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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There are 48 Comments

Greg Long's picture

Thank you, Dr. Snoeberger. Although I do believe 1 Cor. 13:8-13 can be used as a proof text for cessationism (and yes, I'm aware I'm in the minority in that regard), I, too, always begin with the cessation of the office of apostle when arguing for the cessation of some gifts.

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Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Ted Bigelow's picture

Thanks Mark, for an engaging and beautifully written article. You obviously have studied the matter a great deal and provide excellent guidance. As a fellow cessationist, and one who is deeply disturbed by the continuationist position, I share your passion for the topic.

I’d like to offer several helps, I hope, to your goal of discrediting continuationalism:

1) Account for the full NT data.

In your argument that apostles must have been eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ you have not included the full scope of data that contradicts this limitation. There is also a secondary sense for the term “apostle” in the NT.

Paul was the last see the resurrected Christ (1 Cor. 15:8), but he called both Timothy and Silvanas “apostles” (1 Thess. 2:6). Your article was limited in space. Perhaps you wanted to include this matter, but were constrained.

To this secondary list we must add Barnabas (1 Cor. 9:1, 5-6), James, the brother of our Lord, (Gal. 1:19 – but c.f. 1 Cor. 15:7), and perhaps Andronicus and Junias (Roman 16:7). In fact, in 2 Cor. 11:13 Paul decries apostolic imposters, suggesting there many apostles of this secondary sense. If there were only a small number of apostles, Paul wouldn’t have needed to argue against the false ones in the manner he does in 2 Corinthians 11, by appealing to their evil deeds rather than experience of the risen Christ (11:15).

As you know, continuationists will allow for this secondary sense of apostleship to support their position, and until we can answer it convincingly, we needlessly cede territory to them. However, there is no need to do so.

2) Go to the root of the matter and expose its error.

Wayne Grudem has produced the theological underpinning that has influenced a generation of men to justify continuationalism. He did this initially in his PhD thesis, and then in his book, The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today. His theory was that there is a continuing gift of prophecy in the body of Christ. Many have used his work as a foundation to build their continuationalism upon. Such men are Piper, D.A. Carson, C. J. Mahaney, Sam Storms, and those who follow them on these matters.

In order to justify an on-going gift of prophecy, and its corollary gift of apostleship, Grudem claims that Eph. 2:20 and Eph. 3:5, which both speak of “apostles and prophets,” actually teach one gift, not two. He claims these texts refer to a single gift in some men who should be called “apostles-prophets.” He claims these men were infallible in their prophecies. He then claims other apostles and prophets were not infallible in the First Century, nor are they today (such as Agabus in Acts 21). This is the fallacy we need to slam shut in order to preserve God’s people from the spiritual danger of listening to so-called apostles and prophets today.

When Grudem asserts that Eph. 2:20 and 3:5 speak of one gift (“apostle-prophet”) he breaks the Granville Sharp rule which all Greek students learn in the first year of exegesis. His theory falls apart because he chooses to ignore that both words – “apostles” and “prophets” in Eph. 2:20 and 3:5 are plurals and therefore ineligible to be linked to mean a single “apostle-prophet,” as the Granville Sharp rule allows. Depending upon the article in the Greek, the Granville Sharp rule allows only for singular nouns to be linked together, not plurals. Yet Grudem has linked plurals and broken a foundational Greek rule. Expose the fragility of his foundation and the his superstructure falls down. There was no gift called “apostle-prophet,” and hence there were no fallible gift of apostleship or prophecy. From a Koine perspective, it’s hardly rocket science.

3) Reconsider the argument for “maturity” in 1 Cor. 13:10. Yes, it is debated, but that only means we should look at it more closely, not less.

The word translated “perfect” is telios. In the NT this word almost always means “mature,” not “perfect.” It does in 13:10 as well, for as verse 13:11 explains, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” That’s the process of growing up from immaturity to maturity. But its isn't “perfection.” Perfection comes in v. 12. Examine every author who reads “telios” as “perfect” in 13:11 and you will see they are incapable of giving a meaningful sense to v. 11.

Then compare the context of 1 Cor. 12-14 to Eph. 4. Both teach on spiritual gifts, and both share important words, among which are as apostle and prophet. They also teach on the building up of the church.

Notice the use of “telios” in Eph. 4:13: “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man (teleion), to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” This passage refers to maturity in the here and now, not perfection in eternity. In essence, the context of Eph 4:11-13 mirrors 1 Cor. 13:8-11.

Mark, an approach that refocuses us on the text will necessarily steer us away from an “analogy of the faith” approach. When we go that way, we can give up the ship too quickly on the text. That approach often offers us a slippery rescue that can run too quickly to other verses in order to handling theological controversy. Instead, let’s rest on the texts that are given. For in this matter, we are in the right, by God’s grace.

Richard Pajak's picture

I am afraid I remain unconvinced of your arguments Mark. You will have to produce something better than that to carry any weight. I have Scripture to back up my views that the gifts should be operational today.
As I perceive it you have to try to argue away the plain teaching of Scripture in order for your argument to look reasonable.

Richard Pajak

Greg Long's picture

Richard, do you believe the gift of apostle of Jesus Christ exists today?

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Richard Pajak's picture

First of all I claim no great scholarship, theological training or ability to articulate my views as well as I would like. I'm just an ordinary joe and can't compare with some of the intellect on this site. Having made this disclaimer in case I write anything foolish I will endeavour to answer your question Greg. I tend to view the primary application of the term apostle to the 12 whom Jesus chose to be His intimate companions but the fact that Scripture names others as apostles such as Paul and Barnabas indicates that the word was considered appropriate for others besides the 12.
In its meaning as messenger or someone sent out then the term seems to have an even wider application. I am wary of anyone who themselves proclaim to be an apostle( but I claim no discernment to back up this wariness) simply because it looks as if they are boastful of having a superior position but for others to use the term of someone else I am okay with that for example Smith Wigglesworth was called the "apostle of faith" because of his distinctive ministry.
So it seems to me that it has a primary meaning as well as secondary meanings nevertheless whichever view I had I cannot see that either would impinge on whether tongues or the other gifts were for today or not

Richard Pajak

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I would agree that there is a secondary meaning (see Philippians 2:25, for example, where Ephroditus is "your apostolos"). But I think there are only two senses: those sent/commissioned by Christ and those sent/commissioned by a local church. The former would consist only of the 12 and Paul.
The two senses could apply to individuals at the same time, though. In the case of Paul and Barnabas being sent out (Acts 13), Paul is both apostle of Jesus Christ and apostle of the church at Antioch. Barnabas is "one sent" only from the church (though the Holy Spirit is personally involved, Jesus is not). So when the term is applied to both of them, it is in the latter sense.

