Why I’m a Cessationist ( yes it’s longish for a post )

So what people would you say outline the best exegetical case for and against it?

I’ve never met any charismatic Christian claiming to be able to perform signs and wonders. I know there are some out there and I agree they are off and often are charlatans. But cessationists like John MacArthur are not just referring to people claiming to be able to do miracles when they claim the Spirit does not empower charismatic gifts today, they are referring to non-miraculous things like speaking in tongues and receiving spiritual revelation from God through his Spirit.

I Corinthians 13:1
Paul in 1 Corinthians 14 describes speaking in tongues as an unintelligible language no one understands.

1 Earnestly pursue love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. 2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 3 But he who prophesies speaks to men for their edification, encouragement, and comfort. 4 The one who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but the one who prophesies edifies the church.

5 I wish that all of you could speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets so that the church may be edified.

6 Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 7 Even in the case of lifeless instruments, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone recognize the tune they are playing unless the notes are distinct? 8 Again, if the trumpet sounds a muffled call, who will prepare for battle? 9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.

It is only in Acts 2 at Pentecost that speaking in tongues is associated with miraculous preaching of the gospel in human languages.

Again, 500 million Christians have experiences with the Holy Spirit and charismatic gifts that are different than yours. Their testimony shouldn’t be written off as 100% mistakes, errors, and delusions.

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It seems you are thinking of a gift that allows anyone get immediately healed after a prayer. I have not heard of or seen anyone with such a gift. In this we agree.

I do not know if anyone has had such a gift after the resurrection of Jesus. Most likely not even the apostles sent by Jesus himself. There have been cases where all were healed, for example when Paul was in Malta (Acts 28). The letters of Paul reveal that this did not happen everywhere. For example, Paul left Trophimus sick at Miletus (2 Timothy 4:20).

Picking up venomous snakes or drinking poison is not something anyone should do. If someone does it just to show that they can do it, it would be wrong kind of testing God. When Devil tempted Jesus to do a comparable act, Jesus refused (Luke 4:12).
Not doing it deliberately does not exclude the occasional cases where believers were bitten by a snake and did not get any damage. I have myself been bitten by a snake and was healed immediately through a prayer of faith. The snake was not deadly, just a common European adder (Vipera berus), so I don’t know if that case can be counted as a venomous snake. Anyhow, the symptoms (rapidly expanding swelling in the hand) disappeared immediately after the prayer.

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I have been in meetings where people were experiencing the so called ‘Toronto blessing’. My impression was that at least the majority of strange behavior in these meetings was emotional reaction to what was happening. When people were suddenly relieved of internal mental problems, wounds or stress, they reacted in individual ways to what happened. Someone started to weep, another started to praise, some dropped to ground and later told that it was like falling into a soft cotton bed. Looked weird but many got liberated from internal wounds and stress. I did not agree with everything being told but I have to conclude that the fruit was mostly good as many people got a better life in those meetings.

As a young believer, I saw strange behavior in a meeting. A man was shaking and rolling in the ground. An old preacher told me that kind of things may happen when someone gets in an internal conflict situation, when the Holy Spirit is present strongly and something in the person is fighting against the effect of the Holy Spirit. Maybe it was an internal motivation or wish that was against the will of the Lord, I do not know but it seemed to be causing an internal struggle that was emotionally strong. I do not believe that the Holy Spirit made the person roll in the ground, it was something emotional happening in the man himself.

Nothing there is saying they are speaking in angelic tongues. It’s saying with someone there able to interpret the language, it’s not beneficial. If someone was given the tongue of Spanish in a church with no one who speaks Spanish it’s not beneficial.

When it’s not something found in scripture and when it’s not something they can do to prove it’s not something that holds any weight. The gifts were given to establish a church. It was something that proved itself to
Unbelievers leading them to see what is spoken to be true. It’s something given to the apostles to help them have authority to preach the gospel to the world.

And as for what then other person was saying.

Yes it’s instantly and that’s what was happening with the apostles. They were instantly preforming these miracles back to back. Even Peter’s shadow going over people was healing them. This is the reason why it’s impersonating to correctly label the stuff. People are confusing prayer with the power of the spirit through the laying on of the apostles hands.

