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Debunking 3 Cessationist Myths

Debunking 3 Cessationist Myths March 15, 2018

[Cessationist you will be…calling you the Holy Spirit is]

Going to rely heavily on this podcast that Matt did up yesterday (still blaming the time change, you’ll have to forgive me for blogging laziness) in response to this video by Canon Phil Ashey about the work of the Holy Spirit and hopes for the ACNA. You should listen to the podcast for the theological angle. As for me, I thought it would be fun to debunk three cessationist myths. Those things you think cessationists believe but they don’t actually believe.

Myth #1 Father, Son, and Holy Bible
Only just recently heard that this is sometimes mouthed with much sniggering by continuationists about their cessationist brotheren and sisteren. The Holy Spirit isn’t even there, they say, having been replaced by a dry and monotonous consumption of the Holy Scripture, which will eventually turn you into some sort of ghastly pedantic Calvinist if you just keep reading it, plus lots of terribly boring commentaries. Also learn Greek, you poor miserable sinner. Cessationists think that the Holy Spirit, like Baby, has been stuffed in a corner. He mustn’t come out and dance his beautiful dance and draw all the nations to himself because you just want to read the Bible all the time.

Contrary to this mythical view, cessationists (on the whole–I don’t actually have time to do anything but generalize broadly) do actually believe in the Holy Spirit. He is indeed a member of the Godhead, and does lots of things. In fact, the church would not exist at all were it not for him. Neither would you believe, if in fact you are a believer. And his work is miraculous–breathing life into the spiritually dead, forming, shaping, and strengthening the church, illuminating the scriptures so that the words leap off the page and smack you in the mind and heart.

The Holy Spirit is the essential person who brings you to Jesus who brings you to the Father. Then he keeps you there, not letting you wander off into darkness and death. This first miracle, that anyone believes, keeps going on over and over in the quietest and most subversive way so that most of the time nobody, sometimes not even the believer himself, really knows the depth and magnitude of it.

Myth #2 No Miracles For You
The work of the Holy Spirit, mostly unseen because nobody is looking for it, is powerful and real. And many times indisputably miraculous. In other words, of course God does miracles. Nobody disputes that. The question, I think, is in what manner and how often. The cessationist would say that none of us are uniquely empowered, in the way that the apostles were, to raise the dead and heal the sick. We are stuck praying and begging God who does always answer our prayers, which isn’t nothing, but not always the way we want him to. I, however, can’t walk up to someone dead and command him to stand up and walk. Well, I can, but I would look stupid. Instead I have to pray and ask, and often keep on praying for a really long time.

Incidentally, I have more than a few times prayed for people to be healed and they have been healed. But I wasn’t the only one praying, though I might have been the loudest, and I do not have that particular gift, of spiritual healer, any more than anyone else who prays and prays.

But of course God breaks into the order of his own universe and miraculously brings help, comfort, salvation–both temporal and spiritual–healing, money, food, relief, escape from danger, and sometimes even the occasional sending of an angel when circumstances get dicey and perilous.

Myth #3 No Feelings Either
And even, which is perhaps more important for the person trying to cope day to day, the Holy Spirit enlivens even the emotions and heart with love and affection for himself. He imparts some indescribable knowledge that he is real and that you, his child, are saved and safe for eternity. And then when you pray and read the scripture he is there in your heart and mind, drawing you irrevocably to himself so that you can keep going day by day, enduring long past the moment when you thought you could.

There are so many feelings for the cessationist Christian. And not all of them are mean and nasty. Some of them include joy, wonder, hope, delight, empathy, compassion, love (I know, ewwww) for God and other people, and desire to know God and see him in all things.

But all these feelings do have to be tempered and measured by the mind and will, by the constant, if boring, reading of the scripture, which is the way that the Holy Spirit speaks. He takes the words and whacks you with them, comforts you with them, guides you with them, feeds you with them. The more you read them, the healthier and stronger you can be. You don’t actually need anything else. You don’t need to know what’s going to happen next. You don’t need a sign. You can act in the world, you can live and use your will and mind to do all manner of things, and the Holy Spirit will providentially arrange your life so that you do what he wants you to do.

So, there you are. Bet you’re totally a cessationist now! Have fun with the Holy Spirit…and Jesus…and the Father…all of whom you can only really know by reading the Bible. Pip pip.


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