Ok, after the first seven parts of this series it should be almost clear where I stand on this issue. But I ended the last post by saying that I am neither a continuationist or cessationist. Let me clarify just what I am . . .

I define a Charismatic as one who thinks that the supernatural sign gifts such as tongues, prophecy, healings, etc. are normative for the church today. Therefore, believers should expect them. A cessationist is one who believes that these gifts ceased due to an exhaustion in purpose around the first century (some would say with the death of the last Apostle).

I don’t think that one can make a solid case for the ceasing of the gifts from Scripture. However, I don’t think that one can make a solid case from Scripture for the closing of the canon. I believe that both of these issues are very similar. Could God add books to the Bible if it were his purpose? Of course. Could we cry “foul” and say “You cannot do that because our traditions and councils have said you cannot? No. We (Protestants) believe in the de facto closing of the canon. What does that mean? We believe in the closing of the canon because it, indeed, closed. It is a historical and experiential reality. God just quit adding books to the canon. Only after this does our theology step in and attempt to explain this by saying it closed because soteriological history was completed.

I believe the same about the gift of prophecy, tongues, and other supernatural sign gifts. I believe they have ceased because they ceased in church history (as I argued) and I, personally, have never experienced them. Therefore, I am a “De Facto Cessationist.” Some may call it “Soft cessationist” and that is fine, but I like the term de facto since it describes the reasoning behind my position.

To those of you who are Charismatics out there:

I think that you have to understand my reasoning and the reasoning of those like me. It is not as if we are putting God in a box. We are just being responsible with our beliefs (which are precious to God) by attempting to explain the way we see things. I don’t judge all claims with the same standard. I don’t have a “guilt by association” default drive with this issue, tagging the back of the shirts of all Charismatics with a Benny Hinn label. I respect many who are Charismatic and think they are very bright and have something going on that persuades them to believe as they do. But I have been in the church all my life, traveled the world on missions trips, and partaken in many Charismatic services and never seen anything that would make me change my positions. Were I to see something that compels me to change, I would change.

With prophecy, for instance, if I were to see someone who claimed to be a prophet, speaking on behalf of God, and he, for example, raised someone from the dead, so long as he spoke in accordance with sound doctrine, I would most certainly listen (at least I hope I would). If someone claimed to have the gift of healing and came and healed my mother, I would believe and change my stance. If someone would have healed my sister before she died, again, things would be different. But the fact is that I have not ever witnessed such. I don’t even have any good first hand testimony of such happenings. Sure, I believe that God heals, so coming to me with a story of healing is already in line with my theology. But what I lack—the essential component—is God gifting an individual with the particular gift of healing. Most healings and miracles I have seen come through prayer, not through a divine conduit with this particular gift.

Therefore, I remain a de facto Cessationist.

Two Important Points:

1. Am I Putting God in a “Box”?

I often hear it said that people like me put God in a box due to my unbelief. You need to be very careful with this line of thought. It could very well be that you are the one putting him in a box. Let me explain.

I remember studying the great prayer revivals in American history with John Hannah. While discussing these movements, we, the students, inquired about why God moved so much during this time in our history. His answer was rather odd. He said there was no reason he knew of. He went on to describe similar events where revival did not occur though the actions of men were the same. The moral of Hannah’s lesson was that God moves when and where he will and we just don’t know why.You cannot map Him. You cannot put him in a box one way or the other.

If God chooses to send a prophet or a man with the gift of healing, it is his own accord, purpose, and will which sanctions such. To have a “theology of expectation” not only sets many up for disillusionment, but can also be putting God in the box that you accuse others of. God’s movements are mysterious. It could very well be that a revival breaks out. It could very well be that he decides to gift people with supernatural gifts. It is possible that he could send a prophet to your door. But this does not make it normative. It just says he did it. Praise God.

Remember the passage from the early life of Samuel where Samuel was hearing God’s voice calling him but he did not know it was God? The preface to this narrative is very interesting: 1 Samuel 3:1: “Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD before Eli. And word from the LORD was rare in those days, visions were infrequent.” Why were visions infrequent? We have no idea. They just were. De facto.

2. Is God waiting on me to believe?

Also, you must remember that God’s movements in his people’s lives are not characteristically coy. When he is going to move in your life or mine, he is not waiting for us to believe in certain gifts or movements before we are qualified to receive such. He did not wait for Paul to be a believe before he hit him with a ton of bricks on the road to kill Christians. He blinded him and spoke. De facto, God was speaking. He did not wait for the Apostles to believe in tongues before they received them on the day of Pentecost. De facto, they were speaking in tongues.

If God wanted me to be a Charismatic, I would be one. He is not waiting for me to become one so that he can finally do his work.

The Spirit moves in mysterious ways. Outside of his general promises, it is very hard for us to hold his feet to the fire of the details. We wait, watch, pray, and follow his guidance. We can all put him in a box, but he won’t stay there, believe me.

I am not Charismatic. I am not necessarily cessationist either. I am, right now, a de facto cessationist who lives with a high expectation that God is going to move in the way he will. I hope that I am always ready to follow.

Thus ends the series, de facto.

