Two good cessationist responses to Strange Fire

I cite Doug Wilson with caution.  Few men have done more mischief to the Reformed faith, but this is a good article.  The next one is by a Fundamentalist Baptist.   They are both perceptive.  Exactly on what grounds can 90% of the Conservative Evangelical world criticize these guys for “strange fire” when nobody in this discussion even pretends to have a biblical view of worship (e.g., what God commands)?

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4 comments on “Two good cessationist responses to Strange Fire

  1. Evan says:

    I don’t think you understand what’s at stake here.

    If I were a charismatic, I would not accept what either say. I would say that they are trying to limit God. I would harangue them about all my spiritual experiences. Then I would say a bunch of vague things about how God still works today, is still changing lives, and is doing great works today. I would also accuse you of dispensationalism by agreeing that certain miracles happened after Pentecost, but arbitrarily ended at the closing of the canon.

    Now, I think all of the above is dead wrong, but it shows the mindset of charismatics. These are pietists. They want to feel a movement of the spirit outside of the means of the means of grace. That’s why your previous post of suggestions for charismatics fall flat:

    1.) “Sever ties with non-Trinitarians.” Well, the Assemblies of God came out with a strong pro-trinitarian statement decades. That’s why Oneness types pretty much live in a ghetto. Nevertheless, the truth is that charismatics don’t really care much about doctrines, even core ones. What matters is a deep personal relationship with Jesus and being filled with the Spirit.

    2.) “Only God can determine how he is to be worshiped.” Telling charismatics about the RPW is like telling Eastern Orthodox about the Second commandments. God wants us to worship with our whole heart, to be free, to wave our arms in worship, yadda yadda yadda. In addition, they will confuse RPW with what the Churches of Christ do.

    3.) “You need to regulate unbiblical or bizarre practices.” This is like telling Roman Catholics to cut back on the Mariology. These people constantly seek a new touch from God. Life is never-ending contest of spiritual warfare in which one needs miraculous events in order to help gain victory.

    Anyway, if you say you are continuationist, I would suggest you come to the full Reformed faith, WCF 1.1. Just as the WCF is modified by the presence of people who were Erastians, denied imputation, had variant views on generation, so it is not changed by people claiming strange mystical visitations. As far as pulling selected quotes from Puritans to support continuing gifts, they left behind an immense documentary record that one could pull all sorts of quote. I’ve yet to see any theology of continuing gifts; instead, I see WCF 1:1.

    If there are supposedly gifts that happened in the Bible that are repeated in there, where’s the exegesis that shows what we should expect? The Assemblies of God list a few, namely that physical healing is promised by the atonement and that the Acts 2 upper room experience is promised to all. They even have exegetes who can explain it. I reject all that, but at least they have some suggestions. You seem to say that there some miracles out there, but you have no idea which ones or how to find them. Nevertheless, if Paul Cain was a prophet, you’re nondenominational about it. So what about bleeding wafers and crying Madonnas?

    As for MLJ, he did well by reviving the Puritans, but his pietism distorted his presentation of what previous generations believed. This not only caused a lot of strange thing sold under the “puritan,” it basically ruined him late in life. As for the Edwards family, well their patriarch may have done great things, but he remains the godfather of revivalism and left the New Divinity in his wake. I think both men useful things, but they shouldn’t be seen as heroes or fathers.

    The way to end this is not to promote revivalism and pietism. This stuff lives and dies by people’s emotion. Instead, we need a return to word and sacrament. In Reformed circles, we have have expository preaching but it is generally not backed up by rigorous use of the catechisms and theological training of the laity. As far as sacraments go, it is a mess. There are a few people who flirt with baptismal regeneration and a whole bunch who believe in a wet infant dedication. As for the Eucharist, you wouldn’t know you are supposed to believe unless you read some books on the side. This is to our loss. The answer to continuationism is to look to the miracles that really exist, that occur through the means of grace.

    In short, does God speak today? Yes. He speaks through His Word, through preaching and teach and through sacraments. It’s the means of grace. If you think that is insufficient, you are more of a charismatic than you realize.

    • ***Anyway, if you say you are continuationist, I would suggest you come to the full Reformed faith, WCF 1.1.***

      I should clarify. I think the cessationist arguments are logically weak. I am not saying I am seeking out the super gifts or anything like that. I am fully Reformed, but my reformed identity will not let me okay what I think are bad arguments.

    • ***If I were a charismatic, I would not accept what either say. ***

      I am not a charismatic.

      ***Telling charismatics about the RPW is like telling Eastern Orthodox about the Second commandments.***

      Are you actually wanting to dialogue or do you just have a lot of stuff to get off your chest?

      ***o it is not changed by people claiming strange mystical visitations.***

      I’ve never claimed that.

      ***As far as pulling selected quotes from Puritans to support continuing gifts, they left behind an immense documentary record that one could pull all sorts of quote.***

      I’ve never claimed the Puritans taught that. My point was that Banner of Truth is forced to admit, by their own publishing standards, that George Wishart, John Knox, Richard Cameron, Donald Cargill, Alexander Peden, and Charles Spurgeon prophesied, or at least spoke a word of knowledge. I make no other claims.

      ***where’s the exegesis that shows what we should expect?***

      I haven’t gotten around to exegesis yet.

      ***You seem to say that there some miracles out there, but you have no idea which ones or how to find them. ***

      You are reading a lot into a bunch of things I don’t remember saying.

      ***Nevertheless, if Paul Cain was a prophet, you’re nondenominational about it. So what about bleeding wafers and crying Madonnas?***

      I’ve already addressed that. The nature of the miralces was different (and Rome is officially skeptical about most of those miracles).

      ***This not only caused a lot of strange thing sold under the “puritan,” it basically ruined him late in life. ***

      Evidence? What do you mean by “ruined?” I thought about responding to the rest of it, but you seem to think that I am a charismatic (which I am not) and you evidently have a beef with charismatics. You seem more interested in getting a lot of stuff off your chest and imputing to me motives and experiences i don’t have.

  2. Angela Wittman says:

    Please forgive me if this link has already been posted, but IMO it does a good job explaining the cessationist position: http://thecripplegate.com/what_cessationism_is_not/

    As a side note to the above discussion – I don’t think Jacob is a charismatic in the least. But let’s also not get too strict regarding the work of the Holy Spirit. As a reformed believer, I think we might be a bit guilty of being the “frozen chosen” sometimes… I’m not saying let’s start the wave in church, but we could show a bit more joy when singing the Psalms or spiritual hymns, or even shed a few tears while reflecting and contemplating the Lord’s Supper. 🙂

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