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Holy Hangout: Cessationism
Mine and Zane Welton’s Google Hangout session on Biblical discernment and the differences between charismatic Christianity and new age was pretty popular, and so last Friday we did a new hangout on cessationism, the idea that miraculous Spiritual gifts ceased with the apostles. Cessationism didn’t exist throughout most of church history, but was invented by Jean Calvin and Martin Luther in the 16th century when they wanted to explain why they didn’t experience any miracles.
In the Hangout cession, we were joined by former Vineyard pastor Joshua Hopping, discuss what cessationism is, its problems and how we can introduce our cessationist brothers and sisters to a glorious, miraculous life with the Holy Spirit. Hope you enjoy it!
If you would like to join a future Holy Hangout to discuss a topic relating to Spiritual gifts, evangelism or peace and justice, feel free to contact me!
The Top 5 Popular Posts on Holy Spirit Activism in 2014
As always, the WordPress “stats monkeys” has produced a summary of the past blog year that you can find here. I thank God that the blog is growing and pray that He will lead me and others to inspire more and more people to become radical, charismatic Jesus hippies, combining miracles with evangelism and activism.
Here’s the top five viewed posts during 2014:
1. The Kundalini Myth. This post was actually written in 2013, but people keeps finding it on Google, and it’s the most commented post on this blog as well as the most viewed one. Many Christians believe in Andrew Strom’s claim that large parts of the charismatic movement are influenced by the Hindu kundalini sect, but thankfully many are also questioning this ridiculous claim, and I hope that my blog post has convinced some that Strom’s Kundalini warning is a myth.
2. Compelled by Love Movie Review. This amazing documentary on the lives of Heidi and Rolland Baker and their ministry Iris Global was released in January, and although the audience may be somewhat limited thousands have found my movie review through Google. Maybe I should do some reviews more often? 🙂
3. Pope Francis: “The Charismatic Movement is Necessary”. I’ve written about Francis a couple of times, and even though I don’t agree with Catholic doctrine on several spots I think his passion for evangelism, poverty reduction, peacemaking and Spiritual gifts is absolutely awesome, since I’m also passionate about evangelism, poverty reduction, peacemaking and Spiritual gifts. In this post I highlighted his positive words about the charismatic movement in his famous meeting with journalists on the pope plane from Rio back to Rome, and the post sparked some controversy but also excitement. (more…)
Why Do I Call Myself a Jesus “Hippie”?
Hippies aren’t always popular among evangelical Christians. Mark Driscoll has famously said: “Some emergent types want to recast Jesus as a limp-wrist hippie in a dress with a lot of product in His hair, who drank decaf and made pithy zen statements about life while shopping for the perfect pair of shoes. […] I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.” I do agree that Jesus wouldn’t shop shoes or be a Buddhist, but He surely would be able to beat up. In fact, that’s what they actually did with Him on Easter.
The hippie movement emerged in the 60’s and 70’s in the United States and spread quickly to Europe and other parts of the world. It was a youth movement with international influences that emphasized love, peace and understanding, freedom and environmentalism, music, sex and drugs. It was influenced by eastern religions and sparked both new age occultism and the sexual revolution. These latter bits make it understandable why Dricoll doesn’t like hippies very much.
However, in the early 70’s thousands of hippies were saved in what is simply called the Jesus Movement, or the Jesus People Revival. They protested against both drugs and occultism, saying that we should “get high on Jesus” and be baptized in the Holy Spirit instead, but they preserved the hippie passion for peace, justice and a simple lifestyle. Over 100 000 Jesus hippies lived together in communal houses, they were preaching the Gospel in the streets and on the beaches, and many miracles happened as they prayed for the sick and prophesied.
The Top Seven Strange “Strange Fire” Statements
As I’ve written before, evangelical pastor John MacArthur has recently organized a conference called “Strange Fire” and will publish a book by the same name, where he argues that the majority of the charismatic movement is a crazy, heretic, demonic mess. As I’ve gone through what MacArthur said at the conference I’ve realized that the event really lives up to its name. Here are the top seven strange Strange Fire statements!