As for Dr. Snoeberger's case here, perhaps, Richard, it would be helpful to hear you interact with his evidence and reasoning. Where in particular to you think his case is weak or inaccurate?

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

Lots of fuss over nothing. I mean literally nothing.

Lets all face the reality. It's all about the tongues. The whole movement with Prophets, healings, miracles, etc. are all the outgrowth of the initial three speaking in tongues revivals. First Azusa street, then Denis Bennett and the Charismatics and then Wimber and Fullish Seminary with the third wavers.

So OK I am ready, take me to the leaders and practitioners. Where are these tongues speakers, healers, prophets, and modern day miracle workers? What have they to say? What have they contributed to the glory of the gospel and Christ?

Countless linguistic studies exist with thousands of recordings of so called tongues. The unanimous verdict is no real language is spoken, just made up gibberish of syllables coming from the native language of the speakers. Many studies of the healers such as AA Allen, Oral Roberts, Benny Hinn, and others, still fail to produce any miracle healing evidence. Many of the former and present national leaders are obvious money grabbers and fraudulent. Revivals in Indonesia, Toronto, and Pensacola brings forth fraud and nonsense and nothing more. Missionary vision and miracle reports turn out to be unsubstantiated big foot sightings of phenomena that is never verified with actual objective evidence. All sorts of Heresy and a false prosperity gospel are born out of the movement, but still we seek to find this as part of a continuation of phenomena allowed by scripture. Reports from Africa and South America indicate that no legitimate biblical gospel is being proclaimed. In its place the continuationists proclaim a non saving prosperity gospel This is Continuationism? Have we lost our common sense?

This whole thing has been going on for decades with nothing but smoke and mirrors. Some whom we call theologians and scholars show their lack of common sense by ignoring the obvious in scripture to give some credence to the smoke and mirrors continuation movement. We out Greek the Greeks by overstating the specific in a text while ignoring the broader and immediate contexts of passages.. This happens with 1Cor. 13:8. A direct statement that tongues will cease is shunted aside by ignoring the whole broad argument and putting it off to the sweet by and by. There are three incidents in Acts of miracle language gifts that are obvious real human languages. There is one extended teaching passage in First Corinthians that is written not to promote but to deemphasize and regulate tongues. With this scriptural evidence we endeavor to give credence to movements that promote these phenomena as the very foundation for all that they claim to be emphasizing. Why?

OK , I surrender too. Take me to the tongues speaker, the miracle worker, and also to the prophet. Just where are they? Before we give in any further please find them. As a 70 year old Christian saved in the Navy, witnessed much of this phenomena, having several years of language study, and as a lawyer, I have asked for and sought out the continuation evidence many times. The answers have not shown any continuation of biblical phenomena such as miracle language gifts, healing miracles, prophetic information or visions.

I have not bothered to offer any arguments from scripture or to reference the linguistic studies. I may do that in another post. However, why should I need any arguments? In court this is a non suit. No legitimate evidence exists for any ongoing tongues or other miracles. No arguments to the contrary are needed yet. Show me some real continuation phenomena.

Richard Pajak's picture

[quote=Bob T. ]Lots of fuss over nothing. I mean literally nothing.

"Lets all face the reality. It's all about the tongues. The whole movement with Prophets, healings, miracles, etc. are all the outgrowth of the initial three speaking in tongues revivals. First Azusa street, then Denis Bennett and the Charismatics and then Wimber and Fullish Seminary with the third wavers."

The topic under discussion is about tongues so the fact that "it's all about tongues" is self evident. The Holy Spirit's operating today however is not "all about tongues". Opponents would like to characature it as such but what it is all about is simply the Holy Spirit moving among His people as described in Scripture....or so it is as a continuationist looks at it. These kinds of things were occuring before Azusa St. If one majors on tongues then one is unbalanced in ones perception. All the gifts of the Spirit are to be received without necessarily imposing (in my view) a strict hierarchical order unless Scripture dictates such.

"So OK I am ready, take me to the leaders and practitioners. Where are these tongues speakers, healers, prophets, and modern day miracle workers? What have they to say? What have they contributed to the glory of the gospel and Christ?"

I can imagine if you were around in Jesus day that you may have been equally as sceptical of what He did and found plausible reasons for denying that His works were genuine and if you were were in Jerusalem at the time of the outpouring of the Spirit you may well have joined in the sceptical comments as you heard the disciples speaking in foreign tongues.
From your present vantage point of being a believer in Christ you might deny that if you had been there that you would have been sceptical but you would have no basis for believing otherwise.
I can imagine that even if you had someone before you who had been healed and the healing had been medically verified yet that you would find some reason to denounce it or like the world to rationalise it. Whenever anyone is healed it brings glory to the Lord. There are 1000s of everyday believers who are continuationists and who may exercise the gifts they have who by their lives contribute to the glory of God. Bringing glory to God is not the sole prerogative of cessationists.

"Countless linguistic studies exist with thousands of recordings of so called tongues. The unanimous verdict is no real language is spoken, just made up gibberish of syllables coming from the native language of the speakers. Many studies of the healers such as AA Allen, Oral Roberts, Benny Hinn, and others, still fail to produce any miracle healing evidence. Many of the former and present national leaders are obvious money grabbers and fraudulent. Revivals in Indonesia, Toronto, and Pensacola brings forth fraud and nonsense and nothing more. Missionary vision and miracle reports turn out to be unsubstantiated big foot sightings of phenomena that is never verified with actual objective evidence. All sorts of Heresy and a false prosperity gospel are born out of the movement, but still we seek to find this as part of a continuation of phenomena allowed by scripture. Reports from Africa and South America indicate that no legitimate biblical gospel is being proclaimed. In its place the continuationists proclaim a non saving prosperity gospel This is Continuationism? Have we lost our common sense?"

It is a very sweeping statement to imply that all continuationists proclaim a non saving prosperity gospel...you might as well say that JWs are an offshoot of cessationist gospel preaching.

"This whole thing has been going on for decades with nothing but smoke and mirrors. Some whom we call theologians and scholars show their lack of common sense by ignoring the obvious in scripture to give some credence to the smoke and mirrors continuation movement. We out Greek the Greeks by overstating the specific in a text while ignoring the broader and immediate contexts of passages.. This happens with 1Cor. 13:8. A direct statement that tongues will cease is shunted aside by ignoring the whole broad argument and putting it off to the sweet by and by. There are three incidents in Acts of miracle language gifts that are obvious real human languages. There is one extended teaching passage in First Corinthians that is written not to promote but to deemphasize and regulate tongues. With this scriptural evidence we endeavor to give credence to movements that promote these phenomena as the very foundation for all that they claim to be emphasizing. Why?"

