Archives for December 2005

To be continued?

Tim Challies has posted a brief review of Sam Waldron’s new book on spiritual gifts, To be continued?. It’s good to see more authors putting pen to paper on this issue, because it seems to me that the reformed cessationists (with one or two notable exceptions) have been very quiet, and entirely unconvincing. I haven’t read Sam’s book yet (it’s on order :-)), but he does give a brief overview of it in an interview with Tim. The basic position seems to be this:

[Those who] would assume that cessationism was nonsensical and not even discussable would in almost the same breath admit or assume that Apostles no longer exist in the church today (“big A” Apostles). And I thought ‘that’s inconsistent.”… If there are no Apostles of Christ that creates the precedent for saying that, at least in certain respects, the apostolic period and the church today are distinctly different because the absence of Apostles of Christ is a great difference between the apostolic period and today. The first gift, the most important gift, is now missing in the church. I think that exposes a fundamental flaw in continuationist argument…

It’s a new argument, but I’m not convinced for at least four reasons: [Read more…]

Cessationism and the last days

A fascinating post from Mark Lauterbach about The Gospel Age and Continuationism. It’s great to see someone else doing some thinking in this area (and thanks to Adrian for flagging it up).

There’s a great deal about Mark’s post that makes sense, and it’s a very helpful summary of what a lot of folk are starting to believe. Let me give you a flavour:

The new age, according to Joel and Peter’s quoting of him at Pentecost, is the age of the pouring out of the Spirit… The end of the former age and the beginning of the new took place at the resurrection. Christ is risen, the first-fruits of those who sleep… Classical cessation-ism theorizes that there is an apostolic era, a transitional time in the beginning of the age, after which certain gifts fade. But this is to place the transition at the wrong point in time. It is not the apostles presence that marks the age. It is the empty tomb.

What’s good about Mark’s post is that he points out much that is wrong with the traditional cessationist view. He’s right, it is not the apostles’ presence that marks the new age. There’s not sufficient time to develop my response in one post, so I’ll no doubt return to it (and Mark’s other excellent entries) at a later date. But let me at least start.
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UCCF and local churches

There’s an interesting interview with UCCF director, Richard Cunningham over at Adrian Warnock’s blog. It’s interesting to see Adrian’s perspective (with his roots in NFI). His comments that in the past there has been some CU’s who have not been very accepting of people from charismatic backgrounds. were accepted by Richard, which I suppose adds some balance to the fact that many reformed conservatives feel equally excluded, a point which Richard also touches on later.

But of most interest are Richard’s very encouraging answers are to do with the way that CU’s (should) relate to churches. Here are some highlights:

The Christian Unions is a partnership between students, staff and supporters all of whom are encouraged to be committed to a local church. A CU does not have the breadth and depth of age, maturity and gifting to be a substitute for church… The health of many CUs is greatly affected by the presence of lively, Bible teaching churches in the vicinity.

There are 2 main pitfalls. One is when a CU misunderstands itself and begins to ape a church by putting on more and more meetings… This could lead to some students not having enough time to get involved in a local church… The other is when a local church misunderstands the nature of a CU and criticizes the existence of student led bible study groups…

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Gospel freedom in Turkey

Today should see the start of the trial of Orhan Pamuk, a Turkish writer accused of insulting his nation. His crime? To remind his country that a million Armenians were killed by the Ottman Empire less than a century ago, a fact that few outside Turkey dispute.

Pamuk is not a Christian, but the case highlights the ongoing human rights issues in the country. It is not just writers and academics that are facing state-sponsored persecution, many Christians face persecution, and some are in jail. All this in a country that is seeking to apply for membership into the European Union.

EU membership (if it comes) would probably be a good thing for Turkish Christians. It is difficult to imagine the European Commission tolerating political or religious prisoners. It could even be a good thing for British Christians. Perhaps a religous country within the union would slow down the rampant secularism that all too apparent. Personally, I find it hard to believe that Islam is more dangerous than secularism, particularly when the church has become so much like the world in secularist countries, but much less so in Muslim ones.

It’s an interesting to think that could Christians in the UK could be linking up with Muslims in Turkey to combat anti-Christian legislation in Brussels. It is, however, a long way off. And before we start joining forces, Turkish persecution of Christians must stop. If anything, that seems even further away – though we also said that about persecution in East Germany in 1988, didn’t we?

The entertainment generation

It seems I’m not the only one concerned about the influence that entertainment is having in our lives. Rob’s post takes a slightly different slant from my recent article. His great concern is the way we often are entertained by sin, my concern also the time entertainment uses up, which we could be using for more glorious things. Either way, the solution is the same. To quote from the post:

Do not love the world any longer. It is dying. It is corroding and rotting. Those who love it will die, corrode, and rot with it. Love the Father. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love one another. Follow King Jesus and learn of His pleasures. They are eternally satisfying, full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control. They are rivers of delight. They cause abundance of happiness. And the cross provides it all.

A just war?

Today I was reading through an old essay of mine called The Ethics of War, and came across this quote from Helmut Thielicke. It just seemed very appropriate to the current situation:

‘What is manifested here is nothing less than the world-after-the-fall, whose injustices cannot be clearly demonstrated because there are in this world no zones of unequivocal righteousness with which to contrast them. There is no such thing as a wholly just war, and my decision to endorse a given war and participate in it can be made only from the standpoint that I see, or think I see, greater wrong on the one side than the other, and that when I plunge into this confused tangle of unrighteousness I do so in the confident assurance of God’s forgiveness.

Taken from Theological Ethics: Volume One – Foundations, (London: Adam & Charles Black, 1968), pp 414–5.

Fascinating interview with Wayne Grudem on cessationism

There’s an in-depth interview with Wayne Grudem over at (part 1, part 2) about the cessationist/continuationist debate. I’m glad it’s couched in those terms — too often we see continationists (who accept that God can still give these gifts) charicatured as charismatics (who emphasise the regular use of such gifts).

The interview is well-worth a read, but I’ll highlight some particularly interesting comments.

I think it is somewhat of a historical aberration that cessationism – that the leaders of the Reformed movement have been cessationist. This was certainly not true in the seventeenth century among Puritans in England… [Read more…]