What we see in the scriptures is just this.

  1. People speaking in tongues of known languages that they don’t understand. We never see a angelic language being spoken once. If there was no interpretation, then it was not beneficial because no one could interpret it for the rest to understand because no one spoke that language. That would be like me speaking in tongues Spanish in a congregation where everyone only knows English.

  2. Secret wisdom was people being given knowledge on how to guide the church before we had everything given to us as scriptire from God. Before the last scripture was given , whatever it was , people would have to rely on those with divine knowledge to teach them. Knes in part before knowing in full.

  3. We see people possessed by supernatural evil entities that could even break chains get instantly cast out. Millions of people claim to know someone possessed by demons too. Does not make it true. It’s why the Vatican msotly stopped torturing people with mental disorders with made up rituals like holy water.

  4. We read of them being bitten and not affected by venomous snakes like what happened with Paul. Or able to drink poison and be unaffected.

  5. They rose the dead. They placed their hands on corpses and rose them back to life.

  6. They healed people instantly , even with their shadow or handkerchief. Crippled people were standing up.

The miracles were witnessed by everyone around. The miracles were so powerful it convinced unbelievers that the apostles were speaking with the authority of Yahweh.

That’s why they were told to remain in Jerusalem until the power fell on them and it’s why Simon in acts 8 wanted to purchase that power and why Philip the evangelist could not pass it on. Ut preform miracles only.

No one , not even in their world villages , or in Toronto and none of those 500 million people throughout the world can do any of those things in a way dismissing doubt. It’s what made Christianity go from a dozen or so people to thousands across the known world in less than a century despite being rejected by general society and persecuted by the Roman Empire.

Whatever was normative for the Apostolic Era hasn’t been since. It ceased. With them. Or perhaps it didn’t. Ecstatic utterance (the bad fakes are obvious, good fakes are dangerous, because you can’t keep faking it; it takes you over), prophecy in the sense of telling forth, not foretelling, are normative in all cultures where there are raves, shamans, APES events. All that you experienced above is easily, simply and fully explicable naturally. It’s like atheism. There’s no need to go there. To the precursor. You even couch your experience in mainly objective terms. Because you are honest. As did Paul. Who never prophesied in the sense of foretelling. The last sentence of your first paragraph is on the cusp of poeticized nature. I have had instant relief of chronic acute pain from chiropractic, the theory of which is still codswallop. The most excruciating pain of my 67 years had no physical cause whatsoever. Just psychological stress. Not fraud. My mind healed itself by itself. And we’re very good at reading each other. Dogs are. It’s not fraud. None of my years of personal experience of the ‘charismatic’, at first welcome, beguiled (I got the laughter, it makes me smile 25 years later, which is scary! It was superbly cathartic, positive, approving. I mean driving all the way home with the family, across half the county, not just at the church) then challenged - not by me, but by my long term fellowship, in a perfectly rational manner - now regarded as all entirely natural, involved anyone being knowingly fraudulent. It involved cold reading, Altered states of perception, Peer pressure, enhanced Expectation and susceptibility/Suggestibility. A quarter of Christendom aren’t engaged in fraud. That’s a straw man. But invoking their number is doubly fallacious.

If the police had to get involved in the Carla case, they would very quickly establish how the woman knew.

You remind me of Lyall Watson @Christy. He experienced many, many things. But finally realised Dasein probably explained it all.

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You forget that realizing it is an infinite task.

The old preacher was not exactly charitable, was he? Somebody else could have chalked it up to demon possession. Or emotional instability.

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I have noted that as preachers get old (>80), they often start to say their opinions in a more straight way. Not all but many. The same is true for many other old believers. Maybe they feel that there is not anymore a need to pretend. They know they will die in the near future, which gives liberty and maybe also an attitude of ‘no more nonsense’.

I do not know if this is a peculiarity of our culture that allows and appreciates honesty even when all people don’t like it. That may be considered a weakness in our culture but for some reason, international comparisons claim that our citizens are the happiest people on earth. I don’t fully understand why but honesty does not seem to make people unhappy.