Characterizing the opposition as lacking common sense is using a belittling argument as cover for the blatantly false assertion that there is anything "totally obvious" in Scripture.
Politicians do the same, assassinating the integrity, character and motives of their opponents.

Your brother in the Lord.

Richard Pajak

Richard Pajak's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I would agree that there is a secondary meaning (see Philippians 2:25, for example, where Ephroditus is "your apostolos"). But I think there are only two senses: those sent/commissioned by Christ and those sent/commissioned by a local church. The former would consist only of the 12 and Paul.
The two senses could apply to individuals at the same time, though. In the case of Paul and Barnabas being sent out (Acts 13), Paul is both apostle of Jesus Christ and apostle of the church at Antioch. Barnabas is "one sent" only from the church (though the Holy Spirit is personally involved, Jesus is not). So when the term is applied to both of them, it is in the latter sense.

As for Dr. Snoeberger's case here, perhaps, Richard, it would be helpful to hear you interact with his evidence and reasoning. Where in particular to you think his case is weak or inaccurate?

To state the gifts are CURRENTLY in a state of suspension has no Scriptural basis as even Snoeberger says the "perfect" MORE PROBABLY refers to the state of affairs that accompanies the revelation of Jesus to the believer at physical death or the second advent. If it is the second advent then surely it is reasonable to assume the gifts are still available.

I would argue that the case for cessationism can take no comfort from 1 Corinthians 13 without bending it to match preconceived views.

His use of 2 Corinthians 12:12 seems to imply that the gifts are the sole property of the apostles. I take the view that these may indeed be the corroborating signs of an apostle but I cannot see where it even hints that non apostles are excluded from the exercise of these gifts.
Tongues are not the property of all believers(in my view)The Spirit distributes His gifts as He chooses.
He makes a big jump from saying these are "signs of a true apostle" to arrive at the conclusion that "it follows" that one should not regard miraculous gifts as the property of believers in every age because we no longer have apostles with us.
He asserts "the admission that apostolism has ceased, militates strongly against the continuation of all forms of revelation" But it seems to me this assertion is made on the erroneous conclusion(in my view) that he reached earlier in his prodigious mental leap when he said the gifts are purely apostolic gifts.
To me that is an awfully big leap
I disagree that divine revelation in the early church was always channeled through apostles.
The Lord spoke through Ananias in Acts 9:10 and through Agabus in Acts 11:27-28 and there were several with him who are called prophets. These were not apostles.
Is it not assumption(to fit a preconceived view) to say these prophets received their gifting through the apostolic laying on of hands.
Yet even if one were to concede that point does it not show that others besides the apostles were used by God's Spirit in the exercise of spiritual gifts.
My view for continuation is based on Scripture irrespective of how common the execise of these gifts are. Even if no one claimed to be exercising these gifts in the present day to me that would not get round the Scripture that encourages us to seek the gifts.

Richard Pajak

Steve Davis's picture

Mark Snoeberger wrote:
The admission that apostolism has ceased, finally, militates strongly against the continuation of all forms of special revelation (including tongues).

I don’t follow the argument made from 2 Cor. 12:12 although I understand the reasoning in search of proof for the cessation of tongues. The “signs of an apostle” are listed as “signs, wonders, and miracles.” Are tongues included? Tongues were given as sign (I Cor. 14:22) but of what? It has not been clearly demonstrated that tongues are in view in 2 Cor. 12:12 since Paul had already addressed the issue of tongues that were present in the assembly in the absence of an apostle (whether languages or ecstatic speech). If tongues were among the signs they were still active, although abused, in the church of Corinth after Paul’s departure. A line of reasoning has been adopted that leads to the author’s conclusions but which conclusions cannot be drawn from the text.

A better argument for the cessation of tongues (or in my opinion rarity of tongues) can be made from the text where the relatively few occurrences of tongues speaking occur in the Book of Acts (chps. 2, 10, 19) in transitions of the gospel to different people. Three recorded times in 30 years does not constitute a movement or anything near normative for Christians or churches, much less a sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit as erroneously claimed by some. This observation would allow for the God-given ability to speak in tongues, an unlearned not unknown language, in analogous transitions today in pioneer missionary situations while rejecting the tongues movement as we know it today which lacks biblical support. The author suggests that the exercise of tongues in the NT involved special revelation, connects tongues to the apostles as a sign gift, then makes tongues disappear. His argument would be bolstered if tongues were used for special revelation. However, in the Acts passages it is not a question of special revelation - it is more a proclamation or clarification of the gospel.

Ted Bigelow's picture

Hi Steve,

It is important to point out the relatively scarce biblical data in Acts for tongues. It is a good supporting argument for cessationism. Its a point that I, as your fellow cessationist, will grant you.

But someone who is a continuationist probably won't.

They will walk you two books to the right and expect you to agree that tongues was not merely used to communicate the gospel in transitionary missionary contexts, but was also used regularly in the Corinthian church worship services (1 Cor. 14:23).

They will show you that Paul didn't consider it a rarity, for for he took the better part of a chapter to regulate its usage. They'll even show that Paul commended tongues speaking, for he could say, "I wish that you all spoke in tongues" (1 Cor. 14:5).

You might also reconsider your small point at the end, that tongues was not special revelation. Paul links it firmly with prophecy in 1 Corinthians 14.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Quote:
Some whom we call theologians and scholars show their lack of common sense by ignoring the obvious in scripture to give some credence to the smoke and mirrors continuation movement. We out Greek the Greeks by overstating the specific in a text while ignoring the broader and immediate contexts of passages

Bob, this is more than a little arrogant and insulting. What do you think motivates "some whom we call theologians" to study the passage carefully? They are just trying to make alliances with Charismatics, I suppose? Good luck convincing everyone of that. If it were obvious, sincere and respected theologians and scholars by the scores (and all different backgrounds) would not see the need to try to figure it out.

But even aside from the issue of why so many would carefully study the "obvious," there is one thing that is obvious here: nobody has ever been persuaded of the error of his ways by "obviously you're wrong" and a dismissive wave of the hand. If they are persuaded at all, it's by someone giving thoughtful attention to the reasons they offer for their mistaken beliefs. My hat's off to all who thoughtfully wrestle with the issues involved, regardless of what they conclude in the end.

(The fact that nobody has been able to produce "objective" evidence tongues, healings, etc. only proves that they have not occurred in recent memory. Many reasons can be proposed as to why that's the case. The absence of observational evidence does not prove anything about what the Scriptures teach.)