When commenting, please try to make sure you have read the previous posts. I am sure that they will answer many of your questions.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon 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. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    93 replies to "Why I am Not Charismatic (Part 8): I am a De Facto Cessationist"

    • Mary

      Is this being Christian? The Hatfields and the McCoys? The Union and the Confederacy? This sounds like a family feud!! Some here post in kindness and respect…others have the “intellegentsia” without the love that God said would define us as Christians…having the fruit of the Spirit. I won’t go in to the Scripture references…do the study.
      I am currently in a Pentecostal Church, have been for 20+ years…came out of a totally pagan lifestyle until God called me out of darkness.o/!!!
      HOWEVER, when He allowed me to study His word, certain teachings of the Pentecostal Holiness denomination began to sound hollow and the soundness of doctrine rang flat because of personal interpretation and personal convictions taught as doctrine. But that does not mean these precious folks are no less in the eyes of God who will hold them to account for how much they loved Jesus. I like what Dr. G had to say and I must admit this is an ongoing mystery to me that I am seriously seeking the mind and heart of God for.
      I would suggest that the office of prophet, however, is still in operation because the Scriptures tell us they(2-Moses and Elijah) appeared with Jesus on the Mount and the Bible speaks of 2 prophets appearing one more time to work MIRACLES on the earth (assuming I am eschatologically in agreement with you)
      We seemingly have a propensity toward the academic application of the possibilities God has declared to be available to those He chooses to Sovereignly empower His people with. We oftentimes categorically classify choice individuals as checking their brains at the door if they believe certain teachings…and the list of denigrating categories grows onward. I wonder if we are separating our intelligence from our minds, as we oftentimes do with our emotions and justify the sin that results from giving in to a feeling? Many Pentecostals are as guilty of sinning from emotionalism ( I heard it today, I believe!) as mainline people sin from lauding their intellectual prowess as rational and logical sense. God is able to transcend this…do we believe He is able?
      “It is He whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” Colossians 1:28

    • Kara Kittle

      Dr. G,
      No, not a second language as you might assume. When Peter stood up among the 12 to preach, did he preach in all the languages? No, he preached in his own language.

      If learning a second or third language was all it takes, then Rosetta Stone should be the holiest software on the planet. It completely denies the spiritual language Paul said we are to pray in.

      And the book of Isaiah says “with stammering lips and other tongues will I speak to my people, and this is the rest whereby they might find comfort”

      Now can you name me one non-corrupt language on this planet that brings comfort (the Holy Ghost is the Comforter sent by Jesus)? Can you name me one language on this planet that builds up your most holy faith?

      Now considering the gifts of the spirit listed in Corinthians…wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues, interpretation…of all of those listed together in that order, which others should we say are no longer real or effective? Wisdom? Ok toss it out, faith? toss it out as well. God gave the gifts and they are used in that order, so if we can throw one out, we should be able to toss all of them out and none of us should walk in wisdom.

      Second language? I read French, German, and some Gaelic. Does that make me holy? No. Does that make me special? No. And does it qualify me to preach or teach if I know another language? No. If you don’t want the Comforter because you might have to speak a heavenly language, as Paul puts it, that is your business, but by denying it you are missing out on a blessing in your spirit.

    • Lisa Robinson

      At Pentacost, tongues were languages that were understood by the hearers:

      vs. 6: and when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language.

      The miracle at Pentacost was not that people spoke in tongues, but that tongues were understood by the hearers that resulted in 3,000 believing and being baptized.

      I think the question that should be asked is what were the tongues for? To testify of the risen Christ.

    • Kara Kittle

      The Pentecostal Holiness church was where my dad was saved, his dad and family was saved and his grandfather from Ireland was saved. On the other side, they are as Pentecostal as well, my family is steeped in it. I grew up in an independent Pentecostal church, so I think I understand concerns people are facing within the Pentecostal faith.

      It is not that Pentecostals are not literate concerning the Bible, some are, some are not, same as other churches. It is that for some people it does take seeing the grandiose to cause them to believe. But some are just there because of tradition. But that is also consistent with all church denominations.

      The problem I see is this, there was a time in this country when Pentecostals were harassed and persecuted to such a degree that it became to them necessary for self-preservation so they began to distance themselves from everyone else. And the persecution was real, and from other denominations. And Pentecostals were thought to be the most ignorant of all Christians. So when they began to build schools they were still viewed as ignorant.

      But Pentecostals were the first to disavow segregation. People still try to find fault with American leaders like Aimee Semple McPherson. She sold dirt, which in turn allowed her church to build food banks out of which most of Los Angeles was fed during the Depression. But movies like Elmer Gantry tried to tarnish the image. Would the movie have worked if it were a Methodist or Lutheran minister? No, because mainline churches won’t allow themselves to be shown in any bad light even though their ministers are just as apt to be good or bad as any denomination.

      Pentecostalism seeks to include people of all backgrounds and races, no matter the social standing like found in some churches. And the influx of those converted to Pentecostalism most invariably includes people not really leaving their old doctrines before adopting a new one. But what is the hallmarks of Pentecostalism?

      1:Outward and vocal worship and praise
      2:seeking to follow the leading of the Spirit in our daily practical lives as well in church.
      3:acceptance of anyone of any condition.
      4:speaking in tongues, operation of gifts.
      5:seeking God intimately.

      If we limit not reading the Bible only among Pentecostals, that is not quite true, as I believe it is a general trend among all Christians. Britney Spears was a professing Southern Baptist when she kissed Madonna on stage. And her family still professes to be such. But we don’t hold that against all Southern Baptists. When you have a church that is not really Bible based, then it is ok to leave it, but to think it is the only one who does good or bad is just not right. Other churches are not quick to allow their dirty laundry to be aired, but like showing everyone how bad we are.

      In our church we are encouraged to read our Bibles at home, we are encouraged to pray at home and we are encouraged to seek God daily. And we are encouraged to be servants to each other, not just the leadership and the leadership is encouraged as well to be servants. We are taught love is not just saying, but doing.

    • John C.T.

