Old Doxoblogy

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Introductory Post To The Spiritual Gifts

"Cessationism" is the doctrine that the Apostles and their messengers where given signs and wonders to perform in order to validate the Gospel proclamation, that there is no promise or necessity to any future generation for those gifts, and that there is no "lesser" form of the Apostolic gifts.-Centuri0n
Frank Turk posted that definition of cessationism on his blog, '...and his ministers a flame of fire' yesterday. He then requested an equally-concise and equally-specific definition, so using his defintion as a template, for equality's sake, I offered this definition of my non-charismatic continuationism.
"Continuationism" is the doctrine that the Apostles and their messengers were given signs and wonders to perform in order to validate the Gospel proclamation, that there is no premise or necessity in any generation for the cessation of those gifts, and that there is no "lesser" form of Christ's gifts to the church.
I intend to go into a little more detail of my position here. The next few posts will clarify my position. Feel free to disagree, reprove, rebuke, and exhort.

First off, I think I must qualify all that I will write beforehand with this statement, "My views are as honoring to the doctrine of inspiration and a completed canon as I can be." It has become something of a custom to lump a low view of Scripture in with continuationism, but let me assure you, I have a very high view of Scripture, and I hope that comes through as I put forth my beliefs.

Introduction: In the discussion of Spiritual Gifts I think it is very important not to exclude certain people, or offices, as gifts to the church. These offices are; Apostle, Prophet, Evangelists, and Pastor-Teachers.
As for Apostles, they are all dead, yet they continue as gifts to the church through Scripture.
Prophets are also a continuing gift to the church. Their function is to give guidance in areas where Scripture is silent. It is the responsibility of individual congregations to weigh the Prophets speech with clearly defined principles in Scripture.
Evangelists are not itinerate preachers who travel church to church to hold 'revival' meetings. Evangelists are more like missionaries in their function (although there are some churches who could use a missionary).
Pastor-Teacher is one who oversees, leads, and teaches a local congregation. There is typically one main Pastor who is helped in his ministry to the church by others who are similarly gifted.
Each of these offices however also have a corresponding gift. The Apostle has the gift of Apostleship; the Prophet, prophecy; the Evangelist, evangelism; and the Pastor-Teacher, pastoring and teaching.

A quick guide for interpreting the definition(s) I have given above. I believe that all the gifts are still operative today, but only in the manner in which they are described in Scripture. I do not intend to add to the gifts as charismaticism has done, most notably in the cases of tongues and prophecy, nor do I intend to diminish them as is the tendency in cessationism. Rather, I want to be thoroughly Biblical and consistent in my definitions of the gifts. So I have these three guidelines in mind:
1. Scripture is the final authority in everything.
2. Creeds and confessions reveal what the Church has believed throughout history. We dare not turn a blind eye to this 'tradition'. And yet these 'traditions' must be judged by Scripture.
3. Both experience and non-experience color the ways we think. I think both are to be used in moderation and in subjection to Scripture.
"We have learned the plan of our salvation from no one else other than from those through whom the gospel has come down to us. For they did at one time proclaim the gospel in public. And, at a later period, by the will of God, they handed the gospel down to us in the Scriptures-to be the 'ground and pillar of our faith.'"
From"Against Heresies"by Irenaus

BTW, I have a few things to say about the Church Covenant as well, but am putting that on hold for a week or so.

7 comments:

BugBlaster said...

Hi Doxo, I've read you off and on, but never said hello before. Hello!

Can you clarify your point about prophets giving guidance in areas where scripture is silent? I guess I'm a little skeptical that there are any significant such areas.

A lot of the smoke and heat at Pyro's blog comments came from discussion of "predictive" prophecy. Do you see a distinction between a gift of predictive prophecy versus non-predictive prophecy? I have always gone under the notion of two types of prophecy: predictive and exhortative (as in the tagline that "Keith Green was a prophet to his generation"). Yet as I write this I cannot really say where I got that notion, or whether it is scriptural. Guess I've got some reading to do...

Jim said...

Jeremy, your Church Covenant sounds strikingly similar to our own. Is there a covenant textbook out there somewhere? :)

Shawn L said...

Thanks I'm very interested. Sounds like a good discussion

centuri0n said...

This is a great opening delimitation of the matters to be discussed and a list of essential definitions.

By discounting the "charismatic" gifts, you have narrowed the discussion pretty significantly, and in the end I think we are going to wind up agreeing on a lot more than disagreeing.

Anyway, I look forward to the rest of what you have to say. I've contacted my lawyer to re-instigate the lawsuit about the shekinah until we have this matter resolved.

Gordon Cloud said...

Good post. I look forward to seeing more.

Jeremy Weaver said...

Bugblaster,
Hi there!
In the Old Testament, Prophets were often brought before kings of nations in times of war. The prophet was to give the 'thumbs up' or the 'thumbs down' on specific battle plans.
I see the role of New Testament prophet performing a similar, though not synonomous, function.
For one thing, the church as a visible body does not go to war. However, the few times when prophets are mentioned in the book of Acts, we find them giving guidance to either the church as a body (Acts 11) or to individuals (Acts 21).
I'll get into a lot more of the Prophecy details later, but for now, I believe in a forth-telling and a fore-telling gift of prophecy. The forth-telling is primary, fore-telling is secondary and extremely rare.

Jim,
I think there must be!:-)

Shawn,
Got your approval then?

Oh Awesome Centuri0n,
I think I am closer to cessationism than Charismaticism, if that's what you mean. I'll be changing avatars soon, although I may keep the one for gravatar!:-)

Shawn L said...

Doxo,

This is probably how I think of it. Very good wording and right on. I used to be Cessionist but scripturally I didn't feel like their was enough evidence to say that I believed it firmly. I think your definitions are perfect and I agree with your version of Continuation.