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.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Aaron Blumer wrote:

(The fact that nobody has been able to produce "objective" evidence tongues, healings, etc. only proves that they have not occurred in recent memory. Many reasons can be proposed as to why that's the case. The absence of observational evidence does not prove anything about what the Scriptures teach.)

Now this sounds familiar! Smile

Dave Barnhart

Steve Davis's picture

Hi Ted;

Thank you for your comments although I'm not sure I should be counted as a fellow cessationist Smile I have used the term "soft cessationist" for myself since I do allow (and believe Scripture does also) the use of tongues in pioneer missionary encounters. I also think the evidence for that is overwhelming in spite of some of the dismissive, huff and puff posted comments for whom their extensive experience and the charismatic confusion in our Western context is the guide. That does not mean I accept every experience related as genuine. You can see here for something I wrote in this vein. http://sharperiron.org/2009/01/07/dreams-and-visions

Your point about Corinth is well taken. However I am still not sure that we understand what was going on in the church. Tongues were "used" but the emphasis is on "abused." It's hard to work from the abuse of tongues in one church to imagine that they were prevalent in other churches in the absence of any indication of use or abuse in churches. Admittedly it's a argument from silence but a rather loud silence that points away from tongues as practiced or perverted at Corinth as anything but normative.

I would like to think that tongues in Corinth were the same as in Acts - known languages. However I have not yet been able to come down on one side or the other. Others seem to know better than I what was going on. It remains somewhat of a mystery for me and I am unconvinced at this point (and open to being convinced) that we can jump from Acts to I Corinthians and assume or prove that tongues are the same. Yet, whatever was going on, although tongues were not to be forbidden (I Cor. 14:39) in Corinth, Paul certainly relativizes the importance of them, regulates them, and said earlier "that tongues will cease" (I Cor. 13:8). This would make better sense if the tongues at Corinth were not the same as the tongues in Acts. This also would answer the point about tongues as special revelation.Clearly there was no special revelation in the Acts occurrences of tongues speaking. If there was special revelation at Corinth it wasn’t inscripturated so of only tempora and local value. So I don't think it's a tidy as some want to make it. I like things tidy as well but am still wrestling with this one. Either way there is no tongues movement in the NT or support for one, certainly not an experience to be sought or evidence of Spirit baptism.

Grace & Peace,
Steve

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

dcbii wrote:
Aaron Blumer wrote:

(The fact that nobody has been able to produce "objective" evidence tongues, healings, etc. only proves that they have not occurred in recent memory. Many reasons can be proposed as to why that's the case. The absence of observational evidence does not prove anything about what the Scriptures teach.)

Now this sounds familiar! Smile

You got me. I should have hat tipped. I suppose I'm guilty of "journalistic malfeasance." J-)
For those wondering.... http://sharperiron.org/filings/4-15-10/14608#comment-13009

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.

Ted Bigelow's picture

Hi Steve,

In 1 Corinthians the gift of tongues is listed as a spiritual gift (1 Cor. 12:10, 28-30), and this will distinguish it from the uses of tongues in Acts.

As a spiritual gift, it was under the control of the person thus gifted, to be exercised at will (same as your obvious gift of teaching is exercised at your will). This is why Paul could command tongues be regulated in 1 Cor. 14, because it was a gift, and therefore under the control of the tongues-speaker.

In Acts though, the tongues was a supernatural effect of the Holy Spirit not under the control of the tongues speaker, c.f., Acts 2:4). It sovereignly came upon the tongues speakers without permission of their will.

This distinction makes any present day experience of tongues in a missionary context analogous to Acts 2, but not 1 Cor. 14. The speakers cannot use tongues at will, but if you listen to the stories, it comes upon the tongues-speaker in a sovereign manner.

Sorry for labeling you a cessationist. But maybe now with this distinction in mind, perhaps you will become a hard cessationist?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Why couldn't it be a spiritual gift in Acts 2 also? "as the spirit gave them utterance" doesn't need to be taken as "as the Spirit took direct control of their mouths and made words come out"... so I'm not sure the distinction is valid.

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

Perhaps one problem here is that we have too easily kicked 1 Cor. 13 to the curb and driven on. It has been all about the tongues here. We need to look at the actual big picture of evidence and emphasis of scripture with regard to tongues as manifested in the present day Charismatic and Pentecostal movements. If these movements didn't exist the doctrine of continuationism would be a theory not given much attendance. The Biblical evidence for continuationism is not very compelling.

First, as most posting here know, there are three occasions of tongue speaking in Acts.

At Acts chapter two we have people who are Jewish and from various parts of the Roman empire hearing the gospel of the Jewish Messiah spoken in their various native tongues by men not versed in their languages. This could be termed as miracle gifts of languages. They were given actual existing human languages.

In Acts chapter 10 Peter goes to the house of Cornelius and preaches the gospel of the Jewish Messiah to gentiles and the Holy Spirit evidently again gave gifts of miracle languages. Peter defends his preaching to the Gentiles by referring to the fact that the same phenomena occurred as had occurred to them at Pentecost (Acts 11:15). These were then existing human languages.

In Acts chapter 19 Paul came upon some converts of John the Baptist. These may have been already saved under the OT economy but needed to know the message of the Jewish Messiah and believe in Him now that he had come and died for their sins. There was again the phenomena of a miracle of languages given. Since this is recorded by Luke without further comment we may assume that this phenomena was the same as that recorded earlier by Luke in chapters two and ten. This then was most likely actual human languages.

So far we have no Angelic languages or Heavenly prayer languages.

We have then, three NT occurrences of miracle languages. All appear to be known human languages. All were connected to the proclamation of the gospel of the Messiah to special people groups. First, Jews from all over the empire, then gentiles, and third followers of the OT message of John the Baptist received the gospel. All were evidently given a miraculous phenomena to authenticate the gospel of the Jewish Messiah. From a historical perspective we have three occurrences of miracle languages in the NT in Acts.

