The Cessationism/Continuationism Debate: Where We Agree (and Disagree)

As is the case in most blogging debates, by the time we have discussed something for a few rounds, there is an assumption that the two sides are wildly far apart. That is the nature of blogging. We do not discuss our agreements, but our disagreements.  We also tend to forget that in most debates, there are not simply two positions that stand in opposition to one another, but a continuum of positions between those extremes. Both of these tendencies have been in evidence in our recent discussions of the present day ministry of the Holy Spirit in the church.

In this debate, there are two extremes (I do not intend the word extreme here to be pejorative or to imply extremism; it just means the end of the continuum):

  • The Cessationist extreme holds that God does not speak in any way directly to the individual human since the canon has been closed. Christians should read their Bible, do what it says and make their decisions based solely on what they understand of biblical principles. They would argue that the “sign gifts’ or “miracle gifts” passed away once their purpose was fulfilled in the early church.
  • The Continuationist extreme holds that God continues to reveal truth today that is authoritative for the church – almost at a level with the revelation in scripture. You could call this the Benny Hinn/Kenneth Copeland option. They would argue that the gifts of the Spirit should continue today in every way, and at the same magnitude, that they did during the days of the early church.

The simple fact is that a small number of us in this Baptist debate are at the end of the Cessationist side of the continuum, and almost none of us are at the continuationist extreme. Even some who argued counter to my position admitted they do not completely reject the charismata or the subjective voice of God. I have argued forcefully for the subjective voice of God still being present today and that the Spirit still manifests himself in the church today, as he wills, in the ways described in 1 Corinthians 12. But if I had to plot myself on a graph, I would be much closer to the cessationist extreme on many issues than I would be on the continuationist extreme.

As I have studied and discussed this for years and have been involved in Baptist debates about this here, I have formulated the following opinions and assertions. Concerning the Baptist debate of  continuationism and cessationism, I would put forward the following for your consideration:

1) We ALL agree that the Bible is the final revelation of God and holds all truth, all doctrine and all revelation of the character of God.

None of us, (Baptist) continuationists or cessationists, believe that God is still giving scripture-level revelation today, or that any prophecy, dream, vision, word of wisdom, word of knowledge or message in tongues would have the authority (or anywhere near it) that scripture has. We agree that Scripture is the all-sufficient revelation of God.

Where we disagree is whether God gives guidance on details of life directly to the human heart in addition to working  through the Word. Did God just give me a set of principles for choosing a wife or did he lead me to the woman I”ve been married to for 34 years? Did God call me to the ministry? Did God call me to minister at this church. Continuations would give different answers to these questions based on our understanding of the Word of God than cessationists would.

But neither side has a corner on commitment to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.

2) We ALL agree that God does his work in us by the Holy Spirit using the Word of God as the primary tool of sanctification. 

My motto for my ministry is, “The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to do the Work of God in the People of God.” I think we would all agree that it is through the study of the inspired scripture that we are taught, rebuked, corrected and trained in righteousness so that we may all be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  We agree that the Word of God is the Spirit’s primary tool.

Where we differ is whether God uses other more personal, subjective communication as well.  Is the Word the primary or the only tool?

3) We ALL agree that charlatans and false prophets have abounded in the spiritual realm.

Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 12 to teach the truth about spiritual things because there was so much going on that was false and fleshly. That is still true today. False prophets have announced messages from God that the Bible clearly condemns and charlatans have tricked people into believing they had miraculous powers they do not. We agree, to a large extent, that the televangelists and the prosperity cult and others teach dangerously false doctrines.

Baptist continuationists agree with cessationists judgment on these issues.

Where we disagree (seemingly) is whether the stain of these abuses undermines continuationist doctrines completely. We would ask if the fact that a $100 bill can be counterfeited means that all $100 bills are counterfeit.

4) We ALL agree that decisions should be made on the basis of the wisdom and guidance of the Word.

When we are making decisions, we agree that we should study God’s Word for guidance. If it is commanded in the Word, no further “word” from God is needed. If it is forbidden in Scripture, there is no “word” from God that will countermand or nullify what the Bible says. God does not tell us to leave our spouses or refuse to pay our taxes. No vision, dream or prophecy can undo the clear teaching of the Bible.