      Chris E., you’re missing my point. Any form of cessationism inherently has the problem that I raised, which is that it sees any experience of the gifts as necessarily invalid. The reverse is not true. It is of course true, as I did state, that some Pentecostals have derided the faith of cessationist, but that is not an inherent part of their theology. As I said above, a continuationist would inherently see the cessationists faith as incomplete or lacking, but not invalid. On the other hand, any cessationist would inherently see any continuationist as having invalid experiences of the Spirit.


    • Kara Kittle

      John CT,
      You are right. We are viewed as having invalid experiences. In North Carolina where I lived a mere 6 months ago before moving to Ohio (which I moved from in 1999) there is a strange creature called the “Bapticost”. Now these people don’t necessarily like to speak in tongues, but are drawn to the more open worship. They like jumping pews and shouting and all that other “fun” stuff.

      So I inquired one bright morning of a particular woman of Fundamental Baptist persuasion “Why do these people call themselves Batpicosts?” Her reply was, “They want to be you while still being us”. There is a distinction between “us”, and these people are not helping because they blur lines, there is a lot of gray area there and some are so confused they don’t know their right hand from their left. There is nothing worse than a confused person trying to give direction.

      Like my personal favorite is “God sealed me so therefore whatever I do is ok because I know I am forgiven beforehand”. I saw a drunk man try to sing in church, while he was drunk, and someone said let him sing, he might just fall under conviction and get saved. I saw people do all kinds of crazy things in that gray area. But mostly it was a reign of confusion.

    • Chris E

      John –

      I’d like to re-iterate my earlier point – namely that CMP’s position isn’t reducible to the sort of rabid cessationism you see on some other blogs. I also don’t see his position of skepticism as vastly different from your own – or indeed mine.

      Secondly, It’s somewhat ironic that you bring up an intellectual defense of a section of the church that is not known for it’s intellectual consistency. I’d argue that the way to judge a grouping that stresses ‘deeds over creeds’ is by the practical outworking of its beliefs, rather than its beliefs considered in the abstract. In the abstract there is no reason why they should be exclusivist, yet this is almost always the practical outworking of their doctrine.

      I’ve been in Pentecostal Churches for most of my life, I’ve also had a lot of contact with traditional reformed churches, during this time
      I’ve heard many of the Pentecostal evangelists who globe-trot. The practical outworking is always a sense of exclusivity, this is a logical consequence of believing that God always works to direct people very specificially – after all if everyone else isn’t doing what we are doing, they must just not hear from God in the way we do, perhaps they never hear from God, perhaps God isn’t with them. If you look at the history of all the major pentecostal movements you’ll see that there was always a point in their history where they believed that they alone were God’s church on the earth. Whilst they tend to articulate this sense differently as they mature, this always remains as part of the DNA of each movement. Partly because the fissiparous nature of most pentecostal movements means the more extreme doctrines tend to get pushed to the forefront over time.

    • John C.T.

      Chris E., a simple assertion is not an argument. You, assert, but do not demonstrate, that CMP’s position is not reducible. I provide a significant argument that you do not deal with. You also fail to deal with the distinction I make between actual behaviour (exclusivist) and logical implications of theology. You also fail to prove that the practical outworking is always exclusivity, which is not true, as evidenced by the numerous mature writings of good charismatic and pentecostal and continuationis theologians, and by the behaviour of many continuationist churches (my wife’s home church among them) that are not exclusivist, nor indulgent in superiority.


    • Chris E

      John –

      I’d turn your question around, you repeatedly assert above that CMP adopts a purely cessationist stance, despite his repeated protestations that he isn’t, consider:

      “I have been in the church all my life, traveled the world on missions trips, and partaken in many Charismatic services and never seen anything that would make me change my positions. Were I to see something that compels me to change, I would change.”

      That is not the reasoning of a cessationist who believes that the purpose of the gifts were exhausted after the closing of the canon/the end of the apostolic era or some such.

      “You also fail to prove that the practical outworking is always exclusivity, which is not true, as evidenced by the numerous mature writings of good charismatic and pentecostal and continuationis theologians”

      This is a straw man – please name them.

    • Kara Kittle

      Chris E

      Are you implying by your experience that Pentecostals are intellectually inferior to say…Reformed Theologians?

      When you say Pentecostal ministers are you referring to all, or some. I have been reading Blaise Pascal, and you know what he said about that matter….

      An educated person makes no distinction between that of a poet and a seamstress, but an intellectual person is wise in their own mind.

      I would rather be educated than go to a church that tells me I am elect because it was chosen for me, but left someone else out. And that I would rather go to a church that does not tell me I have replaced the Jews. And not one that tells me I am going to reign from my own planet ruling over the Jews. Those are statements made to me by a Baptist person in North Carolina. Now I ask, if Calvinism is so much intellectually superior, why do they allow such nonsense? My husband’s niece was forced to go to Pensacola Bible College by her Fundamental Baptist parents. The girl was upset all the time because of the strict enforcement of certain stupid rules. The only thing this college did was force Reform theology while keeping kids locked down.

      Now if you want to address extreme issues, start with the fact the people do interject their own ideas into religion, but some are held to more accountability than others. My husband’s niece was a good kid and still is, she did not have to be subjected to this. But the man who founded the college also wrote a book about the Baptist domination over the Jews, interesting that no on approaches him on that.

    • Kara Kittle

      Chris E,
      Jack Hayford.

    • John C.T.

      Chris E., on the straw man issue, it would be profitable for you to read previous posts. CMP himself lists a number of continuationsist writers of mature and deep reflection: Moreland, Grudem, etc.