Then comes the gift of languages mentioned as occurring historically but within the context of a teaching passage. That sole teaching passage on miracle languages is of course at 1 Corinthians chapters 12 through 14. Here, in the midst of a geographical assembly of Christians, there is evidently an emphasis on manifesting gifts given by the Holy Spirit, and a special emphasis on the gift of miracle languages or tongues. The whole passage involving chapters 12 through 14 appears obviously written with the purpose of deemphasizing the seeking of Spiritual gifts and of leveling the playing field so that no one gift is seen as desirable above another. So the purpose is clearly not to promote "tongues" but to minimize their importance and temporarily regulate. Yet, this is looked at as the passage, along with the Acts occurrences, upon which the whole Pentecostal, Charismatic, and third wave movements are built. Now we have Heavenly prayer languages and Angelic languages as alleged to regularly given to all who shall seek. We have allowed a passage that deemphasizes something to be allowed to promote the very thing it deemphasizes. Some continuationists allow this to be so as they focus on the specific of tongues perhaps ceasing in the future and not during the church age. They then fail to denounce the present Charismatic movement because they fail to see that regardless of their exegesis on 13:8-13, the entire three chapters emphasis gives no place for the present day continuationism as practiced by the Charismatics and Pentecostals. Many then give some credence to the present day movements by focusing on this specific smaller portion while not giving proper value to the broad context. Regardless of when one postulates that the declared ceasing and vanishing of tongues and prophecy will occur, the entire passage is against any movements emphasizing those gifts and giving undue emphasis to any gifts.

It can be said with clear dogmatism that there is not one bit of scripture to support the present day manifestations of continuing tongues and prophecy. With that it can also be said that the rest of the manifestations and claims of the movement offer nothing but deceit and even heresy. Do away with these movements and you have no one left to defend with continuationism. From present day tongues miracle occurrences springs the faith healing, name it and claim it, prosperity gospel, words of knowledge and prophecy, and other such phenomena and claims. It is all part of the alleged present manifestations of the Spirit. It is a large part of the reason why continuationism exists in evangelicalism as a doctrine.

. Since the Azusa Street occurrences in a Black church from 1906 to 1913, many have been persuaded to seek the miracle of language gifting or tongues and accompanying miracles. This rapidly spread among many whites who left churches and started new ones. The Assemblies of God were established in 1914. Thus the Pentecostal movement was born. The racial issue is mentioned because in those days there was wide spread prejudice, even in Southern California. Some have said that this crossing of racial lines was an evidence of God being in the movement. This is interesting. A Black Pastor friend of mine, who also taught part time at Talbot, said he has studied this as much as possible and does not feel the church at Azusa Street was really preaching the true gospel. It was an emotional Jesus message. He offered the opinion that most among whom the original tongues outbreak occurred may not have been born again. It was just an emotional spiritual experience to them. He claims this has been, and continues to be, a problem in many Black churches.

If one looks at the big picture with regard to the Corinthian teaching passage, it appears to me it must be admitted that it was written to deemphasize and regulate tongues. But, more than that, Paul in chapter 13 de emphasizes all spiritual gifts and makes them subservient and less desirable than a character trait called "love." Spirit manifestation in Christian love is desirable above all. Characteristics of this love are given. One of those is that love "rejoices in the truth." It seems to me that many in the continuation movement have advocated a love that minimizes the truth and then seek to label as arrogant or unloving any who seek to claim the movement is not biblical or seek to cite the objective evidence gathered that reveals the fraud and deceit of the present day Charismatic and Pentecostal movements. This kind of pressure has been applied in the greater evangelical community for some decades now. The result has been an increasing attitude that minimizes the special nature of Biblical miracles and revelation and that is less willing to interpret scripture in a way that may criticize so called brothers in Christ. The bottom line result is that many are willing to minimize the statement of 1Cor. 13:8 that tongues and prophecy will cease and pass away. All sorts of non contextual theories are brought to bear on the passage. The person of Christ or His coming are often mentioned but not in the context. Instead, these temporal manifestations are in a context where this ceasing and passing away will be in contrast to temporal Spirit manifestations and then "faith, hope, and love" that will remain. Remain where? Obviously in the geographical assembly he is writing to. Has he not just stated to them to seek love above all? Then in chapter 14 Paul continues with the present status of the assembly with regard to requirements they should have while tongues are still being practiced. As then practiced, he makes the phenomena less desirable than meaningful prophecy. Why all the controversy of continuationism v. cessationism? Because there are many who cannot or will not take a definite stand against the present Charismatic and Pentecostal movements. It has come be to more acceptable to be tolerant of those who differ. However, in this case the Charismatic movement does continual immeasurable harm to the Gospel and Christ while we fail to speak loudly and clearly against them.

I appreciate the article by Mark Snoeberger and his endeavoring to stand clearly against the continuation doctrine and the harm it causes by giving some credibility to the present day Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. My only difference would be his passing by the weight of the arguments of the Corinthian passage because he perceived it as now being a minority argument.

Fundamentalism involves cessationism. The original Fundamentalists did not speak loudly or much against Pentecostalism because their focus was on faith essentials and it was not a very large or threatening movement. But they did speak against it. R.A Torrey, who held to a separate Baptism of the Spirit did contrast it to the new views and tongues. All had no place for the new movement. As Fundamentalism progressed as a movement, all who claimed the title gave no place to continuationism in their churches or elsewhere. Today, I do not believe you can classify yourself as a Fundamentalist and acknowledge the Pentecostal or Charismatic movement as having any validity. Also, if that is so, there is no reason for a Fundamentalist to embrace the concept of continuationism. If they insist they are Fundamentalist and do so, it would be but an empty optional theory with no support in present practice. In my opinion, the minute one advocates or acknowledges any validity in the Charismatic movement they move away from true Fundamentalism.

Ted Bigelow's picture

Aaron,

Tongues in Acts came by a sovereign empowerment by the Holy Spirit to authenticate the gospel message. This is different than exercising a spiritual gift. There are 6 evidences for this distinction:

1) *All*, not some, were filled with Holy Spirit (HS) and spoke in tongues (Acts 2:4). Yet only *some* possess the spiritual gift of tongues (1 Cor. 12:30).

2) In Acts 2:4, a group is given utterance when enabled by the HS. In the spiritual gift's exercise in the assembly, utterance ought only to come when it is proper, based on doing all thing in order (1 Cor. 14:40).

3) The word for *filled* in Acts 2:4 is "pimplemi," rather than "pleroo." Luke uses both but with differing nuances. In passages that reference the Holy Spirit, "pimplemi" *always* describes a sovereign bestowment of power that is visible to others, takes control of the recipient, and produces powerful speaking results (i.e., Acts 4:8).

4) In Acts 2 there was no corresponding gift of interpretation, as there was with the gift of tongues (1 Cor. 12:10). In Acts 2 Luke tells us that the tongues speakers spoke in the hearer's "dialectoi" (vv. 6, 8). These tongues did not need a spiritual gift of interpretation to be understood. Therefore, the miracle on the day of Pentecost was not a miracle of hearing, as was often the case in the gift of tongues, but a miracle of speaking.

