So Nimm Denn Meine Hande...

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Foundation of the Answer to the Question of Cessationism: Part 3

Now, I made a pretty silly statement at the end of the last post, saying that “all this is pretty much useless”. What did I mean by that? Well, in setting forth an argument for or against cessationism, personal history and personal experience gives a context for the person and a context for the argument but is not an argument in and of itself. It wouldn’t matter if I had never encountered non-cessationism (in all it’s various forms) or if I had encountered it comprehensively. I could live on a Hutterite colony my entire life and be able to give a case either for or against it just as well as if I was the premiere faith healer in the world and, as an infant, spoke my first words in tongues.

The argument is not an argument from experience; it’s an argument from the scripture. The case can be set and settled in the pages of the Bible. This is a common mistake made on both sides of the camp; and though I will admit that non-cessationist often attempt to argue from experience much more than cessationists, I must admit that cessationists make ‘heart felt pleas’ against non-cessationism way too often.

Why do I say this? Well, quite simply because that is the claim that the Bible makes for itself. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says:

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

2 Peter 1:3 says:

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

Psalm 19:7-11 say:

“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”

So, from those three verses we learn that the scriptures are complete and useful (opposing everything else that is not useful) for equipping us for everything we need to do and everything we need to be, and is also instrumental in both processes. It revives the dead soul, gives wisdom to fools, gives joy to the heart and light to the eyes (Anticipating the questions about 2 Peter 1:3, which does not explicitly say “Bible” in some form, I simply put forth that knowledge of God the Father and God the Son only come from the Scriptures. They are the source of “our knowledge of him who called us…” and thereby are the foundation to that process.).

Now you say “wait a minute! Those verses don’t rule out experience! They simply set the Bible as sufficient for teaching us everything and helping us get to where we should be!”

And yes…that is true. Those verses set the basis for the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture. It doesn’t rule out experience as a source of doctrine, it just sets Scripture as the bottom line. I’ve often heard the argument that goes, “Well, the Bible says such and such but how can you challenge my experience? That happened to me! Who are you to say that it wasn’t God?” Were YOU there? Did YOU see it?”

And nope. I most likely wasn’t there and didn’t see it. But I can still speak something about it.

What's more, I've had tremendous experiences too. I've been in churches where everyone was 'speaking in tongues'. I've personally seen irrefutable healings. I've personally been healed. I've had people prophesy over me and I've heard amazing prophecies. I would go so far as to say that I could match almost anyone in non-cessationist circles when it comes to having dynamic spiritual experiences. None the less, those experiences do not dictate doctrine...and we'll stop here seeing as that’s for the next post. Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian

6 Comments:

Blogger Benyamen said...

I'm not going to agree or disagree with you yet, but I do have a couple of comments with
regards to experience and Scripture. First of all with regards to the Scripture references:
"2 Timothy 3:16-17 says: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching,
rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be
thoroughly equipped for every good work." Does that necessarily mean that Scripture
says everything there is to know? It means that everything in Scripture is true, but it
doesn't necessarily rule out that truth can be found in other places as well, such as
experience. As well, "2 Peter 1:3 says: “His divine power has given us everything we
need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory
and goodness.”" You substituted Scripture for "His divine power", but I would argue that
the experience of the Holy Spirit could just as rightly be substituted there as "His divine
power". You stated that, "I simply put forth that knowledge of God the Father and God
the Son only come from the Scriptures" but Romans 1:20 says that, "For since the
creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have
been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without
excuse." God has made himself known through creation and personal interaction with
people throughout history, so to say that the bible is the only way to know God isn't the
case. Most of the bible is just accounts of God’s personal interactions with people. John
16:5-16 (paraphrase) essentially says that it is the Holy Spirit that will guide into truth,
convict of sin and righteousness, and make known to us the will of God, not just the
Scriptures. It's not to say that Scripture has no place by any means, but it's not to say that
it is the only source for truth. It is God that is truth, not the Bible. The bible is only true
because it is the word of God.

Unlike you, I haven't had nearly as many "non-cessationist experiences", but I would
argue that Scripture does show that it is the Holy Spirit that is to be our guide into truth,
and that as Spirit filled believers, experience of the Spirit does have something to
contribute in the search for truth.

I don't know what you think on these points, but I think these are legitimate questions that came to my mind after reading Pt.3.

10:16 AM

 
Blogger The Armchair Theologian said...

I, uh, didn't, uh, say any of the things that you accuse me of. Uh, what post did you read?

12:34 PM

 
Blogger Benyamen said...

What are you talking about? I made some direct quotes from your post. I'm not attacking anybody here, I just had some questions that I thought needed answering. If I misunderstood you I'm sorry, but even if I did misunderstand you somehow what are you trying to say?

1:17 PM

 
Blogger The Armchair Theologian said...

You gave three statements about things that I said which I didn't actually say. You said:

"You substituted Scripture for 'His divine power'"

Actually, I didn't. I understand the phrase "through out knowledge of him" to logically connect to being scripture, since our knowledge of him comes THROUGH scripture.

Also, you said:

"God has made himself known through creation and personal interaction with people throughout history, so to say that the bible is the only way to know God isn't the
case."

Again, you're putting words in my mouth. Knowledge of God the Father can come through general revelation. Romans 1:18-20 clearly talks about what can be learned through general revelation. But I didn't talk about God the Father. I was talking about God the Father AND God the Son (which was admittedly a convoluted way of refering to the trinity). Knowledge of those two together, and the relationship between the two, ONLY comes through the scriptures.

As for the Bible being the only truth, again, I said no such thing. In fact, I said the opposite. I said:

"It doesn’t rule out experience as a source of doctrine, it just sets Scripture as the bottom line."

Here's some friendly advice Ben: Relax buddy! Sit back. Read things three or four times before jumping to conclusions and arguing a point that we actually both agree on....k?

10:17 AM

 
Blogger Benyamen said...

After reading it a couple more times, and after reading your explanation. I still don't think we're totally on the same page here. I still seem to read that you place experience of Spiritual gifts, and experience in general in the "untrustworthy" category and elevate Scripture to the be all and end all. But I'm not going to argue with you here. I'll "sit back" and see what else you have to say over the next while.

Just for your information though, when I'm commenting here, I am relaxed. I think you're reading the wrong kind of intonation into my monotone Courier New voice. I'm just pointing out what I'm seeing, not looking to argue or provoke.

2:03 PM

 
Blogger Markio said...

I haven't been able to get into comments for days nows. Phew, glad to be back.

I have lots of questions but I will wait until you have given more because I assume that you will answer some of those with time.

I would like you to define a term for me: apostolic healing. It is not a biblical, at least not one I could find in my bible. What does it mean?

8:28 AM

 

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