    • Chris E

      John –

      I’d like to refer you back to your previous messages which expose a definition of charismatics and continualists:

      To a charismatic, one who has not experienced some of the gifts is lacking, but that does not mean that the christian experience that one has had so far is invalid.

      As I said above, a continuationist would inherently see the cessationists faith as incomplete or lacking, but not invalid.

      The problem is that the people you refer to have – where they have spoken on the issue of tongues – been at pains to position themselves as saying that the miraculous spiritual gifts are one dimension of the way in which God acts in peoples lives. In such a view – someone isn’t to ‘lacking’ if God hasn’t chosen to work through their life using one of the miraculous gifts.

      For instance – another continualist CMP mentions is John Piper – whose sermon on the gifts of the holy spirit is online – and he definitely does not say that faith is incomplete if miraculous gifts aren’t received, and turns the whole issue into one of hungering after all the ways in which God choses to work. Read his public pronouncements over the years on people like RC Sproul or Sinclair Ferguson – it’s clear that he doesn’t view their faith in any way as less complete to his own.

      So yes, Grudem is very gracious towards those who don’t experience these gifts – but again, he takes a Piper like view.

      This is quite a long way from mainstream Charismatics/Pentecostals who do – as you point out view the faith of those who haven’t or have yet to experience miraculous spiritual gifts as less mature/complete than their own.

    • John C.T.

      Chris E., true, but CMP’s series of posts is not about traditional or mainstream charismatics and pentacostals but about cessationism versus continuationism. Some, even many, pentecostals and charismatics may go beyond what is warranted and call cessationist theology and spiritual life defective, but they do not have to. Grudem, Piper, etc. are examples of continuationists that do not go as far as those “mainstream” types. Hence, they are evidence that the view “cessationist theology and spiritual life is defective and invalid” is NOT inherent in the continuationist view.

      Indeed, your point about Piper makes my point even more strongly. If someone who is a continuationist (e.g., Piper) writes that cessationists are NOT lacking, then there is an even greater constrast between the inherent implications of the theology of continuationists v. cessationists. A continuationist can say to a cessationist (a la Piper), “you haven’t experienced the gifts but your faith is not lacking”. However, a cessationist —- any cessationist, even a de fact one —- inherently views the charismatic experiences of continuationists as invalid and not sourced in an authentic and actual experience of the Holy Spirit.


    • Kara Kittle

      You are making the best point by defining exactly what the word means, I understand you are not trying to either is better or worse, only what the definitions are.

      I myself would be a continuationist, if that is by definition one who practices as opposed to someone who believes it continues but does not practice it. But also I am a practitioner. Do I make it the sole point of theology? No, it is included in the theology. But to understand it, one who practices it is not practicing under some skill achieved as though we were performing a task. It comes through willful submission of our selves to the Holy Ghost and allowing the Holy Ghost to operate in us. That is not possession, as that implies subjugation.

      I think by now after many of my posts know where I stand on certain points. But do I think any one of you are less intelligent or lacking in faith less than I? No. We merely have different understandings about the nature and character of God and how He works in His people. But I would never say you are lacking in faith, that would be absurd.

      To really understand this, you must realize there are fundamental differences in Pentecostal and Charismatic. I come from the older school, whereas Charismatic really only took root in the Jesus Movement of the 1970s and exploded in the 1980s. But besides being a denomination, it really is more of an experience.

      I have heard and witnessed Charismatic Catholics, Charismatic Methodists and Charismatic Nazarenes. I even met Charismatic Baptists. It is easy to incorporate the experience as long as you fundamentally understand that it is not your own self, but that your own self must be yielded, or in submission to the Spirit.

      And that Spirit obviously must be tried, as advised by Paul. It does not happen randomly. It does happen in worship, which is an outward expression testified in both Old and New Testament. And this worship is either Corporate (in the church or among other believers) or it is private. But as such it is still a private matter as it relates to intimacy with God through the worship. If someone is able to force the gift at any time, it may not be the appropriate time and that is worse. It is not accomplished through New Age methods either, no one should apply this in yoga or tantric meditations. And no one should be seeking this as a form of power to do great things.

      But with God there is great power. Look at the man sitting at the Gate of Beautiful begging, Peter said “Silver and gold have I not, but such as I have I give unto thee…in the Name of Jesus, rise up and walk”. This is evident that the power comes in the Name of Jesus and it is to be used for healing, as in this case, and for other things so as long as it is approved by God.

      The prosperity doctrine is not of God and I am quick to say that, but it is not only Pentecostals who believe it. God gave specific instructions in the Bible about prosperity. And He gave specific instructions for every area of our lives.

    • Chris E

      Hi John –

      Yes, CMPs post may not necessarily have been about mainstream charismatics and pentecostals – but it was you who introduced them into the debate specifically referring to the reality and validity of their experiences.

      Grudem, Piper, etc. are examples of continuationists that do not go as far as those “mainstream” types.

      Yes, and I could also mention CJ Mahaney, Sam Storms, Mark Driscoll and others in connection with this. There is one other connection – all are Calvinists of some kind. Perhaps a a strong view of the sovereignty of God goes along with an acceptance that the doling out of gifts – miraculous or otherwise – is down to God’s providence.

      I suspect you’d have to look long and hard for views as nuanced as Grudem’s and Pipers amongst movements like the AoG, Vineyard and others, as they get where they get to via a completely different path of reasoning. Though again, it was you who claimed that it would be easy to find similar views amongst mainstream Pentecostals and charismatics.

      Finally, if a single example of a reasonable continualist is enough to demolish the stereotype, then the reverse should also apply. It’s certainly not clear that all cessationists think of all charismatics the way you describe, as a practical example think of John Macarthur (the author of ‘Charismatic Chaos’) asking CJ Mahaney to speak at the Shepherds Conference a couple of years ago. On the level of theology one could point to people like John Frame or Vern Poythress.

