Continuationism and Cessationism: An Interview with Dr. Wayne Grudem

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by PastorSBC1303, Dec 16, 2005.

  1. PastorSBC1303

    PastorSBC1303
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2003
    Messages:
    15,125
    Likes Received:
    0
    From Challies.com

    This is the second of two interviews I have conducted with leading theologians discussing the issues of cessationism and continuationism. You can read the first interview with Dr. Sam Waldron here. It will help you define terms and understand a cessationist perspective. Today's interview examines this issue from the continuationist perspective.

    Dr. Wayne Grudem is Research Professor of Bible and Theology at Phoenix Seminary. He holds a B.A. from Harvard University, M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary and Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. He has served as president of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, as president of the Evangelical Theological Society (1999), and as a member of the Translation Oversight Committee for the English Standard Version of the Bible. He has written more than 60 articles for both popular and academic journals, and his books include: Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today, and Business for the Glory of God. He has also co-edited Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A response to Evangelical Feminism and edited Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? Four Views.

    I began our discussion by describing the purpose of this interview and the audience who was most likely to read it. I then proceed to ask questions of Dr. Grudem.

    How important is this issue in the grand scope of all that's going on in the church today. How much attention do you feel this subject deserves?

    That's a hard first question because there is no one answer that fits every church. I am in a church, Scottsdale Bible Church in Arizona, that has about 7,000 people in it. I suppose its position would be "open but cautious." Its heritage would be more from Dallas Seminary and Calvin Seminary and Bible Church background which has traditionally been more cessationist. In fact, in people's actual prayer lives as well as in the personal conversation of the pastor in the pulpit to the congregation, people talk about the Lord leading them and guiding them in specific ways. Sometimes in ways it sounds very much like the gift of prophecy to me, but they don't call it prophecy. They call it prompting or leading. I am thankful for all of that and I am very comfortable being in a home fellowship group where people pray and are willing to say how they think the Lord is leading them and guiding them as they pray and what He brings to their minds. And they don't call it prophecy. But I'm thinking, "That sure looks like prophecy to me!"

    The pastoral leadership of the church might or might not say that there are people with the gift of healing today but in fact I am on the elder board and quite often at the beginning of an elder meeting we'll lay hands on someone and anoint someone with oil in prayer for healing according to James 5. God sometimes answers those prayers in wonderful, and I would say miraculous ways.

    So what is very important is people's day-by-day walk with God and whether that is a vital, personal, ongoing relationship in which people, ordinary Christians, are regularly praying about concerns and events in their lives and getting answers to prayers and knowing the reality of the Holy Spirit's guidance and direction. What's also important is people depending on the Lord in seeking His blessing and empowering in their ministries.

    So how important is it? Some of the things that go on would be called by other names in more charismatic churches and they probably would be a bit more demonstrative. But the Holy Spirit can work in such a variety of ways.

    Find the remainder of the interview here:

    http://www.challies.com/archives/001518.php
     
  2. PastorSBC1303

    PastorSBC1303
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2003
    Messages:
    15,125
    Likes Received:
    0
  3. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 4, 2001
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    0
    The other interview with Sam Waldron is also good. Read both interviews.
     
  4. qwerty

    qwerty
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2001
    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    0
    from the Wayne Grudem interview, part 2

    Is it possible to believe in a continuationist position without having experienced any of the gifts?

    I encounter students and pastors all the time who say "I'm not persuaded by the cessationist arguments from Scripture but I've never seen any of these miraculous things in my life." That is the most common comment that I hear about these things from people who are in mainstream Evangelical positions. And over the years as I've taught not only here at Phoenix Seminary but at other seminaries - adjunct at other seminaries - by far the most common view expressed among seminary graduates is open but cautious. They say "I'm not convinced by the cessationist arguments but I really don't know how to put these things into practice in my own church and I've never seen them happen." Tim, the cessationist argument is not winning the day in terms of exegetical arguments or persuasiveness in the books published. I think it's appealing to a smaller and smaller group of people.
     
  5. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2001
    Messages:
    5,120
    Likes Received:
    20
    From the Waldron interview, part 1

     
  6. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 4, 2001
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    0
    Grudem's position hangs on making a substantive distinction between NT apostles and prophets. He says that NT apostles are the equivalent of OT prophets. NT prophets are something entirely different.

    For Grudem, a NT prophet can be prompted by the Spirit to speak, but what he speaks won't necessarily be without error or authoritative.

    It seems to me that Grudem's position is a cessationist position, with a few definitions changed. Obviously it isn't ... and I haven't studied it in depth. But he is changing a key definition right here.
     
