A fruitful debate is one where both parties engaged in dispute rightly understand and accurately represent the position of the person with whom they disagree. My desire for this series of responses to common cessationist arguments and objections are, 1) to provide cessationists with a succinct response to arguments made against miraculous and revelatory charismatic continuation; 2) to provide continuationists with a pool of apologetic answers to these arguments and objections; and, 3) to accurately represent the continuationist position for those who are attempting to honestly and objectively weigh the evidence provided. It is my hope that these answers will advance the dialogue between cessationists and continuationists, by preempting arguments which do not pose an actual challenge to the presuppositions of continuationist theology, and by providing an occasion for cessationist counter-responses which actually do.
Over the next three weeks, I will be publishing a daily response to the arguments and objections that I have had to contend with since becoming a continuationist, seven years ago. They are hard fought responses, the fruit of many hours of study and meditation; I pray that my labor will be of service to you.
Arguments against Continuationism from Scripture:
Argument 1 — 2 Timothy 3:16—17
Argument 2 — Hebrews 11:1—2
Argument 3 — Revelation 22:18—19
Argument 4 — Proverbs 30:6
Argument 5 — 2 Peter 1:19
Argument 6 — 1 Corinthians 13:8—10
Argument 7 — Ephesians 2:20—23
Common Objections against Continuationism:
Objection 1 — Modern day prophecy is incompatible with the Reformational doctrine of sola Scriptura; it undermines the Bible’s authority and sufficiency.
Objection 2 — If
a person claims to have received a prophecy from God today, then they
need to issue an addendum to the Church, and have every person who owns a
Bible staple their new prophecy to the back of Revelation.
Objection 3 — Fallible prophecy is an oxymoron. An infallible God cannot deliver fallible revelation.
Objection 4 — Tongues were given by the Spirit for the proclamation of the gospel, in actual languages. Therefore, those who purport to exercise tongues as a private prayer language demonstrate both their ignorance of Paul’s teaching and the invalidity of their experience.
Objection 5 — If continuationism were true, there would be no argument about it among Christians.
Objection 6 — Church History is a witness to the veracity of cessationism.
Objection 7 — If you concede that the office of Apostle has ceased, then you are a cessationist.
Objection 8 — Teaching that God still gives prophetic revelation is dangerous because it encourages people to look for revelation outside of the Bible.
Objection 9 — Since prophecies are messages based upon the interpretation of subjective experiences, there is no way anyone can know whether a prophetic message has genuinely come from God. Therefore, avoid making much of your experiences and stick with the objective words of Scripture.
Objection 10 — Charismatics wrongly interpret the Bible to accommodate their experience.
Objection 11 — If prophecies repeat the Word of God, then they are unnecessary. If prophecies contradict the Word of God, then they are heresy. If they add to the Word of God, then they point to Scripture’s inadequacy and insufficiency.
Objection 12 —
Deuteronomy 18 warns us that if a prophet speaks a word presumptuously
in God’s name announcing something they were not commanded to speak, and
the thing that they say does not come to pass, then that prophet shall
die. According to these verses, it’s one strike and you’re out. So then,
if you insist on bringing a prophecy in the church today, you’d better
be 100 percent correct.
My responses to this list of arguments and objections is subject to
modification, addition, and retraction based upon the responses,
teaching, and correction I may receive. I welcome your interaction! I
simply ask that you deliver your comments in the same spirit of charity
that was present as I was constructing these responses.