The issue is more simple than that. On many of the big decisions of life, the Bible does not speak directly. Whom should I marry? Where should I live? What work should I do? Should I go into the ministry? Should I accept this new job offer or not? Should our church build this new building or enter into this new ministry? Does God, by his Holy Spirit, give us wisdom and direction on those details that are not dealt with in the Bible.

No “word from the lord” can countermand, nullify or contradict scripture. On that we agree. But does God’s Spirit give us guidance where the Word does not?

The Debate Goes On…

The cessationist/continuationist debate is not going away any time soon. My point in this post is to attempt to define where we as Baptists agree on these doctrines and where we disagree. As we have discussed this, too much of the discussion has focused on Benny Hinn and Joel Osteen and such. Those of us who are continuationists share the disdain that cessationists feel toward false teachers in the church.  We agree that the Bible is the all-sufficient standard for truth and doctrine and is God’s final and sufficient revelation.

The question is simple: Does God give guidance beyond that? Does he speak directly to the human heart? Does he still give tongues and prophecy and words of wisdom and knowledge? That is where the debate should lie, and it can be a lively debate. But if we focus on the true points of the debate, it will be more productive.

Comments

  1. says

    Dave

    I’m a cess…cesatio….oh I believe the sign gifts are no longer operable.

    Anyway, even given that, I have to admit the issue is not as cut and dried as I’d love for it to be. For instance, if you’re a dispy, like I am, isn’t there some future fulfillment of “Your old men shall see visions, your young me shall dream dreams”? If so, what does that mean in this debate?

  2. says

    Dave, I consider myself a cessationist, though I may go some places other cessationists don’t go. I definitely agree with you that the Bible is the all-sufficient standard for truth and that that it is final and sufficient revelation. Yet…

    Does God give guidance beyond that? Does he speak directly to the human heart? Yes, I believe God gives guidance “beyond” the Bible. I probably wouldn’t use the terminology “speaking directly to the human heart,” but what I believe might be interpreted by others within that meaning. Jesus said when the Spirit of truth is come He will guide you into all truth. This is speaking of a “direct” guidance by the Spirit to bring us to a proper understanding of the truth. The Spirit and the Word go hand in hand and accomplish the same things, but the Spirit of God is not the Word of God. I think we have God’s guidance through His indwelling teaching Spirit in areas of life that aren’t spoken of directly in the Bible. How does a man know he is called to preach? He can’t find his name in the Bible. If there is not some guidance here, we reduce the call to nothing more than a decision of what vocation one is to follow (and many have done so). What about the call to pastor a church? Is there some guidance for that through the Spirit of God? Or are we just left to ask how much they will pay, how good the schools are, and how nice a house we will live in? All of this leading must align with principles of the Word of God, but I don’t think we are left adrift. (I think I depart from the ideas of some cessationists I’ve heard discuss this.)

    Does he still give tongues and prophecy and words of wisdom and knowledge? No, I don’t think He still gives tongues and prophecy and miraculous knowledge. I believe that I Corinthians 13 and other passages indicate these were to gradually fade away or cease.

    • Dave Miller says

      Robert, you made my point. You call yourself a cessationist but you aren’t on the far end of the continuum. We don’t just have two options, but w wide range of beliefs. I share some views with cessationism but not the root point. There are lots of stops between the extremes.

    • Frank L. says

      “”””I believe that I Corinthians 13 and other passages indicate these were to gradually fade away or cease.”””””

      Where’s that verse in 1Corinthians 13?

        • says

          Hi, Frank. I assume you’re not looking for the actual information on which verse, and rather are making a point that you don’t agree? But in case my assumption is wrong, I am referring to verse 8. “Especially the ‘gradual’ part” is just my feeling about some of these things waning in frequency before passing off the scene. I’m not trying to sell that, it’s just my opinion. Take it or leave it as you wish.

  3. says

    I have had several instances in which I knew something about someone that I couldn’t have known, were it not that God (via the Holy Ghost) revealed it to me, right at that moment. The most recent was this afternoon.

    Our younger son had sinus surgery (went fine) around noon and I’d struck up a conversation at the outpatient surgery center, with a nice lady sitting next to me. She told of a daughter who, through a series of most unfortunate circumstances, found herself with one kidney, and that at only 60% function. I asked her if her daughter, in her early teens, was unusually introspective, thoughtful, and wise for her years.

