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The New and Absurd Doctrine of "Functional Cessationism"

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Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up. - 1Corinthians 14:1-5 (ESV)

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The NAR is a wide and broad classification of teachings, which is why people are often confused when hearing about it. There are core sets of beliefs based on the founding by C. Peter Wagner and how it has morphed as it has metastasized. Dominionism is at its core but so is the belief that God has "put the band back together" with latter day apostles. Hyper-charismania is also a core belief. We often write about false teachers who are hardcore dominionists but may not focus so much on Charismania. Today however we have the opposite in Joseph Mattera, who while being a dominionist, often overly-focuses on Charismania in his writing. This is what we are dealing with in the above linked article from Mattera. As Mattera is a Charismaniac, he obviously believes in the continuation of the gifts of the spirit and those opposed are called cessationists. They are called such because they believe the gifts of the spirit ceased at the end of the apostolic age, when John passed away around 100 AD. I have always held a middle ground. I think the bible clearly refutes the notion of cessationism but at the same time I recognize the unbiblical nature of the way gifts are expressed in Charismaniacal churches today. Mattera takes full aim at me and this belief today, creating a brand new doctrine called functional cessationism. This new doctrine essentially says that if you do not believe in the gifts as Mattera does, then you may as well be called a cessationist. How petty and absurd. Let us reason once more.

"In this article, cessationism refers to the doctrine, practice or belief that the ascension ministry gifts and the manifestations of the Holy Spirit ceased with the early church and do not function in the present church age (Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Cor. 12: 4-11). The charismatic and Pentecostal world believes in all the gifts of the spirit and in hearing God's voice. Various terms are used to describe these manifestations: "revelation" and "illumination." On the other hand, there are evangelical rationalists, who are, in function and theology, "cessationists." Whether Pentecostal or a non-charismatic evangelical, you may be a functional cessationist if you don't practice or experience divine spiritual phenomena. The term "evangelical rationalist" describes a person who believes in all the cardinal truths of the Scriptures but denies the practice of certain manifestations of Holy Spirit phenomena in the contemporary church (1 Cor. 12:4-11)." - Joseph Mattera

Here is the thing - while the Charismatic/Pentecostal world believes in the gifts of the spirit many have diverse beliefs about the specifics. It is interesting to note here that Mattera casually throws in "hearing God's voice" into a discussion where it does not belong. As a biblical purist, one has to admit that God has spoken audibly in the past and could very well do so today if He wished. The problem is that is not the doctrine Mattera is advocating for here. Charismatics like Bill Johnson teach an emptying of the mind and "listening" to the first thing that pops into our head and hearts. The problem in assigning that thought to God is that our hearts are wickedly deceitful above all else created! That does not make me a functional cessationist it just means I can correctly interpret my bible. The term evangelical rationalist was simply made up by Joseph Mattera's wickedly deceitful heart. It is not a matter of denying the Holy Spirit but rather refusing to allow the expression of manifestations that run contrary to the bible. For example, I assume Mattera embraces the theology of being slain in the spirit despite not one shred of biblical support.

"These believers "demystify" the Scriptures and have an enlightenment framework in which all biblical truth is verified through the grid of their rational minds and understanding. Of course, as true Christians, they are inconsistent in their anti-supernatural view. This is because salvation itself, the point of translation for every believer, hinges on faith and the profession of the Lordship of Christ and His historical and supernatural resurrection. This results in a supernatural conversion experience (Rom. 10:9-10; 2 Cor. 5:17). The following are seven types of functional Cessationists:

1. Cessationism Regarding Ephesians 4:11 Ministry Gifts - Whether you or your denomination classify as charismatic, if there exists no belief in or embrace of the practical function of the ministry gifts listed in Ephesians 4:11, then you or they are cessationists concerning these." - Joseph Mattera

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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