More Unconvincing Exegesis About the Spirit: Cessationism

8Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.  l When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 12:8-13

If Pentecostal two-stage baptism in the Spirit is on exegetical thin ice, then the traditional cessationist argument that spiritual gifts (charismata) no longer exist is down there with the Titanic.

1 Cor 13:8-12 says that prophecies, tongues, and knowledge will pass away “when the perfect comes” (v. 10). Faith and hope will no longer be needed when God is fully seen but love will remain.

The traditional cessationist argument has been that the ‘perfect’ means the completion of the NT canon or some puted maturity of the church around the end of the first century. The fact that this would have been incomprehensible to the Corinthians (and to Paul himself) makes this a slightly dodgy theory.

Others cessationist interpretations get even more speculative. Some acknowledge that the ‘perfect’ refers (as it obviously does) to the return of Christ, but propose that only knowledge once gained from revelatory gifts will come to an end at that time, and therefore the passage does not address when the gifts themselves will cease.

Full marks for creativity, zero for persuasiveness.

And in similiar creative (desperate?) mode others have proposed that Paul is only talking about the experience of spiritual gifts in the lives of a generation of early Christians. These gifts will cease when Jesus returns IF they are alive at that time. But if they die before he returns (which they of course did) then their spiritual gifts die with them.

? Yup, me too,

Saying there is thin to no exegetical basis for cessationism is one thing; the implications for contemporary worship is another. As Max Turner says in his Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts about what is the typical expectation / description of the Spirit life in the church

What IS normative in Scripture is that ‘Paul anticipated a lively ‘charismatic’ church in which every area of Christian life and ministry was deeply shaped by experiential awareness of the Spirit.’ [163].

Comments, as ever, welcome.

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