    She looked me like I’d hit her with a 2X4. When she caught her breath, she said “Oh yes!” and went on to describe how she and her husband, and even the daughter’s siblings, had talked about that.

    I picked up the Gideon Bible next to me and showed her Psalm 90, verse 12. It blew her away, and I told her she should show it to her daughter.

    I still get chill bumps, a half a day later…

    And that was one of the milder incidents.

  4. says

    I would submit that if one is to be faithful to the authority of scripture, then one must believe and act on what it says.
    A new book coming out shortly, *What’s Wrong with Protestant Theology* argues that the *overwhelming biblical emphasis* teaches direct revelation to the human heart:
    1) as the main plot line of the Patriarchal narratives, Moses, Judges and the prophets;
    2) is the essence of “wisdom” in the books of poetry and wisdom;
    3) is the mandate of the temptation narratives (Gen 3; Ex 20; and Mt&Lk 4)
    4) is the content of the New Covenant (Acts 2:39>Isa 59:21; 2Cor 3, Heb 12 >Jer 31:34), and
    5) Is the very mission of Jesus, who will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and “will teach you all things.” (Much, much more on this).
    There’s a great deal more to ponder, besides a skim of the second edition of *On the Cessation of the Charismata.*

    As a “continuationist” I believe that the clear commands of the NT, e.g., to “desire earnestly the best gifts, especially that you may prophesy” is not “sarcasm” or a joke. Nor is the clearest possible teaching in Rom 11:29 “The charismata and the calling of God are NOT withdrawn.”
    For a summary: http://www.jonruthven.org/cessation/
    Historically in the church, cessationism was a doctrine developed by Hellenistic pagan philosophers and Jewish scribes against Christianity, which expressed the “Age of the Spirit” that is, the Kingdom of God, inaugurated by Jesus. His criticism of the cessationist scribes applies equally to cessationists of today: John 5:37-47.
    After this, a series of heresies in the church, Montanism, Manicheism, Arianism, the Pseudo-Clementine tradition, all were cessationists–AGAINST the orthodox, mainline Christian position of the time: “the gift of prophecy is in all the church until the end [the "to teleion" of 1Cor 13]“.
    The extra-biblical term, “sign gifts” (prophecy, revelation) are not only not denied in the Bible, but *demanded* as the normative experience of the Christian who reads the Bible as his authoritative source for faith and practice.

    • says

      I might buy some of your view, but only if the direct communication is subject to Holy Scripture. Anything that seeks to be on the same level or even, God forbid, superior to Scripture, has presented some sordid anomalies and trials for the saints in history. I have seen so much of the rantings of some of the direct communication folks in my life time that it cured any tendencies, if I ever had any, to want to follow that approach. I don’t have any trouble with those visitations which are subservient to the written word of God. Anything to the contrary is kaput…in my book,

  5. John Harris says

    We can all agree the first Christian writers after the NT noted that the “sign gifts” did stop.

    • says

      Who said that and when. If I am going to have to agree to it I need a few more specifics. Since the Catholic Church made many of the early church Fathers saints and since to be made a saint at least one miracle needed to be proven, it does not sound like signs stopped at all.

  6. says

    For the most part I am a cessationist, but now and then I run into something that seems to indicate otherwhise, especially when it involves unreached groups, etc. I mean the recent episode over Pat Robertson and some of his reflections which reflect no honor to our Lord surely ought to raise questions in our hearts and minds. I have seen so many contradictions across my whole life that I certainly do not advocate such things, though I allow for some exceptions to the rules…as any one ought as our interpretations as to what God actually means by His words, our interpretations, I repeat, are not final, not like His. We have to be careful that we neither take from His word nor add to it, no easy feat in view of our tendency to haste and our demand for immediacy.

    • says

      I take it that one of your “exceptions to the rules” would be the claim of your own conversion from atheism by a “vision/hallucination”? How does your own experience fit within professed cessationist boundaries? On the surface, the two would seem to be at odds with one another.