5) In Acts 2 the tongues is being spoken to unbelievers and led to salvation. But non-Christians in the assembly were tempted to think the gift of tongues was a sign of idiocy, 1 Cor. 14:23. The spiritual gift of tongues possessed the power to edify the body of Christ, 1 Cor. 12:7, 1 Cor. 14:5. In Acts, all the occurrences of tongues occur outside of the assembly.

6) In 1 Cor. 14:2 those with the spiritual gift of tongues speak of *mysteries* - i.e., revelation, and thus had a teaching function. But the tongues in Acts are evangelistic and also confirmatory of a person's salvation (Acts 10:46, Acts 19:6). They may have been revelatory in Acts, but the text in Acts does not clearly indicate they were for teaching.

So, the temporary gift in Acts was a sovereign bestowment upon the recipients which forced open their mouths to exalt the Lord. There is no indication such a bestowment continued, or was under the control of the tongues speaker. However, the ongoing spiritual gift of tongues granted to some in the church for the purpose of evangelizing the lost (1 Cor. 14:22), and secondarily, to edify the body, as is the case with all spiritual gifts.

Bob T.'s picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Quote:
Some whom we call theologians and scholars show their lack of common sense by ignoring the obvious in scripture to give some credence to the smoke and mirrors continuation movement. We out Greek the Greeks by overstating the specific in a text while ignoring the broader and immediate contexts of passages

Bob, this is more than a little arrogant and insulting. What do you think motivates "some whom we call theologians" to study the passage carefully? They are just trying to make alliances with Charismatics, I suppose? Good luck convincing everyone of that. If it were obvious, sincere and respected theologians and scholars by the scores (and all different backgrounds) would not see the need to try to figure it out.

But even aside from the issue of why so many would carefully study the "obvious," there is one thing that is obvious here: nobody has ever been persuaded of the error of his ways by "obviously you're wrong" and a dismissive wave of the hand. If they are persuaded at all, it's by someone giving thoughtful attention to the reasons they offer for their mistaken beliefs. My hat's off to all who thoughtfully wrestle with the issues involved, regardless of what they conclude in the end.

(The fact that nobody has been able to produce "objective" evidence tongues, healings, etc. only proves that they have not occurred in recent memory. Many reasons can be proposed as to why that's the case. The absence of observational evidence does not prove anything about what the Scriptures teach.)

Aaron, sorry you feel that way about my approach to this matter.

Regarding my approach to this matter. In my subsequent post I give my perspective on the handling of the 1 Cor. 11 to 14 passage and that some have essentially ignored context to shunt the ceasing of tongues off to another time. Some of this may be due to the lack of Spiritual backbone by some academics. We can see that some we call scholars are not the most rigorous in standing against pressure to be accepted. This is seen regarding the present thread on SI about some alleged renown OT scholars such as Waltke and Creationism. I believe I have seen the cave in by several scholars, Pastors, and missioligists on the tongues, signs and wonders movement. Peter Wagner of Fuller Seminary was a church growth and Missions specialist. In the 1970s and 80s he hypothesized the signs and wonders gospel movement with claims that such were present in some missions work outside our western culture. Soon there were stories going around of all the wonders. Problem is they were checked out by some and just were not verifiable. A local Missionary Alliance church had several missionaries with stories. They actually checked them out and ended up dropping the missionaries and dropping out of the CMA denomination. They are today a growing independent church of 800 called Faith Community Church. Today I see this signs and wonders missionary hypothesis even being proclaimed by a few who claim to be "Fundamentalists." To me it is like last decades newspaper. Many who cave in for tolerance of Charismatics and signs and wonders are often attempting to be more open, or perceived as more scholarly, or more loving.

As far as what you said about a lack of evidence only proving present reality. I agree. But unless you have a new fangled time machine that is what reality is - the present! And that is what we're talking about. The reality of present practice does not prove scripture but it must not be contrary to scripture.

Steve Davis's picture

Ted Bigelow wrote:
This distinction makes any present day experience of tongues in a missionary context analogous to Acts 2, but not 1 Cor. 14. The speakers cannot use tongues at will, but if you listen to the stories, it comes upon the tongues-speaker in a sovereign manner.

That's my point for arguing for tongues today in missionary contexts.

Ted Bigelow wrote:
Sorry for labeling you a cessationist. But maybe now with this distinction in mind, perhaps you will become a hard cessationist?

Don't hold your breath on this. I'm also post-labelist Smile

Thanks Ted.

Bob T.'s picture

Richard Pejak, I reply to your reply to my post as follows: (Your posts in bold type)

"The topic under discussion is about tongues so the fact that "it's all about tongues" is self evident. The Holy Spirit's operating today however is not "all about tongues". Opponents would like to characature it as such but what it is all about is simply the Holy Spirit moving among His people as described in Scripture....Or so it is as a continuationist looks at it. These kinds of things were occurring before Azusa St. If one majors on tongues then one is unbalanced in ones perception. All the gifts of the Spirit are to be received without necessarily imposing (in my view) a strict hierarchical order unless Scripture dictates. "

First, most continuationists do not claim "these things" were occurring before Azusa Street. A few Pentecostals have. But the more informed have backed off of such claims. You need to read Vinson Synon, "The Holiness Pentecostal Movement." He was a Pentecostal leader and a well respected historian of the movement. Other than little known Charles F. Parham, he sees no prior tongue speaking. He traces the tongues movement as rising out of the 19th century Holiness movement where tongues were not practiced. You indicate that the Holy Spirit operating today is not all about tongues. All would agree to that. The only NT admonition to "be filled with the Spirit" does not mention any Spiritual gifts at all. It is at Eph. 5:18 and puts Spirit filling (control) in the context of the Husband wife relationship and also children and work. It involves character not gifts. I preached on this passage and its meaning to a Charismatic RV group. They promptly asked me to never come back again and called me a heretic. I did not even bring in the tongues or their view into the discussion. They were offended that I thought one could be filled with the Spirit without mentioning speaking in tongues. Are these the kind of things you allege were happening before Azusa Street? I take it then that you acknowledge the validity of the Pentecostal experience and viewpoint. Is that so?

"I can imagine if you were around in Jesus day that you may have been equally as sceptical of what He did and found plausible reasons for denying that His works were genuine and if you were were in Jerusalem at the time of the outpouring of the Spirit you may well have joined in the sceptical comments as you heard the disciples speaking in foreign tongues.
From your present vantage point of being a believer in Christ you might deny that if you had been there that you would have been sceptical but you would have no basis for believing otherwise.
I can imagine that even if you had someone before you who had been healed and the healing had been medically verified yet that you would find some reason to denounce it or like the world to rationalise it. Whenever anyone is healed it brings glory to the Lord. There are 1000s of everyday believers who are continuationists and who may exercise the gifts they have who by their lives contribute to the glory of God. Bringing glory to God is not the sole prerogative of cessationists."