      Of course, there are cessationists who *do* hold those views, just as the majority of the pentecostal/charismatic world hold to the opposite error.

    • John C.T.

      Chris E, it’s not about demolishing stereotypes. Stereotypes are not relevant to my point. My point is about what is inherent in one’s theology. The examples of Grudem et al. prove that it is not an inherent assertion in/ inevitable outcome of continuationist theology that cessationist experience of life in the Spirit is invalid. The continuationist can affirm the cessationist experience is valid as far as it goes. If the gifts are still given by God through God the Spirit, then the cessationists experience of the Spirit is valid but incomplete because he/she does not experience the other (1 Cor.) gifts. The continuationist can affirm that the cessationist does experience the Spirit, just not all that the Spirit offers.

      On the other hand, it is inherent in cessationist theology that the continuationist experience is invalid. If the gifts have ceased and are no longer given out, then any continuationist claim to have experienced them or to have seen MUST be wrong. Since the Spirit no longer does such (1 Cor. ) things, the continuationist must be self-deluded, hallucinating, wrong, open to demons, etc. The cessationist necessarily holds that the continuationist is experiencing something that is not of or from the Spirit.


    • Kara Kittle

      I believe what John CT is trying to say here is something like this..a duck quacks because it is a duck, and a dog barks because it is a dog….but some people are like parrots…they might be birds but can sound like a duck or a dog and when they do it can lead to confusion.

      Is the duck or dog more important than the other? No. Is the parrot more important? No. But they should be respected for what they are and enjoyed because God made them both.

      By the way, parrots are imitators by nature, as some people are. Only God really knows the meaning of the quack, the bark, and the cluck.

    • John C.T.

      Actually, I don’t think I’m saying that, but I enjoyed reading your post nonetheless.


    • Kara Kittle

      John CT,
      ok, but it was how it read to me. At least for once we can smile at a post the other made without having a meltdown.

      I have cockatiels and learn a lot from them. For instance the female bird which we have had the longest loves my husband. She is aware when he comes and goes and calls after him when she can’t see him. Even if he just goes into another room. She realizes when he comes home the sound the car makes and rushes to windows to see him calling to him. She sometimes sits by me when I am napping and she is content just to sit in our presence.

      The male is new, we have only had him a month and he is not tame yet but is learning. He might fly to the other room, but when he does the birds call to each other even though they are not bonded to each other yet. He is more frightened and tries to bite, because he has not realized we are not a threat. They are small creatures so we understand his fears.

      Both birds know their food and react when they are being fed. So it occured to me that both of them are like Christians. Some are new and afraid because they haven’t learned yet, some are comfortable because they have learned. And we should be content to sit in God’s presence and when the one we love is not with us we miss them. Nature can teach us about God, because after all nature speaks of God as the Bible says. Thank God for my two little cockatiels, they bring a lot of joy to us.

    • cheryl u


      I like your bird analogy! Smart ones they are, huh?

    • Chris E

      My point is about what is inherent in one’s theology. The examples of Grudem et al.

      Or they could simply be inconsistent .. in the same way that the examples I gave of cessationists could be – but then I’m not sure if you actually want to argue initial premises or examples or are simply shifting between the two depending on which point is currently under attack.

      In theory, continualists can claim the high ground.

      In practice, continualists like yourself still view the experiences of charismatics and pentecostals to be an indication that large numbers, are fools, charlatans or worse. So you believe most of the same things you accuse cessationists of believing, albeit slightly more selectively.

      In practice, the majority of charismatics view Acts as normative (Grudem does not), some charismatics and most pentecostals view ‘Baptism with the Holy Spirit’ as indicative of conversion (Grudem does not), and a few subscribe to the notion of blue and grey Christians.

      In practice, this affects the books they read, who they listen to, and who they are likely to fellowship with at the level of a local church.

      In practice most charismatics and pentecostals are not continualists like Dr Grudem or Piper.

    • John C.T.

      Chris E. I see that we are getting somewhere, which is good. You make a point about people acting inconsistent with their theology and with what is inherent in their theology. I have and continue to agree with that point. It seems to me that you acknowledge my point, which is that aside from one’s behaviour (which may or may not be consistent with what is entailed in one’s theology) one’s theology has certain logical outcomes. People should try to act consistent with their theology, but often do not.

      My chief point, in my latest series of posts on this topic, has been about a problem inherent in CMPs final conclusion of de facto cessationism that is not inherent in the theology of continuationists. CMPs conclusion of cessationims entails / demands/ requires/ necessitates the further conclusion that the spiritual experiences of continuationists are invalid, wrong, etc. If the Spirit has not continued to give the 1 Corinthians gifts, then necessarily the continuationists are experiencing something that is not of or from the Spirit.

      My point is that such an approach is the wrong approach to take to one’s Christian brothers and sisters, especially since the claim to have experienced such gifts is both widespread globally and culturally and very numerous. A cessationist position inherently includes the conclusion that one’s brothers and sisters are liars or dupes, etc.

      The more Biblical and Christlike approach is to believe one’s brothers and sisters unless one has good reasons not to.

      I assert that CMP does not have good reasons not to believe his brothers and sisters in Christ. He agrees that cessationists do not have an adequate scriptural justification. The historical evidence is that the gifts did continue past the writing of Scripture, and there is evidence that gifts have continued to occur up to the present. True, not frequently, but there are possible explanations for the lack of frequency; the more important true is that the historical evidence is not one of absolute / complete cessation.

