Taking Up The Gauntlet

I intend to go about this in a tri-part manner. First, lay out the contentions of the “cessationists” as they are articulated on Centuri0n’s blog (this post), second, I will post my own definition of my stance and my contentions, then for the fun part I intend to do a forum-style fisk of some of the opinions voiced in the comments

… and his ministers a flame of fire set forth this challenge:

I’m a cessationist (because I’m really a Baptist), and I’d define my position thus:

“Cessationism” is the doctrine that the Apostles and their messengers where given signs and wonders to perform in order to validate the Gospel proclamation, that there is no promise or necessity to any future generation for those gifts, and that there is no “lesser” form of the Apostolic gifts.

If you’re a continualist and you want to discuss this matter, the only way I’ll engage you with more than a flourish of graphics and smart quips is if you begin by defining your position is an equally-concise and equally-specific way. If you cannot manifest the spiritual gifts of brevity or order, I have no interest in a flame war on this topic. I am interested, however, in discussing the idea that God is actively manifesting outwardly-miraculous signs and wonders in the world today for the same reason He has always done such a thing.

Alright, let’s begin to look at this….

Here is their sde of the discussion thus far:

I am interested, however, in discussing the idea that God is actively manifesting outwardly-miraculous signs and wonders in the world today for the same reason He has always done such a thing.

—comments from the gallery—-
Tad Thompson:
We have the greatest sign of all in our possession today, the complete canon of Scripture. As a matter of fact, most of us have three, four, or five copies with at least one as a permanant fixture in the back seat or on the back dash of the car.

If God speaks through tongues (estatic utterances) than are not these words in addition to Scripture. If God speaks through prophecy today, then are not these words equal to Scripture?

If there are prophets and those who truly speak in tongues, who is going to maintain the purity of doctrine. Since I do not beleive any of us were eyewitness to the resurrection or the ministry of Jesus, we are going to have a hard time being authoritative on these issues.

Listen – if someone wants to speak in tongues in private – go for it, I don’t think it is real or beneficial. But, don’t go around telling me that have somehow missed the “full-gospel.”
—-
I ask you this simple question: If God felt the need to validate His message with signs and wonders for 6,000 years (apprx) both when writing canon Scripture, and when not writing canon Scripture…. why did God change?
Do you believe that God’s message no longer needs to be validated to people who are lost? IOW, what do think made God change His mind?
Darel

—–
Cent.:
“If God is still writing Scripture, then God is still performing signs and wonders to validate His word.”

I think there is no difference in quality, for example, between the sign of pentacost and the sign of the plagues on Egypt: both are given by God to verify that it was actually Him in action and that one had better listen up.

Making that confession, in fact, underscores the problem that the continualist encounters: why were the signs given? Were they merely a form of common Grace that God handed out in a kind of random way, or did God have a purpose in manifesting signs?
===

I don’t think God has changed his method of sending His message. His message, however, is now complete.
—-
Cent:
If we can agree that all miracles give glory to God, we have to do a couple more things before we can say we have listened to the whole counsel of Scripture:

— we have to ask ourselves, “Does Scripture say that miracles will happen for no apparent reason or for some explicit reason?”

— we have to ask ourselves, “Does Scripture say that signs from God will manifest themselves randomly or orderly, in the sense that they will clearly point to God or vaguely or weakly point toward God?”

— we have to accept what Scripture says about these things.

I am not saying that God cannot manifest miracles today: I am saying that, since we have Christ and the Holy Spirit, and we have God’s complete word, the necessity of signs in God’s work is over.

darel:
my questions have a lot to do with my belief in what “Gummby” brings up. I don’t think that God only does signs and wonders for a single purpose (i.e. confirming Scripture). If we must reduce God’s purpose to a single one,
then it is to bring glory to Himself. Confirming Scripture is something that brings Him glory. Bringing fire down and burning up the altar that had been doused in water was not about confirming Scripture, yet it was about bringing
glory to God.

=== M Burke
I would suggest that some signs (tongues specifically) were to announce a change of things, in this case the annoucement of the Gospel to the Gentiles as well as the undoing of the God’s curse of the Tower of Babel, in Christ… that is that people of every tribe, nation and tongue are now one family in Christ. Also in this line is the cursing of the fig tree.

Therefore I find the statement that the “messengers where given signs and wonders to perform in order to validate the Gospel proclamation” to be only part of the picture. Perhaps some mention that “signs and wonders also visually expressed some aspect of God’s redemptive intent”.

Regardless, most folks don’t see or look for *the purpose* of miracles that occur in Scripture, rather simply see them as wonderous works, yet God always does things for a purpose and usually tells us explicitly that purpose.

Page 2: my answer, Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?

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