      • says

        I never give it much thought. God does as He pleases. We can only seek understanding of what He is doing which He might or might not grant. For the most part, I am deeply suspicious of non-cessationism, but do grant it in a few instances (having no other answer or option). An Atheist, or at least this one, will let you know that God is not much given to explain all that He does or why He says what He does say. I know I had some pretty heavy questions for (why do children suffer…like I had as a child in being deprived of both parents, etc.?) God, but when He appeared I never even thought of those questions. Sort of like Job’s situation. He, too, had a lot of questions until the Lord showed up. Years later I dimly perceived how my situation and deprivation could serve higher purposes, but it was very limited. The Puritans with their works on Providence and the Lifting Up For the Downcast, to mention just two areas, seem to provide and supply the most satisfactory comments on such trials…though not always with the answers desired. One is left with the thought that the events serve a Higher Purpose than we can discern. I know 40 years ago this Oct.29, I had the greatest blessing of a call to a church, spoke with my mother that night, and the next morning had the greatest trial, namely, her death along with my half-sissters and step-father in a murder-suicide.

        I will say that the one thing that occurred about 2-3 weeks prior to that blessing and that trial was a visitation from the Lord one morning in our seminary apartment. I awoke and the Lord was there, invisible, but more truly and really present than if He had been standing there in the flesh. I cried tears of joy just like the night I was converted some 15 years earlier. The experience lasted for a solid half-hour, while I was getting ready to go attend class. Then during the week in St. Louis during the awful time of handling affairs and the funeral, there seem to be someone standing at my shoulder, (left shoulder), real, so real, I would turn to see who was standing there.

        Many verses came to mind during that week and there must have been thousands of people praying for us. What we experienced and endured was as nothing compared to our friend who was tortured by the Japanese during World War II for 8 hrs a day, seven days a week, for two months and 28 days. She would win the man to Christ who supervised her torture after the war. She was the lady who interpreted the pygmy tongue, explaining that the Great Spirit had told them to bring food (which they carried in baskets on their heads) to that starving guerilla army unit commanded by an American Captain. Mrs. Block is buried in the Marine Corps cemetery at Quantico, Va. She was a 2nd Lt. in the guerilla army. You can read some of her account in her book, The Price of Freedom. by Mamerta de los Reyes Block. 2005. We simply do not know either the Bible or our Lord enough to speak with too great a finality on many of the subjects that we do think we understand.

        • says

          “We simply do not know either the Bible or our Lord enough to speak with too great a finality on many of the subjects that we do think we understand.”–Wise and humble words, indeed, sir. I appreciate them. I will have to see if I can find the book you reference. Sounds interesting!

  7. Dwight McKissic says

    Dave and others,

    Why is it that the SBC will not adopt an official position on cessationism/continuationism? When a prospective church planter or an established church inquires about joining the SBC, how should we answer the question when they ask : what is the official or unofficial position of the SBC on the cessationist/continuationist matter?

    Thanks for addressing this issue.

    Dwight

      • Dwight McKissic says

        With so many different opinions how did cessationism become the governing/ruling opinion at the IMB and NAMB? I think I know the answer to that question. Having joined the SBC in 1983 where cessationist policies did not exist at these entities, I find it somewhat unsettling for the rules to change after the fact. I really believe the lack of clarity on this matter is hurting and retarding the growth of our convention. A decision needs to be made. Whatever decision is made will be in my judgement far greater than such an important theological matter left ill-defined, and at last will bring unity to the SBC on this matter; even if that means some of us will then have to find a new home. The SBC will be much better off if they come down on one side of this or the other. In a practical sense, the policies at the entities suggest they have come down on one side of this issue. As far as I am concerned , it is an integrity issue that the convention will not be definitive on this question.

        • Dave Miller says

          The SBC I grew up in was pretty much on the cessationist end of the spectrum. Anyone that spoke in tongues was likely to get run out of the church.

          It is an encouraging sign, in my opinion, that continuationism has grown in the last 30 years and a more biblical view of the Holy Spirit has gained ground in Baptist churches.

          • says

            Dave, I think Baptists have been mostly cessationist, but not always the brand to the far extreme. On the other hand, until the 20th century, apparently, those who believed in tongues either left voluntarily or were excluded. But I think this record of Morgan Edwards about Shubal Stearns gives some feel of Baptists who didn’t believe in tongues and such like nevertheless thought they got messages from God.