      CMP’s final position rests chiefly on the fact that he personally has not experienced such gifts and has not seen anything that would convince him that someone has in current times experienced these gifts. I would also argue that his framework for describing and defining gifts is incorrect and so leads him to mis-describe current experiences of gifts, but that is not my main point.

      Unless one has Biblical grounds for dismissing the alleged current experiences of the gifts (e.g., hard core cessationists who see current gifting as lies, hallucinations, demonic, etc.), then one does not have Biblical justification to make a pronouncement (cessationism) that entails that one’s brothers and sisters are liars or deluded, etc.

      I contrast Michaels final position with mine. I have not experienced the 1 Corinthian gifts personally and do not go to a church where they are in evidence, however because I believe that Christ commands us to love our brothers in Christ, and encourage them and function as his body, I therefore take as my initial position a belief that my brothers and sisters in Christ are telling the truth and have experienced what they claim to experience. My lack of experience can be explained a number of different ways, and a good explanation does not require that I disbelieve my brothers and sisters.


    • Howard Pepper

      I see I am coming in late in this discussion. My main concern is in relation to your comments on the canon, Michael. If there is no reliable, authoritative way to establish what is “Word of God” from what is not (my position), the whole exercise is futile.

      You say, “… God just quit adding books to the canon….” According to whom? It still comes down to human authority.

      Who else decides on any potential additions to the canon, corrections (which were being debated by key leaders like Luther as late as the Reformation), and why/how books qualified for the present canon; also the very IDEA that it should even be set up? Which books to include was the subject of many debates among church leaders and scholars, even for the earlier major grouping, for about 200 years! (Much longer for several books.) I see no evidence in that history indicating “Holy Spirit guidance” over against an eventual human concensus.

    • Dr. G.

      No doubt there are problems making every Joe and Henry think he is is own prophet from God. But to say that revelation ceased in 70 AD or so … would for that matter, deny many parts of the Bible.

      Which called for all kinds of 1) future prophets and revelatory events. Including 2) the Second Coming. Which surely would be a sort of revelation. And would change some things.

      So 3) “Cessationism” is an amusing word, in its evasive, euphemistic arbitrariness. But … technically it would have to be a heresy. Or certainly, un-Biblical.

    • Sherry Nolte

      I belong to a Charasmatic church and I tend to want to believe my fellow sister and brothers when they tell of their experience. I can not deny the testimony of what they experienced, yet I hold everything lightly and with discernment. I have seen much abuse in the area of supernatural sign and gifts and I am very doubtful that what is happening in today’s Pentecostal/Charismatic churches are truely what God intended it to be. When the Azusa street revival broke out and certain signs accompanied the presence of God many expereinced something they never had before. Tongues seemed to be the focus of that revival, but the mistake that was made was some churches decided that you must speak in tongues as an evidence of being filled with the Spirit. When this happened problems and abuses started to happen. Now we have people who are just speaking in tongues because they want to be part of what a church is doing and prove they have been baptized in the Spirit of God, but how many are just doing it in their own flesh. I have not seen any “real or substantial” evidence that would allow me to believe that the signs of today are operating the same way as in the New Testement. I am very open to the gifts. If God wanted to give me the gifts I would gratefully accept them and use them for His glory, but I refuse to make up or be dishonest about having a gift. It must function just as it did in the New testement for me to beleive it is real. For example speaking in tongues are a big problem for many today to beleive in and funtion in. In Paul’s day it too was a problem so much that Paul had to reason logically and instruct those who wanted to use tongues in 1 Cor 14. They were just uttering bable without interpretation. This is happening at this present time too. I have been in prayer meetings or gathering where people are speaking in tongues and are not kind enough to interpret what they are praying. How is that building me up? If tongues are for today they must be used mindfully with interpretation for the building up of the church. This is NOT happening. I was in a church service where almost everyone was speaking in tongues. It was chaos and they appeared to be out of their minds.(1cor14:23) God’s prensence does not cause chaos nor would it get “weird”. God’s plan is order in everything.(1cor14:26-40) Even on the day of pentecost the tongues spoken that day had meaning to those who where nearby. Paul ends up saying in 1cor 14:19 that he would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue. ( that no one can understand) He is being logical and reasonable here. Brother’s do no be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. I challenge those who beleive they have the gift of tongues to operate in as instructed in the Word of God and to pray that they can interpet or find someone to intepret their tongues…if you can’t do this do not speak in tongues. (1cor 14:28)
      I beleive there would not be so much skepticism about the sign and wonders gifts if there was not so much rejection, abuse and pretending going on. Maybe the signs and wonders gifts are not truly happening because some people in the church have conjured up their own interpretation of how the gifts operate. Also the ones who claim to have them are not following the instructions given in the Bible. Then there are others in the church that reject the possiblilty of the gifts being for today. I Believe If we all (the church) would just let down what we beleive and wait on God….He maybe could show us the true gifts.

    • Sheri

      CMP SAID: I am completely open to God giving these gifts and even giving me these gifts. What would you have me to do? Just believe even though I have never seen or heard anything compelling me in such a direction?

      A resounding “YES”!

      When I was first filled with the Holy Spirit, I was still a teen-ager, I had no idea, or should I say, was not “educated” on all of this continuationism vs cessationism stuff. I just believed! My focus was on receiving what my Lord wanted to bless me with. I didn’t understand “spiritual gifts” and what they consisted of. I was an innocent kid, ready and willing to serve Jesus.

