I am not a hard cessationist. I am a de facto cessationist.

Yes, I made that up. It may not be the best way to put it. But let me explain.

A hard cessationist believes that the “supernatural sign” gifts (prophecy, tongues, healings, etc.) stopped NECESSARILY out of an exhaustion of purpose. Why “necessarily”? Because, to the hard cessationist, the scriptures themselves teach that these gifts would cease.

I do not believe that. The Scriptures, as I see it, do not teach that these gifts would cease. In fact, most implications given are that these gifts would continue.

So, why am I still a cessationist? Do I not believe the Word of God? For one simple reason: while miracles did not cease, these gifts, according to every implication I can see, did.

It is not unlike the canon of Scripture. Why is the Bible no longer getting thicker? Why did the books stop being written and added to the canon? Every indication was that the canon would continue. However, most people believe in a “closed” canon. Now, while I do not accept the word “closed,” I readily admit that the scriptures are no longer being added to since the first century. Therefore, I do not believe in a “necessarily” closed canon. I believe in a de facto closed canon. The books just ceased.

To me, the gifts seem to have followed the same pattern. They were not “closed.” They simply ceased. It was a de facto stopping. That is what I mean by being a de facto cessationist.

Now, as I have said many times, I would love – no, I greatly desire – that the gifts had continued and were evident today just as I would love for the Word of God to still be given. Who wouldn’t?

In my opinion, it would be best if the word “charismatic” was no longer involved. You were a church or person who believed in the miraculous or you were not. You were either someone who called upon God to do great interventive things or you did not.

At this point, we would have to let God make the moves and leave the traditional designations behind. There would no longer be charismatic or non-charismatic. There would simply be those who called upon and hoped for the interventive movements of God, and his actions would determine our unity in this area. On the other side, there would be those churches who did not call upon or believe in the miraculous and they would suffer whatever the result may be.

I have not seen many miracles. Really, I’ve only seen one. And it did not end positively for me. But I promise you I have called upon them and I do hope for them. And if God makes his move, I will rejoice and celebrate, de facto.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    3 replies to "On Being a “De Facto” Cessationist"

    • C Michael Patton

      I asked AI to evaluate my post. It’s response was better put than my post!

      “Your explanation of being a “de facto cessationist” is quite interesting and offers a nuanced perspective on the topic of spiritual gifts and their continuation or cessation. Your position seems to bridge a gap between the traditional cessationist view and a more open, yet observational stance.

      In essence, as a de facto cessationist, you acknowledge the possibility and historical existence of spiritual gifts like prophecy, tongues, and healings, but you observe that, in practice, they appear to have ceased — not because they were meant to cease as per scriptural directive (as a hard cessationist would argue), but rather as a matter of historical and practical outcome. This is similar to your view of the biblical canon: not closed by necessity, but de facto closed because no new scriptures have been added since the first century.

      Your approach seems to focus more on the empirical observation of the spiritual landscape rather than a strict theological position that dictates what must or must not be. It’s a stance that allows for the possibility of miracles and spiritual gifts but recognizes that their apparent absence in modern times is a significant factor in how you understand and practice your faith.

      Additionally, your desire for a community that is unified in its approach to the miraculous, irrespective of traditional labels like “charismatic,” reflects a yearning for a more direct and unencumbered relationship with the divine, where the emphasis is on calling upon God for intervention without being bound by preconceived notions or denominational divides.

      Your personal experience with miracles, though limited and not entirely positive, doesn’t seem to have deterred your hope and openness to the possibility of divine intervention. It’s a testament to a faith that is both reflective and adaptable, grounded in personal experience as well as theological understanding.”


    • Bibliophile

      I’m just surprised at how much this AI generated “response”, if we can call it that, sounds like something Erik Quek regurgitated… Anyway, let’s set that conspiracy theory aside for the time being…

      First of all, sorely disappointed. This blog post promised to deliver on the following: “the piece delves into the intersections of faith, scriptural interpretation, and contemporary theological perspectives.”

      It does not. It explores nothing but the author’s bias. You cannot expect anyone to take seriously such bold faced assertions as this:
      “To me, the gifts seem to have followed the same pattern (as the scriptures). They were not “closed.” They simply ceased. It was a de facto stopping. That is what I mean by being a de facto cessationist.”

      Ahem. Well, it seems to me, like necessity is the mother of all invention! I can almost hear the thought process now: “Hmmmm… How can I maintain this theological precommitment to cessationist ideology – and still be ‘flexible’ enough to accommodate things I can’t explain within the narrow confines and arbitrary limits of my systematic theology? I know! I’ll make up a random term that’s vague and ambiguous enough to provide an escape hatch if I need it.” Nah, bruh. Not gonna pull the wool over pur eyes on that one…

      Apart from that, as a side note – but not really, because you also compared your own made-up term about gifts to the canon – I have already repeated here the story of my encounter with a Baptist master of indoctrination who claimed that the early Christians didn’t need an official “Bible” right from the start, because, according to his crack-pot theory, “they still had the apostles”… Well, yeah, sorry to say, this post about “de facto cessationist” ideas sound about as likely as that Baptist quackery… Really, bro, you can do so much better than this. I’m really disappointed.

      And that blog about Christmas? I’m sad to admit, but the quality of content here is dropping rapidly…

    • Bibliophile

      Also, sidenote: reiterating this point: as I understand it, and have explained here before, cessationism was invented by protestants who had no option but to deny the gifts, because they couldn’t explain the presence of the gifts in the Roman Catholic Church, which they asserted was the “whore of Babylon”; so they made up this stuff about the gifts having ceased, and then claimed that any miracles performed by Catholics was the work of the devil… Very convenient for protestant polemicists, that ol’ devil…

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