            “The time was Sep. 7, 1769 memorable for a great storm. As he was ascending a hill in his way home he observed in the horizon a white heap like snow; upon his drawing near he perceived the heap to stand suspended in the air 15 or 20 feet above ground. Presently it fell to the ground and divided itself into three parts; the greatest part moved northward; a less towards the south; and the third, which was less than either but much brighter, remained on the spot where the whole fell; as his eyes followed that which went northward, it vanished; he turned to look at the other, and found they also had disappeared. While the old man pondered what the phantom division, and motions of it meant this thought struck him, ‘The bright heap is our religious interest, which will divide and spread north and south, but chiefly northward; while a small part remains at Sandy-creek’.” (Morgan Edwards, “Materials Toward a History…”)

            So you see that Shubal Stearns saw a “vision” or interpreted a physical event he saw as a message from God with meaning.

          • Edmond Long says

            Given what Robert Vaughn shared about Shubal Stearns’ vision, I wonder what we do with Joseph Smith, who claimed God spoke to him?

          • says

            Like the joke that I heard in the 70s while a student at SEBTS. Seems a tongue talking lady showed up in a morning worship service at one of the staid run of the mill, dyed in the wool Southern Baptist churches in Greensboro. She popped up during the worship service and spoke in an unknown tongue. The pastor then stepped up and asked, if there was any one to interpret. None being forthcoming, he said, “I will interpret. What the dear lady said was that the Lord told her to give our church $5,000.” The woman screeched and ran out of the church. A bit of humor, I suspect, but a real reflection on the charismatic situation…as was the remark by a friend of mine, the husband of Mamerta de los Reyes Block, the Rev. Dr. Isaac Block. He had been raised an orthodox Jew and then was won to Christ by the winsomeness of his wife and children (one of the most hilarious descriptions I ever heard in his own words, “I felt such a burden that I got off the bus and stumbled to a grassy triangle there in the street in Washington, and as I fell forward I felt the burden lifted off of my heart. I hopped off, got to the side walk and went skipping down the sidewalk singing with joy (a skinny Jew as he said) at the top of my voice the only Christian songs I knew that I had learned from my children, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so,” and “The Bible.” In any case, we were talking about Demos Shekarin (sp?) who had advised folks seeking the gift of tongues without an answer to start saying, “La, La, La….” And my friend expressed his utter contempt for such idea and the whole tongue thing as a farce due to that attempt to inculcate such a gift.

        • Dave Miller says

          i don’t believe that the BF&M takes a position on this (which is a good thing, because it probably would have taken a cessationist position – at least back in 1963).

          The majority of Baptists at one time were cessationist. I don’t know what the percentages are now. But it is much more balanced.

          I think it is one of those areas of freedom. There is no doctrinal standard by which a continuationist can be excluded from service, except for those heinous IMB policies.

          • Dwight McKissic says

            Had the BF& M taken a cessationist position in 1963, those of us who have joined since then would have been able to evaluate if we were compatible with the SBC based on this factor. I agree: this should be an “area of freedom”. But isn’t it too late for that since the entity policies are in place. Continuationist are asked to support financially a policy & theology that we don’t believe in. This is a violation of freedom and taxation without representation. I agree again: the pendulum is swinging in the right direction. Therefore, the day will probably come when the heinous policies “cease”, and that’s when we will experience an “area of freedom”. I pray that I’m alive when that happens. We will see a change for the good in the SBC when that takes place.

          • Frank L. says

            “”””when the heinous policies “cease”””

            I doubt if this type of spiteful, incendiary rhetoric will bring about a sense of unity.
            A civil debate and peaceful revolution cannot be achieved by such “in your face” rhetoric, especially on an issue that is a secondary issue of faith.

            Even though I may agree in principle with someone’s theological view, I will likely react negatively to such strong language. I suspect there are others who feel the same way.

        • Frank L. says

          Dwight,

          That’s a very good question, but I’m not surprised by the fact.

          If “cessasionism” is a stubbornness to accept God’s sovereign rule to intervene and interact in any way in our lives, including supernatural ways, then it would seem a natural progression to tend toward cessationism.” I’m not even sure which spelling to use.

          God, Himself says, “My spirit will not always strive with God’s spirit.”

          Continuationism goes against the grain of man’s natural tendencies, especially in the modern era which provided the context for Baptists.