  7. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2001
    Messages:
    5,120
    Likes Received:
    20
    Go here for the rest of the discussion by Waldron: Tongues! Signs! Wonders! An Interview with Dr. Sam Waldron (Part 2)

    I'm not sure where PastorSBC1303 might want to go with this discussion, so I hope I don't send it off in the wrong direction. But especially the above question asked of Waldron brings up something of which I am curious.

    It seems to me that a lot of Baptists historically have been cessationists in regard to tongues, miracles, etc., while holding positions of varying degrees concerning the leadership of the Spirit (which might near that of Piper & Grudem). I often hear "the Lord led me to..."

    If one is truly cessationist: Is there really any leadership of the Holy Spirit apart from the word of God (the Bible)? Does God by His Spirit "speak" to us in "leadings", "signs", feelings, providence, etc.? Or are we solely left up to make decisions based on principles we find in His Word? I say principles because it is obvious that the Word doesn't speak specifically to certains details in our life.

    For example, there are Bible principles that speak to the kind of wife I should seek and marry. But I couldn't look in the Bible and it tell me "You should make K----- H----- your wife."

    The Bible makes many principles and practices clear for New Testament churches. But it doesn't tell a church, "You should call X----- Z----- to be your pastor." Or to the preacher it doesn't say, "You should accept the call of Xcellent Baptist Church as pastor."

    Is there additional guidance from the Holy Spirit on these matters? If so, does this contradict cessationism? Why or why not? If not, how do we make such decisions? Is it just a practical matter: Well K. H. is a Baptist and we have lots of things in common and I think I'll marry her. Or, Xcellent Baptist Church offers a great opportunity for my ministry; they have a parsonage and pay a decent salary. I'd love for my children to grow up there. I think I'll accept their call.

    I hope I've offered enough explanation to get my point across. I look forward to the responses.

    PastorSBC1303, if I'm sidetracking the thread, let me know and I can start another thread for this.
     
  8. PastorSBC1303

    PastorSBC1303
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2003
    Messages:
    15,125
    Likes Received:
    0
    Not at all. I think this is a worthwhile track to examine in this thread.

    I do not have the time at the moment, but I will think through the issues you have raised and post my response.

    I am looking forward to hearing from others and what they think...
     
  9. Paul of Eugene

    Paul of Eugene
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2001
    Messages:
    2,782
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have definately been instructed by the spirit of God to do something from time to time - but not very often. Far more frequently its a matter of obviousness what to do and a matter of fairly free choice what to do . . .
     
  10. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 4, 2001
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    0
    rlvaughn,

    That is Grudem's point. He calls that prophecy. I am not convinced that is what NT prophecy was. I think your description is substantively different than the sign gifts. But I agree in principle with the cessastionist position you describe. It is what Gary Friesen describes in his book "Decision Making and the Will of God."
     
  11. PastorSBC1303

    PastorSBC1303
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2003
    Messages:
    15,125
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think this is pretty much accurate. You do find a lot of the "the Lord led me to..." and there needs to be a sound way of dealing with these situations. I think too often we take the easy road out and say ...it is all wrong or it is all right without really digging into what is really happening, and what is really right in God's mind.

    I think if one is a true cessationist then they have to come to the point eventually that there is no leadership apart from Scripture. This is the major problem I have with being a cessationist. I cannot agree on this point. I think the Lord does lead us at times apart from Scripture. Prayer, circumstances, other people all come into play in these instances. As I read through the book of Acts I find people being led by the Holy Spirit in times when they are not just reading Scripture.

    Part of the problem here in my mind is that we have become so afraid of the excesses of many pentecostals/charismatics that we have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Whether some like to admit it or not there is a subjective part of the Christian experience. That makes some uncomfortable.
     
  12. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 4, 2001
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    0
    I would respond to you as well, that I wonder if that is really a refutation of cessationism? Have cessationists ever denied a leading of the Spirit that is not directly through his word? I don't think so.

    I do think many are pretty loose in "the Lord led me" kind of theology. They have no real distinction between that and continuation. But I am not sure that is necessary. I think the Lord can lead us without the continuation of the sign gifts, through his word working in our conscience and circumstances.
     
  13. PastorSBC1303

    PastorSBC1303
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2003
    Messages:
    15,125
    Likes Received:
    0
    I am not saying it is a refutation of cessationism. I am just giving the reasons why I do not call myself a cessationist.

    If you are a true cessationist, do you not have to come to the point of claiming that the only guidance can come from God's Word in Scripture?

    I think the Lord can lead us without the continuation of sign gifts as well. I also think that much of the junk we see today being claimed as sign gifts is pure trash and not of God. But I am not ready to say it has completely ceased either.