- The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in John MacArthur’s Opening Address (marccortez.com)
- Not All Charismatics Bark Like Dogs (sacredprofane.wordpress.com)
- ‘Strange Fire’ Conference: Oh, MacArthur… (amyhopefrancis.com)
- John MacArthur’s #StrangeFire And Arlene Sanchez Walsh’s Latino Pentecostal Identity (politicaljesus.com)
A Response to Tom Pennington’s Seven Cessationist Arguments
While the strange Strange Fire conference mostly was dedicated to accuse the majority of charismatics for being weird, heretic non-Christians (yes, John MacArthur did say that most of us are non-Christians), at least one session was about the root cause of these people’s uncomfortability with the charismatic movement: their cessationist belief. I gave a short summary of why I think cessationism is unbiblical in my previous post, but I felt that the cessationist arguments given at Strange Fire were so bad that I cannot let them pass unanswered. The session was held by Tom Pennington and here are a short summary and a longer transcription of his lecture.
Before Pennington even starts to give his seven “biblical” arguments for cessationism, he admits that “the New Testament nowhere directly states that the miraculous gifts will cease during the church age.” Amen to that. But then he simply states that this is irrelevant “because the New Testament doesn’t directly say they’ll continue either.”
Wow, now I feel tempted to produce my own gospel. I don’t like to pray very much, so I’ll just preach that we don’t have to pray in the post-apostolic age. And if someone would say to me “The Bible actually never says that we should cease to pray” I will simply answer “it doesn’t directly say we should continue praying either.”
For a Bible-believing Christian who thinks that we should base our lives on the life and teaching of Christ, the burden of proof lies on the cessationist, not on the continuationist. Jesus commanded his disciples to heal the sick and cast out demons (Mt 10:6-8), and then he ordered them after His miraculous resurrection to teach their disciples everything He had commanded them (Mt 28:20). It’s Tom Pennington’s job to prove that we should not do the stuff that Jesus and His disciples did, the burden of proof does not lie on the charismatics.
All right, here are Pennington’s arguments:
1) “There were only 3 primary periods in which God worked miracles through unique men. The first was with Moses; the second was during the ministries of Elijah and Elisha; the third was with Christ and his apostles. The primary purpose of miracles were to establish the credibility of one who speaks the word of God—not just any teacher, but those who had been given direct words by God.”
I thought people didn’t believe in the “three miraculous periods” stuff anymore. The book of Judges is filled with miracles and prophecies. The book of Daniel as well. Genesis, Isaiah, Jonah – they all account for amazing miracles. And the whole Bible is per definition filled with the gift of prophecy!
Why Cessationism is Unbiblical, Irrational and Boring
John MacArthur is one of the leading cessationist theologians of today (cessationist meaning someone who thinks the miraculous gifts of the Spirit have ceased), and you may remember his name from my post What if Jesus Preached what Modern Preachers are Preaching where I tried to show how stupid it would look if Jesus had said what MacArthur is saying. MacArthur’s teaching has been widely criticized by many, and one of the best rebutals is in my opinion Jack Deere’s Surprised by the Power of the Spirit, where he explains how he went from being a cessationist to a charismatic evangelical and where he basically brings up all cessationist arguments used by MacArthur and crushes them to little tiny pieces.
It seems like MacArthur has changed tactics since then. Right now he is organizing a conference called Strange Fire which isn’t arguing for cessationism so much as it is accusing the majority of the charismatic movement to be heretic, demonic and a dangerous cult. Nothing new, already G. Campbell Morgan said that Pentecostalism is “the last vomit of Satan”, so MacArthur is basically continuing an embarassing evangelical tradition of demonizing Christians who don’t agree with him.
MacArthur’s argument is of course ridiculous and its main accusation, that most charismatics offer false worship, is non-valid since even if you disagree with charismatics you have to admit that their worship to Jesus is extremely passionate compared to many other churches. But I’m not going to waste ink on arguing for the sanity of the charismatic movement but bring the discussion back to its original issue: the cessation or continuity of the gifts. In my opinion, it is cessationism that is truly “strange”, it’s an unbiblical, irrational and, quite frankly, very boring theology.
Cessationists do not argue that all gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased with the apostles, simply because knowledge, compassion and faith (Rom 12:8, 1 Cor 12:8-9) clearly are still around. Instead, they argue that the supernatural gifts of the Spirit have ceased while non-supernatural (like the ones I just mentioned) are still here. Problem is: this distinction is totally unbiblical. When Paul talks about Spiritual gifts he never categorised them in supernatural and non-supernatural, and he doesn’t label some cessational and others continual.