In answer to this let me say that of course I would believe and accept all that Jesus and the Apostles did as I do so today. I believe and affirm all the miracles and phenomena of the Bible. I am a believer in Christ as my savior. However, the nature and type of biblical miracles are far different from the healing and miracle claims of most all today. I have been healed twice of Cancer. God used all the scientific and medical knowledge he has allowed us to discover. He used the training and wisdom of Physicians. All physical healing is of God. He is also able to answer the prayer for healing and always does so according to His will and plan. That has little to do with the approach of the present day healing movement. In an RV (Recreation Vehicle) group we attended for a while, two persons prayed and claimed healing and then testified that they knew God had healed them of Cancer as others had agreed with them in prayer. At another meeting six months later, they praised God for His healing. At the next meeting six months later they were not there. In spite of surgery and Chemo they had died of their Cancer. I had refused to claim healing and only asked that God do what He sought best. God used surgery and Chemo. He may have also intervened otherwise, I do not know. However I am alive ten years later. However, of course a time will come when God will say no and I will die. As will all. Richard, most cessationists believe that most Spiritual gifts are operative. They also believe God answers prayer for the sick. However, they believe some gifts are no longer operative and that we can't demand or claim healing. Your statement appears to be as one who acknowledges the faith healing and and name it and claim it concepts of the Charismatics. Do you really believe that Oral Robert (now deceased) and Benny Hinn were and are healing people?

"It is a very sweeping statement to imply that all continuationists proclaim a non saving prosperity gospel...you might as well say that JWs are an offshoot of cessationist gospel preaching."

Richard, first I did not say "all." However one can legitimately say "many." Their have been two very informative articles in "Christianity Today" recently. One was on the wide spread and devastating effect of the preaching of the health and wealth Gospel in Africa. Many are hearing a false gospel and being converted to a promise of prosperity rather than the believing in Christ for forgiveness of sin and salvation. Another major article stated the same about Christianity in South America. If you don't want to believe these articles by Christian leaders in those areas, then just turn on your TV to TBN or even other Christian channels. The evidence is obvious and extensive. The health and wealth gospel comes only from Charismatics and is increasingly more popular with them.

Characterizing the opposition as lacking common sense is using a belittling argument as cover for the blatantly false assertion that there is anything "totally obvious" in Scripture.
Politicians do the same, assassinating the integrity, character and motives of their opponents.

The term "common sense" refers to a world view and thinking process. It does not refer to integrity, character, or motive. It is a term referring to a common expectation that we have that people acknowledge the reality of evidence or facts and that they draw conclusions that recognize the obvious. There is a sense common to all of normal thinking ability. There is a book out by a lawyer titled "The Death of Common Sense, " He states that American culture has lost an ability to think as clearly as it once could. From a philosophical standpoint this has to do with the rise of existentialism in the universities in the sixties (we now call it postmodernity) and laid the foundation for the moral relativism of todays culture. This lack of common sense also laid the foundation of the rise of the Charismatic movement. Pentecostalism broke out into the broader evangelical culture. Today we have many (not all) who lack the ability to think clearly. We even call some of them scholars. I believe that we do have scholars who in key areas have rejected the obvious, and come up with detailed arguments which assert the not so obvious. We now have a thread on SI which is regarding renown OT scholars and their advocating the necessity of accepting evolution and rejecting simple creationism. There are more than just a little of this among evangelical scholars today. Some Fundamentalists want to be accepted as knowledgeable and may fail to point out this kind of scholarship for what it is.

Richard, I have answered your remarks. You state you are a continuationist. However, you seem to also be defending the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements and their miracle and healing claims. Are you Charismatic? If not, to what degree do you accept their claims?
Thank you for your interaction.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Steve Davis wrote:
Mark Snoeberger wrote:
The admission that apostolism has ceased, finally, militates strongly against the continuation of all forms of special revelation (including tongues).

I don’t follow the argument made from 2 Cor. 12:12 although I understand the reasoning in search of proof for the cessation of tongues. The “signs of an apostle” are listed as “signs, wonders, and miracles.” Are tongues included? Tongues were given as sign (I Cor. 14:22) but of what?

For what sign then, do you propose are tongues? I am interested in the hermeneutic that gives forces to an alternative argument as well as a biblical comparison to the nature of these kinds of signs (there are differing signs in the bible but here we are discussing supernatural/miraculous signs which is the kind of gift tongues is) which have always been limited in context, scope, duration, audience and purpose. This departure demands a very weighty cause in its argument.

Steve Davis wrote:
This observation would allow for the God-given ability to speak in tongues, an unlearned not unknown language, in analogous transitions today in pioneer missionary situations while rejecting the tongues movement as we know it today which lacks biblical support.
This appears to be your banner argument, that with the exception of this context you understand the invalid use of tongues. Along with the above I am also interested in the hermeneutic that would give force to this argument. Simply observing a context and then asserting that if a similar context would arise today gives reason for us to allow the view that it is possible God will use this gift, at this point, lacks an argument. It appears to beg the response that if this is so then I should be able to believe that if I show up with a staff in my hand and someone refuses to let my family member go when I know they are wrongly being held, I should have reason to expect that I could throw my staff down and it will turn into a snake to convince this person they should cooperate, after all this an "analogous" context, hence it should allow for this (and how many more analogous situations can we run across?).

I have not seen this "analogous transition" or situation argument forwarded by an orthodox teacher. It seems novel and while novel arguments my indeed be valid and possibly even help the body of Christ make a turn from a long period of ignorance, usually they are based in very well developed and persuasive arguments bedded in a strong hermeneutic.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Possibly you might want to consider the platform on which you assert your strong rejection.

Richard Pajak wrote:
I am afraid I remain unconvinced of your arguments Mark. You will have to produce something better than that to carry any weight. I have Scripture to back up my views that the gifts should be operational today.
As I perceive it you have to try to argue away the plain teaching of Scripture in order for your argument to look reasonable.

Richard Pajak wrote:
First of all I claim no great scholarship, theological training or ability to articulate my views as well as I would like. I'm just an ordinary joe and can't compare with some of the intellect on this site.

It is a rather difficult position for one to proclaim their rejection of an argument by someone whose argument is first, incomplete seeing this is a series, secondly it is based in a fair amount of scholarship and a consistent hermeneutic and thirdly the person making this immediate rejection admits they, themselves, have a diminished view of their own scholarship and theological training.