          I agree with Dave, I think it is healthy that we are gaining a more “open” dialogue on this matter.

          I don’t see any kind of resolution coming in the near future. I live through the Charismatic Wars of the 70’s, and I know how contentious this matter can be.

          Oddly, I came to the SBC from a charismatic experience, fought with cessasionists in the War or ’77, and have come full circle to believing God can and does act in ways that are above and beyond anything I could imagine.

  8. Dwight McKissic says

    The SBC not including a statement in the BF& M may or may not be good. However, wouldn’t a resolution affirming “freedom ” or cessationism, or continuationism at least provide critical information to church planters & churches who believe in the 2000 BF&M, but who are also continuationist–at least make a clear statement to them as to whether or not they are in harmony with the SBC on this issue?

  9. says

    Well, surprise, surprise. I just learned I am an extreme cessationist because I do not believe God is speaking to people today apart from Scripture. Nevermind the traditional orthodox view is revelation ceased when the canon was closed (when the final work of Scripture was written). Further, I have no problems with spiritual gifts, and think the whole argument about sign and miracle gifts is a waste of time.

    • says

      Edmund, read the second paragraph before you take umbrage.

      “In this debate, there are two extremes (I do not intend the word extreme here to be pejorative or to imply extremism; it just means the end of the continuum):”

      I made it clear that the use of the term was not meant to imply extremism, but to set the ends of the continuum. I actually tried to come up with another term, but couldn’t think of one.

      If, rather than complaining, you would like to suggest a better word to describe the position at the end of the spectrum, please do.

      • Edmond Long says

        I neither took umbrage nor complained. My reply was meant to be a little humorous. I argue ideas, not emotions or personalities. I might suggest you drop the cessation/continuation tags altogether. I have no suggestion for what might be used in their place. Seems to me the issue of God speaking directly and dynamically is unrelated to the gifts debate.

  10. Ron West says

    The BF&M may not have taken a postion on this but the trustees of the IMB have said that if you have spoken in tongues you cannot be appointed. I think the NAMB is the same. You also cannot be appointed if you have not been baptized in a Baptist church. There are qualifications added to that I do not remember. I do not know if there a connection to that thinking and cessationism or not.

    • Frank L. says

      Ron,

      You point to a fact that makes us rather unique as a denomination.

      Our trustees cannot make decisions contrary to the BF&M, but they can make policies that deal with issues beyond the BFM, but not specifically addressed by it.

      It creates a de facto position for the denomination, at least at the agency level.

      Autonomy and trusteeship are great ideas, but not wholly without their difficulties.

  11. Christiane says

    “No “word from the lord” can countermand, nullify or contradict scripture. On that we agree.
    But does God’s Spirit give us guidance where the Word does not?”

    Yes, in our quest for purpose, for joy, for meaning in our lives, yes . . .
    the Holy Spirit DOES respond to the aching of our hearts in this world.

    ‘No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.’ St. Paul tells us.
    It is the Holy Spirit Who gives us the POWER to submit ourselves completely to the Lord Christ as the Lord of Life, the ‘Dominus’ of our lives:

    The Holy Spirit gives us the strength to
    to think as Christ thought,
    to act as He acted,
    to desire as He desired,
    to pray as He prayed . . .

    “I hear from within me a stream of living water that murmurs:
    Come, Come to the Father.”
    (St. Ignatius)

    The Power of the Holy Spirit not only personally directs us to live in response to the Lord of Life in all of our ways;
    the Fire of the Holy Spirit conveys to us the power to do it.
    So, without the Holy Spirit, no man may call Christ ‘Dominus’.

