reasonable to assume that they absorbed cessationist ideas and taught them as the truth as they perceived it.
No, in fact it is not reasonable to assume that such men who organized and forwarded the expression of Christianity known as Fundamentalism did anything but "absorb the teachings and traditions passed on...without questioning whether these teachings are as infallible as they are made out to be" and that they simply "absorbed cessationist ideas".

I am not sure if the men to whom you are prescribing such a casual and careless approach in their study, exposition, exegesis and theological development are men about whom you have taken the time to investigate but may I suggest that before you impose such a minimizing dismissal of the integrity of their studies and the process, you take the time to discover who they are and their background, men such as (just to name a handful of many more like these men):

Quote:
Rev. W. H. Griffith Thomas, D.D.
Prof. James Orr, D.D.
F. Bettex, D.D.
Arno C. Gaebelein
Rev. James M. Gray, D.D.
Prof. Benjamin B. Warfield, D.D., LL. D.
Prof. Charles B. Williams, B.B., Ph.D.
Prof. Charles R. Erdman, D.D.

and then, after this see if you might want to reconsider whether they can fairly be reduced to teachers who "absorb the teachings and traditions passed on...without questioning whether these teachings are as infallible as they are made out to be" and that they simply have "absorbed cessationist ideas", if so it would be surprising to hear your justification for such a characterization after such research into their qualifications and work. I realize you have your body of belief but your strokes of dismissal are quite heavy and at quite a distance. It behooves us all to be a bit more reticent to the impulse to sweep such large groups of well studied men into disqualifying categories so that we do not have to attend to their instruction lest we be forced to discover something misaligned in our own thinking.

Bob T.'s picture

The "Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, Burgess, Mcgee, and Alexander, editors, Zonderan, 1988. Has a good section under the topic of "Fundamentalism." They State the following at page 325;

"Although Fundamentalists and Dispensationalists strongly supported the miracles of the Bible as one of the bedrock fundamentals of the faith, they denied the presence of miracles in modern times."

This dictionary is by leaders and academics of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. They do not view the Fundamentalist movement as being part of, or having anything to do with, their movements. It must be remembered that these movements began in 1906 on Azusa Street. It involved mostly uneducated Pastors and they started new churches. They were not very large or visible at the time of the Fundamentalist and Liberalism controversies, and were not involved in that at all. They were not in the established denominations. The original Pentecostal movement brought some out of churches and they started their own new churches. It was a separation movement that brought some out of the Fundamentalist movement churches. It was not until the Charismatic movement of the 1960s that they broke out into larger influence in denominational churches and broader evangelicalism.

My purpose in pointing out that Pentecostals and Charismatics were, and are, not part of Fundamentalism is historical. But it should have meaning for present identification. Fundamentalist oriented churches and institutions have actually been very anti continuationist. Bob Jones, Sr. called tongues "the glue that would hold together the church of anti Christ." Most all Fundamentalist churches forbid such practice. The moderate IFCA churches have passed resolutions against the movements. Fundamentalist schools all forbid such practices. All continuationism has been held by those who would be classified as evangelical and not Fundamentalist. However, some conservative evangelicals have taken a very strong stand against continuationism and the Charismatics and Pentecostals. John MacArthur has done so. Not all CEs have done so. Piper allows for continuationism and the P and C movements. Then there is the militant "Calvinist Charismatic" C.J. Mahany.

My point would be that if one advocates continuationism they are not within the stream of Fundamentalism. They may qualify as a CE though. I have seen nothing but deceivers and the deceived involved in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. I am not alone in that strong opinion. Several evangelicals in this area would agree. Then there are those evangelicals outside the movements who are continuationist. These exist as enablers who are merely attempting to be more tolerant and less dogmatic. They appear to not like the dogmatism of the cessationists. Some others simply feel a desire for something more emotional or with inner feeling. Daniel Wallace appears as this type though he has not spoken in tongues. Then there are those who are just wanting to be "nice guys" such as Robert Saucy of Talbot. He is "open but cautious."

I am here in the large metroplex of L.A., Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties. It all began here and much has come and gone here. I and many others have not seen anything that evidences legitimacy for the P &C movements. There is no need to hypothesize continuationism concepts. Their simply are no legitimate continuations of tongues, signs and wonders occurring.

Bob T.'s picture

Richard Pajak wrote:
Bob T. wrote:
Richard, thank you again for your interaction.

You stated you like Kathryn Kuhlman ? I have a book recommendation for you. It is: From The Pinnacle of the Temple, Faith or Presumption, Charles Farah Jr, PHD, Logos International. At the time of the books writing Charles Farah was a professor of historical and theological studies at Oral Roberts University. He was well educated with degrees from Wheaton College and Fuller Seminary then a PHD from Edinburgh University. But he was also was a personal assistant and close friend of Kathryn Kuhlman. He was also a Pastor of a large Charismatic church in Tulsa, OK. He gives a very interesting perspective on the concept of divine healing. He does so from both a biblical and practical experience viewpoint. I have four copies on my shelf now as I have given this book to many Charismatics. If it is not available I would be happy to send you a copy even though you are in England.

Thank you for the offer. I will perhaps purchase one online, I won't burden you with sending me a copy.
Could you stimulate my tastebuds a bit more though by telling me what conclusions he comes to. I think he criticizes the prosperity gospel from what scant information I can find online but that's ok because I am not into that way of looking at things anyway.

Richard, the theme of the book is that the faith healing concepts of the Charismatic movement are based on presumption not faith. It is the same as Satan tempting Jesus to test God at the Pinnacle of the temple when Satan challenged Jesus to cast Himself off the Pinnacle and allow the Angels to hold him up. He states it is a challenge to the Sovereignty of God. He makes a very compelling biblical case. He gives his own encounters with those who claimed healing or were supposedly healed and then were not. Such has produced tragic results and ruined spiritual lives. He speaks from scripture and as an insider of the movement. Worth reading the whole thing.

Dan Miller's picture

Mark Snoeberger wrote:
Aaron,

Gaffin talks of an "apostolic umbrella" under which legitimate miraculous gifts took place. I like his metaphor, and also its vagueness. I'm not sure it's necessary to limit tongues to times and places that apostles were physically present, but I would limit them to the apostolic purview.

Paul seems to suggest that at least some of the practice of tongues in Corinth was legitimate, though his skepticism comes through pretty strongly at points.


Mark, nice series so far. Thanks for letting SI post it.

I agree with others that the argument that sign gifts pertained to apostles needs some shoring up or clarification. Concerning Paul's argument in 2 Cor 12:1-12, it could be that Paul's argument was one of quantity, not quality. Perhaps most believers were given a sign or two (including tongues), but only apostles were given sign in such great amount and variety. So Paul's argument for his apostleship didn't rest solely on his speaking in tongues (lots did that), but on the amount that he spoke (more than others) and on the various other powerful signs he was given.

You suggest that sign gifts belonged to apostles and those in their umbra. But that brings up two problems:
1) Various teachers in early church history claimed apostolic tradition. We can, even now, claim to be teaching in the tradition of the apostles. This we do. Couldn't a similar claim be used my modern continuationists to claim to be in Paul's umbra?
2) The umbrella idea hurts your argument based on 2 Cor 12. The umbrella system states that many people besides the Apostle were given tongues. That would make Paul's argument, read as you depicted, was insufficient for his purpose. Paul would only be able to use it to argue that he was either an apostle OR under the umbrella of one.

One other point that might be of interest. I myself believe that the "perfect" is the end-the return of Christ. I think that is pretty clear from the Text. But Eusebius remarks that it is the Canon.

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