Continuationism

A Case for Cessationism, Part 3

From Maranatha Baptist Theological Journal, Vol 3, No. 2, Fall 2013. Reproduced with permission. Read the series so far.

Approaching the Issue

The issue whether the sign gifts continue or have ceased is closely tied to the question of continuing revelation. Is God giving us Scripture today? Are the sign gifts of the New Testament still in operation today? And is the prophetic gift of the Old Testament identical with the prophetic gift in the New Testament? These issues are connected because the New Testament seems to indicate that the sign gifts were apostolic and that they were specifically given to accredit the apostles as the channels through whom God gave the New Testament revelation.

Our position is that the sign gifts of the Spirit were temporary and are not operative today. Maranatha has held this position since its founding. The Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International states this belief:

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A Case for Cessationism, Part 2

From Maranatha Baptist Theological Journal, Vol 3, No. 2, Fall 2013. Reproduced with permission. Read the series so far.

Claims for Continuing Gifts with a Closed Canon

Sovereign Grace

The Sovereign Grace movement is an example of this. This movement affirms that the Bible is the authority for faith, and it denies that God is giving any additional biblical revelation, saying of the Scriptures:

They are totally sufficient and must not be added to, superseded, or changed by later tradition, extra-biblical revelation, or worldly wisdom. Every doctrinal formula­tion, whether of creed, confession, or theology must be put to the test of the full counsel of God in Holy Scripture.16

The movement further affirms “We are evangelical, Reformed, and charismatic.”17 The Sovereign Grace website avers that all the spiritual gifts are for the churches today.

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OT Prophecy and NT Prophecy: Essential Continuity

Reposted from It Is Written. Read the series.

In the last installment of this series, we considered Wayne Grudem’s argument for a distinction between the canonical-level1 prophecy of the Old Testament and the congregational-level prophecy of the New Testament. The former is fully inspired, infallible, and authoritative. The latter is semi-revelational, fallible, and only relatively authoritative. As we saw, Grudem bases this distinction primarily on two lines of evidence: first, examples of fallible NT prophecy and, second, commands to assess the authenticity of NT prophecy.2

I have five lines of response to Grudem’s arguments by which I will attempt to show that the Scriptures do not support Grudem’s distinction between an infallible OT canonical prophecy and a fallible NT congregational prophecy. In contrast, the data of Scripture seems to place NT prophecy in the same divine and authoritative category as OT prophecy. We’ll consider the first three lines of response below.

The Nature of Old Testament Prophecy

The nature of OT prophecy is highlighted in three key passages.

Exodus 7:1-2

Here, Yahweh declares to Moses,

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Canonical Prophecy vs Congregational Prophecy: Wayne Grudem’s Argument

Reposted from It Is Written. Read the series.

Elsewhere we have argued that the canon of the Old and New Testaments is closed.1 If it can be demonstrated that the revelation of NT prophecy and tongues belongs to the same category as the revelation of Scripture and if we grant the cessation of Scripture revelation, then I think we’re forced to conclude that NT prophecy and tongues have ceased. Continuationists, like Wayne Grudem, concede the force of this argument. Grudem writes, “Now if New Testament congregational prophecy was like Old Testament prophecy and New Testament apostolic words in its authority, then this cessationist objection would be true.”2

It is for this reason that Grudem and other continuationists are forced to argue for a distinction between the revelation of Scripture and that of NT tongues and prophecy. Since Wayne Grudem is a leading exponent for this position, we will examine his basic arguments for a distinction between canonical prophecy and NT congregational prophecy.3 Then we will attempt to offer a biblical refutation, demonstrating that NT congregational prophecy belongs to the same class of revelation as Scripture.

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Review – Spiritual Gifts: What They Are & Why They Matter

Much has been written on the topic of spiritual gifts by both cessationists and continuationists. Enter Spiritual Gifts: What They Are & Why They Matter, written by a continuationist turned “nuanced cessationist,” Thomas R. Schreiner. Schreiner is a leading New Testament scholar and the James Harrison Buchanan Professor of New Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Although Schreiner is a New Testament scholar, he writes Spiritual Gifts for the person in the pew who desires to gain more insight into spiritual gifts without having to wade into the exegetical minutia of an in-depth, scholarly treatment of the topic.

Schreiner begins Spiritual Gifts by stating he writes the book not only to support “a kind of cessationism” but also to “sketch in a theology of spiritual gifts.”1 He acknowledges that the issue of cessationism can easily become polemical and divisive, but as is typical for Schreiner, he desires to approach this topic humbly and irenically. It is not surprising then that he dedicates the book to Wayne Grudem, John Piper, and Sam Storms—three notable continuationists.

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