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No he had.1

More than charitable, thinking magically, given that the guy was having a self-induced fit.

Actually, many elderly people tend to just say what’s on their mind with no inhibitions! Just like two-year-olds. It can be embarrassing.

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I’m wanted to go more into the prayer aspect as well. While there are cessationist they reject any intervention on the behalf of the supernatural i don’t believe it makes up the bulk of them. It definitely does not make up the bulk of the denomination I belong to, Church of Christ. The CoC as a whole seems to be cessationist. We all still believe in the power of prayer and thst miracles exist. Just not the miracles described as the power of the Holy Spirit through the laying on hands. I believe that Yahweh is very active in our lives. That the holy spirit comforts us when we are struggling and that the Holy Spirit can even bring to mind scriptures and helps us be better people.
I believe that then someone is sick the congregation should come together and pray for them. We can pray for our loved ones and ect…

As mentioned a few times Christ had intervened in my life I’m a way that was very important to me and I cling to those memories when struggling. When I started reading the Bible and wanting to be a Christian and change into a better person I prayed to God to send some people my way. I was quite specific too. Guys my age who knew more than me about the Bible that I could workout with too. I prayed it and then went to subway and a guy was handing out a Bible to a homeless person and I felt my prayer was answered but felt to dumb and did not say anything and went back home ashamed and told my then wife what happened and she knew my prayer and said I just spat on gods answer basically. So I mustered up courage and went back to subway only to find out the guy already left and on top of that it was his last day. So I felt defeated and went back home. The very next day I went to a Starbucks and went inside and a group of men was talking about the Bible. I knew God answered my prayer again and as I was waiting to get my coffee and thinking of how to approach them people at other tables begin to yell at them for being Christians and telling them to shut up and someone even threw a coffee at them. So I lost courage and was leaving and ad I was literally halfway out the door I heard running coming towards me yelling “ hey hey hey “ and turned around to notice it was the guy from subway. He then told me that when he saw me a second time he knew for sure God wanted him to speak to me that the day before even felt he should have at subway but felt weird about it and so he said nktjing. I explained to him me too and we sat down at the table with the others and studied the Bible and talked. It’s too much of a coincidence for me to sctuslly think it was just random chance. I believe somehow God intervened.

The other time was similar. I left and was in the army. My wife recently left and said she wanted a divorce. This was years after the first event. At this point I basically had stopped going to church. Stopped doing anything but work and home. I stopped sharing the gospel with strangers. I was putting a sheet over my lamp and prayed to god to give me the desire to get back in a local congregation and be active in my faith again. I then went for a walk and while walking I came across a black guy named Domartini from Haiti sitting at a table talking to a white dude and as I came up I heard one of my favorite verses being quoted “ repent and be baptized “ from acts 2:38. So I stopped and went over and sat down and Domartini looked at me and said hey what’s up and I said I was just listening to you talk about baptism and he said yeah as a Christian it’s his duty to share the gospel and that’s what he was doing. Then he asked if I went to church and I said no not lately and he said that he went to the local Church of Christ, same
Denomination as me and same denomination as the disciples who shared their faith with me in Starbucks year earlier.

So I believe God answers prayers and miracles happen. That he helped design those meetings somehow. So while I think the other miracles ceased I believe many others still happen.

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An interesting discussion. I always thought of cessationism as a belief that not only had the spiritual gifts ceased after the end of the Acts of the Apostles, but that anything that purported to be spiritual gifts (healing, prophecy, speaking in tongues, words of knowledge, etc) down through the ages since should, by definition, be considered to be counterfeit, period, end of story, no exceptions, no excuses. @SkovandOfMitaze it sounds like your view is a bit more nuanced than that, am I correct?

For my own part, I’ve been involved in the Charismatic movement and Charismatic churches for pretty much my entire life. I will admit that there’s quite a lot of flakiness that goes on in many Charismatic circles – there is often a lot of passion and hype and very little in the way of discernment and critical thinking, and don’t get me started on prosperity preachers with private jets or the numerous political pseudo-prophecies that we’ve all been subjected to – but at the same time, I don’t think we can write off everything that flies under the banner of spiritual gifts altogether. Personally I’ve had my share of disappointments and unanswered prayers, but some of the answers to prayer that I have seen have been pretty spectacular.

