Saturday, December 30, 2006

contra copy 7

Contra DJP #7

His Article:
Red Herring: Tongues of Angels

His Possible Argument?:
1. Biblical sign-gifts were incredible phenomena
2. Modern day occurrences are “anemic” and at a total disconnect with the Bible
3. Therefore, the gifts are not for today

My Rebuttal:
Once again, Dan’s conclusion does not follow from his premises, unless he could prove (1) that there are no modern day occurrences of the gifts that are on a level comparable to New Testament times and (2) only occurrences that are comparable to New Testament miracles are true spiritual gifts.

He cannot prove that modern day occurrences are anemic because he doesn’t know every modern day occurrence (nor does anyone but God). So I won’t accept his second premise unless he can prove it. Can I prove that a miraculous gift is incredible just by pointing to it? No, which is why I am arguing from scripture. In the same way, he can't prove that the spiritual gifts have ceased just by pointing out their widespread absence from the church today. Arguments from ignorance don’t work.

Second, nowhere does scripture teach that supernatural gifts of the Spirit will always be as awe-inspiring as things that the apostle Paul or Peter or Christ performed (see again verses such as 1 Sam 3:1, Ps 74:9, Amos 8:11,12). Many cessationists will even try to prove cessationism by pointing out that at the end of Paul’s life the gifts were beginning to wane and he could not always heal. But just as Dan has pointed out elsewhere, the Bible is not a mural, it's a story with rises and falls and a climax and a conclusion.

The Bible teaches that signs and wonders occur at the will of God, by his Spirit (Heb 2:4). With this in mind, I don’t see how we can Biblically put minimums or maximums on the movement of the Spirit, is he not like the wind (John 3:8, Ecc 11:5)? All we can do is see his effects and feel his direction. We may ask him to empower us in certain ways, but we certainly can’t see him or predict what he will do next.

So let’s not make ourselves out to be wiser than we really are by saying the Spirit can only move in great and powerful ways and won’t speak in small ways through little means.

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Anonymous said...

You wrote: "...With this in mind, I don’t see how we can Biblically put minimums or maximums on the movement of the Spirit..." I totally agree with you on this point.

To argue either extreme makes God pretty small. The cessasionist says God "never" does something (dangerous thing to claim) and the signs and wonders crowd says that God "always" does something (equally dangerous). In the area of saying what God does or doesn't do today, definatively speaking, I think it is always best to say "He can if He wants to".

rick said...

Good addition. This is why I like the "radical middle" approach. God is God and we are not.

God bless!