Sola Scriptura vs Continuationism
‘ello! Greetings chaps!
Phil Johnson began his discussion defending Sola Scriptura and cessationism against continuationism (“continuationism” is a preferable term to “charismatic,” since all Christians believe the Holy Spirit is active in His church).
Phil’s first post in this series is absolutely ingenious. He basically makes the case that there are no real continuationists today. What he means is that most continuationists concede that none of the miraculous and revelatory gifts that exist today compare to those of the first century. They are quick to list numerous qualifications for their view of the Sign Gifts which drastically lessen the importance of these gifts today. For example, it is often claimed that (1) apostles today do not have the same authority as the Apostles in the early church, (2) true prophets can make false prophecies, (3) the prophecies themselves are not God-breathed, (4) tongues spoken today aren’t human languages like the tongues spoken at Pentecost, (5) there are no miracle workers like those in the first century, and finally (6) the canon of Scripture is closed.
Already we can see that most continuationists hold to a form of cessationism. They may give lip service to the fact that everything that happened in the first century church still happens today, but they don’t really mean that – as has been demonstrated above.
I’ve always wondered what purpose these lesser forms of the miraculous gifts have today. If apostles that exist today have a lesser authority, why call them apostles? (unless you simply mean that they are “messengers” of the gospel, by which you are distinguishing them from the gift/office of Apostle. In fact, every Christian could then be called an “apostle”). What good are prophets if they cannot be held accountable for false prophecies? What kind of a message from God is not God-breathed and infallible? What good is a miracle worker who does not perform miracles of the same degree as in the first century (raising people from the dead, healing known cripples in front of a crowd)? Why has God stopped giving Scripture?
It is important that continuationists respond to these questions.
Most of Evangelicalism in our day has continuationist tendencies simply because they have not thought through the issues. Did God give particular gifts for the founding of His church? How does Sola Scriptura play into all this? Indeed, the presuppositions one brings to the table are vital in how one deals with this entire discussion.
If you start with the presupposition that the Bible is the final, sufficient revelation from God – sufficient to function for all things pertaining to life, godliness, faith and practice, you will end up siding with the belief that God does not give new special revelation today (be that personal or otherwise).
I’m firmly convinced that Sola Scriptura should be the starting point in this discussion.
One final note – how would most continuationists respond to real continuationists that claim that the miraculous gifts today are exactly as they were in the first century? …
I wonder if most continuationists have considered that last question.
Phil will be continuing his discussion on his blog. I'm not certain how many posts it will require to discuss all the relevant issues, but I imagine a good number. Keep checking his blog.
Welp, time to jet. Back latas gatas.
Defending the complete sufficiency of Scripture,
Case of Base