I’ve always thought that the Biblical basis for cessationism seemed pretty weak at best. 1 Corinthians 13 does say that prophecies will cease, tongues will be stilled and knowledge will pass away, but the Bible doesn’t seem to be all that clear about when prophecies will cease, tongues will be stilled and knowledge will pass away. It always seemed to me that attempting to tie it down to any particular point in Church history, such as the completion of Scripture, the establishment of the Church, or the end of the Acts of the Apostles, seemed to be more a case of reading that particular position into various isolated Bible verses rather than going by anything that the Bible states explicitly.

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I respect the right of everybody to worship however they like. But remember that the Charismatic movement is a relatively recent phenomenon.

Except for once out of thousands of people over a decade , branching multiple denominations, I’ve only met one person who believes cessationism is the end of all supernatural events. I think they are the ones using it wrong and I would have to see them line out their biblical argument as to why they include the other parts.

I’ve always found the cessationist argument as not weak at all. I find it so strong I don’t even pretend that there is another even remotely close argument which is why I figure 99% of the counter arguments are personal experiences and most of those experiences are not even one of the things I lined out.

But take prophecy and wisdom. What are the examples of prophecy and wisdom in the Bible? Always seemed like it was tied to the entire movement or a significant part of it. I don’t see enough evidence to think that prophecy was these small fortune telling like events. I also spent the majors of my life accepting and believing in spiritual gifts existing and seeing churches full of “ these powers “ being performed. As stated, I was dragged to Benny Hinn convictions, tent revivals with “ resurrections “ of dead people brought in pick up trucks and speaking squealing and howling in the tongues of angels.

So I always ask?

Why was the powers given?
Why does it repeatedly say that apostles had to show up and lay on hands?
Are we waiting for new scripture from God now?
Why don’t we see these events happening beyond doubt just like the apostles did?

But ecstatic, somewhat weird, spiritual experiences are not. Ever read Teresa of Avila?

I agree with @jammycakes that there are some kooky and problematic things done in the name of charismatic worship and that certain streams are flat out grifting. But I don’t feel threatened by the fact that Pentecostal/Charismatic expressions of Christianity are the most influential and fastest growing forms of Christianity in many parts of the world right now. I don’t think we need to prove they are legit on the one hand or explain away their experiences on the other. I am keenly aware that my preferred epistemologies and ways of processing my experiences are white, Western, and shaped by the modern scientific world and its constructs. Lots of the world’s cultures have more holistic, spiritually integrated approaches to perceiving reality and interacting with the world and I think it’s colonial and paternalistic to impose my constructs on their experiences with God and the world. Their testimony is their testimony. We shouldn’t have to validate or test or judge or explain everyone else’s encounters with God in order to feel secure in our own beliefs and relationship with God.

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Well I was taught by a a Russian, two Africans, a Haitian and a guy from Hong Kong about cessationism. It helps to find a disperse group of people when studying something. If I just stuck with white Americans I would probably think those things still existed. But as someone with friends and acquaintances from mostly non white nations I am lucky enough to have came across cessationism. It’s why I’m also able to state why I believe what I believe and why I’m able to challenge others and see if they can prove their magic.

Know who I hear taking about white privilege the most? Liberal whites women who learned about their middle class privilege in college by their white professors. They seem to be the ones that want to label everything as white empowerment. They pull out this white guilt card every time they can’t defend a position and act like it’s the other people who are trying to feel secure about something.

So when discussing a theological issue what helps is using theology. Unfortunately just saying white privilege and saying “ we don’t need to validate their experiences when it’s then experiences being questioned is illogical. It’s not a argument to say, “ I think people can speak in the langurs of angels and if someone whose not white experiences it then we can’t question it”. It’s almost border like racist to presume non White people can’t defend their positions and then best they can do is tell us their experiences.

What’s the point of trying to pretend to harmonize religion and science when the science and religious texts are being tossed out the window on a doctrinal discussion.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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