  12. says

    I had forgotten the illustration of Shubal Stearns’ experience concerning Sandy Creek Assn. as related by Morgan Edwards. The unusual and remarkable experiences were a part of the process of a profession of faith as it was understood in those days, and such experiences could have long and lasting effects. Even conversions in extreme childhood as in the case of Phoebe Bartlett, who experienced a rather dramatic conversion around the age of 4 years, one related in the writings of Jonathan Edwards (I think it was in his Narrative of Surprising Conversions). Ms. Bartlett would continue in her profession of faith all the days of her life (I think she was in her 80s when she died), and her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren evidently had somewhat similar experiences. I came across some Sunday School materials from the 1880s in which the Grand daughter and great grand daughter of Phoebe related their conversions at a Sunday School Convention, indicative of the persistence of such visitations among the people of God. I should point out here that Phoebe’s conversion was back in the period circa 1730s-40s. It might also be noted that there were some cases (primarily in England and Europe, so I understand) where tongues were attempted. The effort to introduce such things into evangelical circles in England were met with a resolute resistance on the part of the Methodists of both the Calvinistic and the Arminian persuasion, from all that I can remember of my readings in the matter. Even in America the tongue talking did not get started until really around 1900 and Azusa Street Meetings. Interestingly enough, I came across something on the internet several years ago which provided information indicating that Evan Roberts, the leader in the Welsh Revival of 1904, ended his labors rather than have them be mixed up with the Azusa Street approach, something he readily seemed to reject.

    • Frank L. says

      “”””The effort to introduce such things into evangelical circles in England were met with a resolute resistance on the part of the Methodists of both the Calvinistic and the Arminian persuasion””””

      And this proves . . . what? Men have been “resisting” the move of God since say, well, the Garden of Eden.

      Does a dry spell prove that rain is unnecessary?

      • says

        Yup! But there are also demonic deceptions in these matters. Some of those from Indonesia in particular were noted for such. God ain’t limited by deceptions, but He also has His own agenda…and not the free, wide open, wheeling dealing stuff of a lot of the charismatics. I can count on the fingers of one hand and not use all of my fingers of those instances that that I might grant God was involved…and most of the feel good, seemingly so spiritual turned out to be phoney baloney. Besides, God seems to like and prefer the rational way, first and foremost.

        • Frank L. says

          I agree there are demonic demonstrations (counterfeits) to spiritual gifts.

          It’s amazing we give the Devil almost unlimited access to humanity, but God has to be confined to “the rational way.”

          That is a very “Baptist” perspective, but nothing like the Bible I read everyday. Just when I think by reason I can figure God out, He moves and I go scrambling to catch up.

          I come from an early background in science–where one would think reason reigns supreme (which it does in modern versions of it). However, what drew me to study the cosmos was not how “reasonable” it is, but how incomprehensible.

          I’m not going to allow my life to be determined by the Devil’s counterfeits. I’m not going to allow false spiritual manifestations, or even outright fraud, keep me from experiencing the True and Wonderful Lord.

          I don’t stop eating because someone else got food poisoning. I just avoid that restaurant.

          • says

            The idea that reason can explain supra-rational existence and thought and reason is ridiculous. My field of study has been, for many years, intellectualism, and, while God approaches man directly through the mind, there is no such thing as fully comprehending or explaining Him and His ways. (Isa.55;11). just consider how a revealed truth consists of two parts, two ideas apparently contradictory which cannot be reconciled and were not meant to be reconciled. In fact, they serve a purpose, namely, to set up a tension in the human mind which enables the believer to be realistic and idealistic, objective and subjective. The fact that God does approach through the mind (remember the first requirement is repentance (a change of mind based upon reflecting and thinking upon things (sin) as God thinks upon them) and turning of the life is the end result of the thinking process). Visions rational (Rev.3;20) are complementary with visions supernal, the supernatural and the word go together. In the end, irrationalism really is reducto absurdum. Even chaos is not know through fractals to have an order to it. What God does by His rational approach is to invite man to think outside the box, and by His supernal approach He unites reason and the supernatural in a way to gain man’s profoundest reverence and respect, the prelude to a truly deepening relationship. My outline for Rev.3;20 & Acts 16;14 is: I. The Light of Interest. A. Visions rational. B. Visions supernal. :Behold, I stand at the door and knock. My voice.” II. The Level of Intimacy. “I will come into him & will sup with him and he with me.” Awesome Intimacy (John’s head resting on Jesus bosom at the last Supper) and Avoidance. Not the familiarity that breeds contempt. III. The Labor of Intrigue, “Hears my voice and opens the door.” The impossible is what our Lord asks.(Mk.10 cf the rich young ruler and the Lord’s remark to Peter) and in the light of Rev.3:17, there is reluctance and inability to respond.(wretched, miserable, poor, blind, naked).Being asked to do the impossible…dream the impossible dream. IV. The Logic of Infinity. “If…I will.” “Whose heart the Lord opened.” Therapeutic paradox idea. The impossible demand enables the helpless to respond. Sovereignty presses down on the brow of man, the crown of responsibility. Inescapable power, drawing, wonderful beyond words, beauty, joy, and help beyond imagination, an attraction utterly overwhelming.