      I was fifteen years old, raised in a Nazarene Church, I gave my heart to Jesus when I was 4 years old on an Easter morning. Then we started going to a non-denominational church, where the Holy Spirit was allowed to move, and was not denied as having power to give freedom and gifts. I was never taught, or never learned there were people who didn’t believe in the move of the Holy Spirit. . .until just this year! I am now 43 years old, and am shocked of the disbelief in churches today.

      My question to CMP is: Have you asked for the spiritual gifts? “You receive not because you believe not.” “Ask and it shall be given.”

      Don’t let this intimate experience with our Lord pass you by.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Sheri, where do you get the idea that we ask for spiritual gifts? Spiritual gifts are enablements given to us (see 1 Cor 12, 1 Peter 4:10 and Romans 12:6-8). We don’t pick and choose which gifts we get.

    • Sheri

      Lisa, I realize that, however, Paul does tell us to seek the greater gifts, no?

      My post was a simple invitation to CMP. It wasn’t meant to mean that we are to ask for the Holy Spirit to give us certain gifts, what would be the point of the meaning of “gift”? However, we are told that if we have the gift of tongues, we are to pray for the gift of translation of tongues, so that to me would mean that just because we have the gift of tongues, we don’t automatically have the gift of translation. So, we should “ask” for it.

      I have studied the gifts in some detail, it’s just one area the Holy Spirit has planted deeply in my heart. I love hearing about experiences, I love knowing of other people’s gifts and how they have changed their lives, and I love discussing them. Anything you would like to share with me for my research, I would greatly appreciate!

      I am saddened that there are gifts that are not being used in the church today because of doubt and fear, or because of certain beliefs or teachings. It makes me wonder what could be accomplished if we were all in one mind and one accord, like the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, waiting to receive. . .would 3000 get saved in one day? What a thought!

    • #John1453

      re post 75. Dr. G, I find myself largely agreeing with you. Surely the kingdom of God must be at hand : )

      #John (formerly John C.T.)

    • Lisa Robinson

      Sheri said:

      “I am saddened that there are gifts that are not being used in the church today because of doubt and fear, or because of certain beliefs or teachings. It makes me wonder what could be accomplished if we were all in one mind and one accord, like the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, waiting to receive. . .would 3000 get saved in one day? What a thought!”

      This statement suggests that if we had a replay of Pentecost as described in Acts 2, that we would see masses come to Christ. But what was Pentecost about? Jesus had promised the Spirit to his apostles (John 14-16), received through baptism (Acts 1:5) so they could testify of Him (Acts 1:8). Pentecost was introducing the baptism of the Spirit, which is essential to secure the seal of kingdom placement (I Cor 12:13) under the new covenant initiated by the death, buriel and resurrection of Christ. It was introducing the new way that people would relate to God, starting with the Jew and then eventually moving out to the Gentile. Since the new covenant has now been established, how then can we repeat the event of Pentecost?

      Furthermore, did 3,000 come to Christ because of the miraculous event or did 3,000 come to Christ because the gospel was preached with power? No doubt, the miracle of everyone hearing their own language (vs. 6) motivated receipt of the gospel, but to say that we have to have event such as at Pentecost to solicit salvation, I think misses the point of Pentecost.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Sheri, I hope my last comment did not come off as combative. It wasn’t meant that way although in re-reading it, I can see how it could be taken as such. I spent many years in the Charismatic movement, believing in a particular view of Acts but now see things a little differently, from a more macro-perspective. I want to lovingly challenge others to consider the bigger picture, rather than just looking at the incidences in Acts as prescriptive for us today. So again, I apologize if the comment seemed harsh.

      I found the question of asking for spiritual gifts intriguing so I started a discussion about it over on Theologica (www.theologica.ning.com) if you’re interested.

    • Sheri

      Thanks Lisa, I’ll check out your discussion.

      As for the 3000 coming to Christ, of course it was because of power behind the preaching of Peter, that is what the scriptures tells us. Don’t you think, however, that the Holy Spirit drew those people? Doesn’t He draw us even now? Remember when you first came to Christ, that feeling inside of wanting to share Him with everyone you came in contact with? Don’t you think that’s power from the Holy Spirit? We have no fear at that time, we can’t stop talking about what He has done for us. Shouldn’t we carry that with that all of our Christian lives? Shouldn’t we burn within our bones, like Jeremiah, if we don’t share Jesus? I know I do. I have never followed any “movement”. I didn’t even realize there were “movements” until recently when I started taking Theology. I’ve always followed Jesus and what He has taught me in His Word. Honestly, theology scares me, to much of it can be a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love studying it, but I have seen the evidence of man all over it also.

      I know what the scriptures say about the gifts, and why they were sent, but I don’t see anywhere in the Bible that has convinced me that “when the last Apostle died, or the Bible was finished being written”, the gifts were taken back. I have been gifted by the Holy Spirit, I can’t deny they are from God, that would be blasphemy. I know they are not demonic. So what are they? Can you tell me? Is it mass emotion? Mass energy? Because that’s what I’ve been hearing in theology. . .isn’t that heresy?

      What did you experience while following the Charismatic movement? Did you have a bad experience? Can you share with me what gifts you have or had? Although, I don’t believe God takes away our gifts, we just stop believing in them or stop using them. How can we experience something we don’t believe in?

      As far as re-experiencing the Pentecost, you know how I was using that experience. However, if God wanted to bring that experience back upon us, I believe He would and could. The problem today is, we don’t have the faith or the trust the Apostles did. They trusted and believed everything Jesus said to them. . .we don’t. Therefore, we won’t experience those miraculous moments unfortunately. God forgive us.

    • #John1453

      Sheri, where / what are you taking theology?


