Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. - 1Peter 2:11-12 (ESV)
The recent devotional regarding Dr. Michael Brown and Brandon Kimber from American Gospel brought up an interesting problem we never seem to tackle head on. There is an ideological disease in this country fueled by our corrupt and broken body politic. This disease teaches us there are only two streams of coherent thought. Two ideological camps. We must choose from this binary offering to whom we belong and subsequently blame everything on the other camp. The reality that escapes the people of God way too often is we actually belong in neither camp. As the key verse reminds us, we are but pilgrims and exiles travelling through this world. The problem is the apostate church loves this world and the excess of sin it allows so it is constantly seeking relevance to it and identification for the church in it. This devotional however is not about the shady NAR theology of dominionism and how the powers that be, have sold their collective soul to the Republican Party. This devotional is examining the same false forced binary choice that is presented to believers regarding the gifts of the spirit.
On one side of this debate are the cessationists. These folks are generally followers of Calvinism and are often driven to cessationism because they see the rampant abuses of the gifts within Charismania. These people generally believe the gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased at the end of the Apostolic Age, or when the Apostle John died around 100AD. The other side of the debate is often framed as continuationist beliefs because those folks believe the gifts of the spirit have continued to this day. Where Calvinist beliefs are the core problem back the Cessationist side, rabid, out of control Charismania is the core problem on the continuationist side. Both sides contain some truth and a fair deal of error. The world and church continue to present this as a binary choice. Whenever you dispute Calvinism, the reflex response is that the critic must be Arminian. I do not respond well to being placed in a box I did not choose. I think both sides are wrong, and I present a third option to the binary fallacy here today. You can believe that the bible clearly supports the gifts of the spirit continuing to this day and in the same breath admit that Charismania is probably doing them all wrong. You can agree with Cessationists that the Charismaniacal abuses are wrong and not embrace Calvinism and the cessation of the gifts. There is a logical middle ground that remains true to the bible, but it has to start with the humility to admit that finite human beings just might not be able to fully define an infinite God. Only our human arrogance thinks otherwise.
So let us start with the Cessationist crowd. I have yet to find any Cessationist able to respond lucidly to my central argument that Cessationism does not pass the smell test. Let us remember a few undisputed facts first:
* Cessationism believes the gifts ended around 100 AD, as previously outlined
* It is generally accepted that the books of the bible outlining the gifts, their usage, and how they are to be applied to Christian church services were written around 50 AD, give or take a decade
* The canon of scripture that we now call the bible was agreed upon around 400 AD
* The first printed bible did not appear until 15th Century