    I have never been able to see in Scripture a basis for ceasing. The only passage that supposedly deals with it is 1 Cor 13, but that is a real stretch.
     
  14. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 4, 2001
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    0
    As far as I have ever heard, a cessationist simply argues that the sign gifts have ceased. I don't think cessationism claims that "the only guidance can come from God's word." There is a clear distinction between Scripture and other guidance, such as circumstances, wisdom living, etc.

    Perhaps we (I) need to figure out what everyone else who claims cessationism is saying. With respect to direction, I am in agreement with Friesen, in the main. Have you read him? Is he a cessationist?
     
  15. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2001
    Messages:
    5,120
    Likes Received:
    20
    I may have confused the issue a little with the term "if one is truly cessationist". But that seems to be little of what Tim was getting at in his questioning. "...how God speaks to us, how God guides us through life, how does that differ between a strict cessationist versus someone who believes in the continuing gifts?" and "...they still will say that 'God told me' or 'God stirred by heart.' Is it incompatible with cessationism to feel that God is using subjective stirrings of the heart or some type of prompting?"

    Waldron is quite careful in answering:

    PastorSBC1303:
    PastorSBC, that is the impression I got that Tim Challies was asking in his question. Waldron was careful in his answer, but ultimately, if I understand him correctly, he is leaving a little room for such guidance.

    I would consider myself a cessationist, believing that revelation, miraculous gifts, tongues, etc., ceased with or near the close of the apostolic era and the completion of the inspired Word of God. Yet I personally don't feel that a direct leadership of believers by the Spirit contradicts my position. Because this leadership is subjective, in my belief system the leadership must be confirmed by the principles of the Word to determine whether it is of God, self, or other sources.

    I agree that we have probably overreacted so as to not be remotely associated with any of this. I wonder if the fundamentalist fight against modernism didn't also inadvertantly bring in among Baptists a tendency to credit all the work of the Spirit to the Word only. Just a thought, I haven't researched that area for evidence.

    Pastor Larry:
    I haven't read Friesen. I read quite a few "How to know the Will of God" type books when I was a young beginning minister and very seldom found them helpful. I don't say that as a condemnation of Friesen (since I haven't read his book), but simply offer that as an explanation of why I haven't glanced toward any books of that nature since. Could you perhaps give us a quote to sample what he is saying? Thanks.
     
  16. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 4, 2001
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    0
    RL,

    I agree with what you presented Waldron as saying, and that was what I picked up from reading the interview with him. I wonder how substnatively different that is from Grudem. I know it is, but I am not sure how much, since I haven't studied them in depth.

    Friesen's book was widely condemned when I was growing up. Then I read it about 8 years ago or so, and it confirmed some conclusions I had been coming to. At points in the book, I found myself laughing out loud at how well he was describing my life and the paralysis that decisions brought (and still do sometimes).

    His main point is that God has a moral will revealed in Scripture and any decision made within that moral will is acceptable to God. He says, "In nonmoral decisions, the objective of the Christian is to make wise decisions on the basis of spiritual expediency." He goes a little further than I would go, I think, but he rejects the idea that there is a "dot" in teh center of God's will that we have to find. He says there is a circle and we have freedom in that circle.

    We have to be careful in praying "for God's leadership" in terms of what we are actually asking for.

    But that's probably getting off topic of the issue here. I might pull that book out again and read it. It helped me a lot the first time. I might change my evaluation the second time.
     
  17. PastorSBC1303

    PastorSBC1303
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2003
    Messages:
    15,125
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have not read Friesen either. I will have to check out his book.

    In the past I have been closer to be a cessatoinist than I am at the moment. I just do not see it clearly in Scripture. Guys, help me out what am I missing?
     
  18. PastorSBC1303

    PastorSBC1303
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2003
    Messages:
    15,125
    Likes Received:
    0
  19. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 4, 2001
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    0
    Cessationism, I believe, is clearly supported by looking at the purposes of the sign gifts (particularly Heb 2:4). They existed to confirm the apostolic message. With the close of the NT, we know what the apostolic message was. The sign gifts serve no purpose.
     
  20. PastorSBC1303

    PastorSBC1303
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2003
    Messages:
    15,125
    Likes Received:
    0
    Does not seem so clear to me. If it is so clear why is there so much disagreement?

    Hebrews 2:4 says "God also testified to the gospel with signs, wonders, and various miracles, and gifts of the HS distributed according to His will." I agree this is about the purpose. This passage does not speak of the need for these to cease. Does it? If this was to cease, why would God not make it clear in His Word?

    Is there any Scriptural support for these to cease?
     

Share This Page

Loading...