    • It’s not heresy to question an experience and find it lacking from a Biblical perspective. You may disagree, but the Pentecostal movement is a theological novelty (100+ years), and the Charismatic movement even younger than that (~50 years), so it is well and above board for people to question it.

      One thing I have always marveled at is that this was never a issue until Pentecostalism hit the scene with Charles Parham and William Seymour. Christians understood the role of the Spirit to be to convict of sin, righteousness and judgement, to empower the believer to live holy and to illumine the Scriptures. All this peripheral discussion would seem like beating the air to Christians of previous generations…

    • Sheri

      #John, to answer your question, “where/what am I taking theology”. I am taking, as a matter of fact, The Theology Program (through Reclaiming the Mind Ministries), at our church. One of our text books is Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, an Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Which I must admit, I’ve almost read completely through. And some chapters, I’ve studied 2 or 3 times. I am thoroughly enjoying it. The other text book is the Mosaic of Christian Belief, which is also very interesting. This is actually the first course, which we finished in June. The next course is Bibliogy and Hermenuetics will begin this fall.

      To Douglas, It’s not heresy to question a “human”. However, it’s heresy to question the validity and evidence of the Holy Spirit. Just because you, personally, have not “experienced” a miraculous sign gift in your life, doesn’t mean it is invalid. You are putting limitations on the Holy Spirit. To be honest, I’m not real sure of the point you’re trying to make. If the point you are trying to make is that this conversation is meaningless and has nothing to do with our Salvation. . .I agree wholeheartedly. If the point is we must watch and learn from the past mistakes of different denominations and traditions, again, I agree. Other than that, could you please explain further your post? Sorry, sometimes I just don’t catch on. LOL!

    • #John1453

      Thanks for the answer, Sheri.

      I’m familiar with the first text, but not the second.

      I look forward to reading more of your posts.


    • EricW

      On this subject, for you Dallasites (present and former), check out (as in – buy and read!) Julie Lyons’ just-published book, Holy Roller: Finding Redemption and the Holy Ghost in a Forgotten Texas Church:


      Julie (former editor of The Dallas Observer, and former reporter for The Dallas Times-Herald, where the story detailed in her book began) tells the story of how she and her also white (now DTS-grad) husband ended up making their home in an inner-city all-Black church in South Dallas that ministers to crack addicts, homeless people, and all kinds of others (both here and in Africa) who need Jesus in a desperate way. And God shows up, too – healing people, giving prophecies, casting out demons, delivering people from drugs and alcohol, etc.

      Buy the book and read it – and then visit Julie’s church and tell her and the people there that “the Bible says” that God stopped doing those things when the Apostles died. :^)

    • EricW

      FYI – The church is The Body of Christ Assembly, 5001 Crozier Street, Dallas, TX 75215 phone 214-565-1708 (edit timed out on me)

    • Sheri

      Awesome to hear about that Eric! I’ll have to check it out! Thank you!

    • hijump

      This is how I see things in the Bible: I will refer to what Peter said in Acts 2:14-21 with more emphasis on v. 17– `In the last days, God says,
      I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
      Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
      your young men will see visions,
      your old men will dream dreams.

      Cessationists always refer to a certain time frame in Christian history which is not even recorded in the Bible as their basis for supporting what Paul mentioned in the letter to the Corinthian church about cessation of gifts (1 Cor 13:8-12).

      Surely there is no contradiction between what Peter is saying to his Jerusalem audience and what Paul wrote to his Corinthian audience. I’m sure there is a simple answer to this seemingly complex issue. Here is what I could share about this so called “charismatic” continuation in our time.

      Peter was referring to Joel’s prophesy about the last days being fulfilled in his time beginning on the Day of Pentecost. It is quite clear that Peter is saying on that day the prophesy of Joel is being fulfilled at that time. I’m quite sure it also means the beginning of the fulfillment of Joel’s prophesy. Simple question no. 1: when is the beginning of that prophesy? Answer: On the Day of Pentecost when the disciples received the Holy Spirit’s empowerment in the presence of multitudes of people. Question 2: How did Joel refer to that day? Answer: He said, “In the last days.” Question 3: When did the last days begin? Answer: On the Day of Pentecost. When did the last days end? Answer: That is for you to fill in.

      Now referring to our time today, isn’t it that we still call our time the last days? So how come you’re promoting these cessationist beliefs? So who stopped these so called “charismata”? Is it God who stopped it? Answer: Certainly not God. Is it apostle Paul who put a stop to it? Answer: Obviously not him.

      I agree with what apostle Paul said that these gifts will cease, but as long as it is called the last days these gifts will continue their purpose and manifestations. Some believers gave up on the flow of the gifts of the Holy Spirit but God did not. The inconsistencies of man versus the consistency of God.

    • hijump

      To see is to believe is not the way of our faith. Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. Inquire with God what you are seeing. He will definitely get to your senses affirmatively.
      2CO 5:6-7– Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight.

      But we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16).

      The mind of Christ is not after the signs. The mind of Christ asserts the rule of God’s kingdom and therefore signs will follow.

    • Kristin Jones

      If one person who has the gift of holy spirit from God, The Holy Spirit, and is ‘a charismatic’ or has the ability to speak in tongues, interpret tongues, have a word of prophecy, impart miracles, gifts of healings, faith, discerning of spirits and have words of wisdom, and word of knowledge; then all people who have the gift of holy spirit from God, The Holy Spirit are ‘charismatic’ and have at hand all of these. These are the manifestations of the gift of holy spirit and are not distributed willy nilly. God is not a respecter of persons. We are all given the same measure. The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. We all have what is needed to the profit of the church, and can operate as needed. For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body… and have been all made to drink into one spirit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.