          • Christiane says

            “The idea that reason can explain supra-rational existence and thought and reason is ridiculous.”

            I suspect that God gave mankind ‘reason’ so that they would seek Him, having used their logic to sort out that He existed.
            There is the classic argument of St. Thomas Aquinas for knowing the existence of God . . . I do not know if Southern Baptists accept St. Thomas’ ‘Summa Theologica’ or not, but it is a classic teaching of Western Christianity, so I do believe that Southern Baptists who study theology are familiar with it.

            As far as comprehending everything about God . . . we cannot.
            The closest we come is the Person of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, the fullest revelation of God we have been given. The sacred Scriptures give testimony of Him. The four Holy Gospels tell of His Words and His actions while He was among us. The clearest image we have been given about God is what we know of Him revealed to us through Christ the Lord.

            We also know that the natural world points towards the Creator.

            Breadcrumbs . . . . :)

  13. Christiane says

    “22 . . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance:
    against such there is no law.
    (from Gal. 5)

    satan is drawn to human pride, which he uses against us in the worst ways

    . . . but the things of the Holy Spirit are NOT something that lead us into sin, no

    the humble people of the earth are blessed in a special way by a God-given grace . . . and satan has no power over them

    BTW, God is the God of what is seen and what is unseen . . . I would not count Him out as the ruler of the supernatural world, the world beyond this earth, which He also has created

  14. Wade says

    As Baptists… we pride ourselves (in the good way) as being a people of the Book, a high view of Scripture. Creating cessationist policy, as NAMB and IMB trustees have done, because there have been fleshy abuses or demonic imitations is not the answer. The answer is to trust Scripture in how to deal with abuses, not make policy that if someone prays in tongues they are therefore eliminated from consideration for missionary appointment.

    • Frank L. says

      I agree. We cannot let a abusers of truth drive the agenda.

      We need to allow for freedom and deal with the problems this may cause.

      That is much more challenging but ultimately more fruitful.

  15. M.O.E. says

    Here is a little different thought, I was wondering what you thought about it.
    About twenty five years ago, when I lived back in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, my home was nestled on the side of a mountain surrounded by the forest.

    I remember it was about this time of the year, the leaves were on the ground, and all was well except for a little wind. During the night, while my family and I were asleep something caused a fire in the forest. During the night the fire spread. When I awakened the next morning my home was in jeopardy of being destroyed by fire. The fire was so close to my home that burned leaf ashes were on my porch. It was to late for me to try to fight the fire.

    All hope was gone, as I stood there looking at the fire, looking at my home and family, tears began flowing down my cheeks, I looked toward Heaven and the smoke filled sky, and began to pray. My prayer went something like this, Dear God, you know this is all I have, would you please spare my home. As soon as my prayer ended, it began to rain and rain hard. I thought this was one of the prettiest sights I had ever seen. Ten minutes after the rain started there was no fire.

    I know some people would say that it was probably going to rain anyway, but I had not seen the weather forecast. I did see God answering my prayer.

    My question is this, Does what happened make me a fire fighter? Does this make me a miracle worker? Do I have the Gift of rain?
    My answer is–of course not.

    Don’t you think that God might perform miracles for his children for his glory and our benefit. In our private lives, to strengthen our faith. It just seems to me if Gifts filled the church there would be abuse, my gift is better than yours, no mine is better.

    Your thoughts, please

    • Frank L. says

      The rain came as part of God’s sovereign care of his creation. So just thank Him for miracle or not.

      By the way can you prove it was going to rain anyway If you don’t believe prayer changes things then you are a fool for praying

  16. M.O.E. says

    The closest I have ever come to a private prayer language was when I hit my thumb with a twenty two ounce hammer. I don’t know what all I said but I could not interrupt it.

  17. M.O.E. says

    Frank L.
    I hope you didn’t misunderstand what I was saying. I didn’t say prayer
    don’t change things, although sometimes it doesn’t. What ever happens
    even if God doesn’t answer our prayer it will be for our benefit.

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