This does not make one unable to respond or their views without merit but your basis for dismissal so early is immodest, particularly when, if indeed you have a diminished view of your scholarship and theological training and you are reading a proposal by one whose argument is based in a consistent hermeneutic and fair scholarship your first response is to proclaim your lack of being convinced. By what measure do you claim this if indeed, as you have revealed, your own lacking debilitates your articulations and approach? I certainly do not see any rebuttal based in a demonstration of some fault with Snoeberger's hermeneutic? Where is his exegesis faulty?

Richard Pajak's picture

Sorry about the delay.I spent about an hour formulating my response Bob, but all that was sent was a blank sheet. I will retype my reply.

Richard Pajak

Richard Pajak's picture

Hi again Bob,
It doesn't matter to me what other continuationists believe( I have never liked following the crowd) as there will always be disagreements to some degree as there will be in the cessationist camp.
I have to make my own decision based on Scripture.
As I understand it the Roman church persecuted people who displayed anything of the Spirit that didn't fit in with their system so it seems that spiritual gifts were suppressed by the very church to whom it was meant to be a blessing.
It is possible, I think, to be filled with the Spirit and not speak in tongues or neccessarily have the other expressions of the Spirit (though I am happy for God to prove me wrong)
From Scripture itself it would be duishonest of me to deny the validity of the pentecostal experience both in the past and in the present. Though there are different emphases among the pentecostal branches just as there are are among cessationist groups.
I wouldn't be overly concerned about being called a heretic, after all continuationists are constantly being accused of this by hard line cessationists...they just get used to this as one of the default positions of the more zealous cessationists.
Regarding faith healing, I prefer to call it divine healing or God healing as faith healing has acquired negative associations like "psychologically induced" as well as detracting from the fact that it is God who heals.
I can't say I have studied Roberts or Hinn but they will be known by their fruits and God will be judge.
Being English I have a hard time listening to some American preachers who tend to be noisy and flamboyantly over-emotional so someone like Hinn I don't warm to. Kathryn Kuhlman I could listen to all day but not Benny.
As to naming and claiming well I wish I had the faith to do so but the Lord hasn't blessed me with that kind of faith but from Scripture I must believe that there is available a kind of faith that, in Christ's words, can remove mountains or that anything asked will be done for you.
It seems illogical and an excuse for failing that test of faith if I were to argue it away saying it doesn't mean what it says or that it is not relevant today.
So name and claim sits uneasy with me but I am willing to concede that this may be down to a lack of faith on my part.
I am not into the health and wealth gospel myself.
With regard to the issue of common sense, well, the evolutionist would use exactly the same argument against you saying that you deny the obvious evidence and they would accuse you of not exercising common sense.
It is often not any evidence that decides ones view but rather the interpretation of that evidence.
It is possible to have the same evidence but come to totally different conclusions.
I believe that God brought about the pentecostal renewal to revive a weak church and renewed the other operations of the Spirit.
I believe that God uses people, some in healing, some in preaching, some in evangelism etc
I see no shame or reason to apologise for defending the charismatic renewal or pentecostalism while at the same time acknowledging that all flesh is fallible and capable of going astray and corrupting what God wants to do.
I know that especially from my own frailties.
I fail to heed Pauls injunction to earnestly desire the spiritual gifts. I do however desire more of a vital relationship with God for if I am close to Him then I will have everything (in that closeness) that I could ever want...His very presence.

Richard Pajak

Richard Pajak's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Possibly you might want to consider the platform on which you assert your strong rejection.

Richard Pajak wrote:
I am afraid I remain unconvinced of your arguments Mark. You will have to produce something better than that to carry any weight. I have Scripture to back up my views that the gifts should be operational today.
As I perceive it you have to try to argue away the plain teaching of Scripture in order for your argument to look reasonable.

Richard Pajak wrote:
First of all I claim no great scholarship, theological training or ability to articulate my views as well as I would like. I'm just an ordinary joe and can't compare with some of the intellect on this site.

It is a rather difficult position for one to proclaim their rejection of an argument by someone whose argument is first, incomplete seeing this is a series, secondly it is based in a fair amount of scholarship and a consistent hermeneutic and thirdly the person making this immediate rejection admits they, themselves, have a diminished view of their own scholarship and theological training.

This does not make one unable to respond or their views without merit but your basis for dismissal so early is immodest, particularly when, if indeed you have a diminished view of your scholarship and theological training and you are reading a proposal by one whose argument is based in a consistent hermeneutic and fair scholarship your first response is to proclaim your lack of being convinced. By what measure do you claim this if indeed, as you have revealed, your own lacking debilitates your articulations and approach? I certainly do not see any rebuttal based in a demonstration of some fault with Snoeberger's hermeneutic? Where is his exegesis faulty?

I was reacting to the points made thus far. That was surely a legitimate thing to do. He is, I assume trying to convince people of the validity of his argument, even if only the first part had been written it is only on what was so far written that I responded. I assume he is not going to be arguing a contrary point in his other series. I assume he is trying to convince people irrespective of their theological training or intellect so I responded and being as I seem to be the sole person defending continuation I merely expressed that his argument thus far has not been convincing to me.

Richard Pajak

Mark Snoeberger's picture

Hello all. I forgot that this was being posted and didn’t check in until there were 27 posts already. I don’t have time to answer all, but I do want to address the recurring issue that tongues as “signs of an apostle” does not logically exclude other believers from speaking in tongues. I’ll concede up front that these words alone do not exclude others from speaking in tongues. And, in fact, we have non-apostles speaking in tongues in Acts 10–11 and 19. But I’d like to offer the following two points in response:

(1) 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.

Illustration: Suppose you meet me on the street and I tell you I’m a seminary professor. You have doubts about my identity, so I say I can prove that I am who I claim to be. I offer one salient argument: “You can know for sure that I’m a seminary professor because I read the Bible, and all seminary professors read the Bible.” Now it may be true that all seminary professors read the Bible, but reading the Bible doesn’t make someone a seminary professor—lots of people other than seminary professors read the Bible too! In order to make my case I would need to offer a more exclusive argument—something unique to seminary professors. Paul seems to think that his argument is conclusive. He is an apostle because signs of an apostle had been done in their midst under his oversight. The implicit argument is that such signs mark him off uniquely as an apostle. Unless this is true, Paul has proven nothing.

(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.

MAS

Bob T.'s picture

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.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Ted... about post #19 http://sharperiron.org/article/are-tongues-for-today-part-2#comment-13174
That's got to me one of the most thorough answers to an "I'm not sure" I've ever seen. Thanks. I'm still not completely convinced (I think I can "explain away" most of those... but there may some I can't and my explainings might be pretty weak too), but when I get time to sit down and figure it out, I'm going to look for your post.

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.

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