Topic: The Cessation of the Charismata: AD 70 or Future?
Richard Jackson’s Final Affirmative
Attention Webmasters, YouTube and FaceBook posters: You are welcome to post this debate on your sites, as long as you post the entirety of the debate, without alterations of any kind. Christian ethics demand that you honor this practice. This is copyrighted material. Please notify us if you post this debate, and provide a link to our websites when you post.
Don K. Preston
‘JESUS CHRIST IS THE SAME YESTERDAY, AND TODAY, AND FOREVER'(Heb.13:8)
Christian greetings & Christ’s rich blessings to my friend & opponent in this discussion, to the debate moderators, & to the reading audience in general…both those have sent thoughtful emails…& you rascals who love to send rather unchristian notes. May your elders look over your shoulders some day & catch you in the act!
My third & final presentation has been condensed from the original. The original disappeared & could not be recovered. I apologize in advance for this shorter & modified version.
ARGUMENT #1 SUMMARIZED…IN THE LAST DAYS THE SPIRIT EMPOWERS ALL BELIEVERS WITH MIRACULOUS MANIFESTATIONS IN FULFILLMENT OF OLD TESTAMENT HOPE
The church of Christ which began on Pentecost was the beginning of the fulfillment of an Old Testament hope regarding the twofold work of the Spirit in the last days. This anticipated operation of God’s Spirit would be that of inner transformation(regeneration/indwelling) followed closely with subsequent encounters with the Spirit(filling)necessary for equipping the believer for spiritual service & ministry. The term ‘Last Days’ is a biblical time period beginning with the first coming of Christ & extends throughout this present age, & is terminated only by the final Coming of Christ to this world, a cosmic event which closes out this present age. The Last Days is to be characterized by an outpouring of God’s Spirit upon His people in charismatic power(Joel 2 & Acts 2). New Testament congregations were blessed with this ongoing supernatural ministry of God the Holy Spirit in miracles & spiritual gifts & received instructions as to their proper function in the local church(1 Cor. 12-14). Mr. Preston retires the Holy Ghost to heaven in the first century & insists that the age of miracles is past. This view of the Spirit’s ministry is the result of bad theology. There is no essential difference in in this age of grace between the apostolic period & now. We are the same body of Christ… we have the same life & power. No divine discontinuance of miracles & spiritual gifts was anticipated during the present age. If the Spirit’s working of the miraculous begins to diminish in the post apostolic period…it is man’s unbelief & sin, & the churches own corruption which has made it so. But more on the post-apostolic at the proper time.
In the scriptures, the ‘last Days’ are the latter stage of this present age. The prevailing circumstances which identify this time period were beginning to appear even in the apostolic church…but evidently greatly increase in scope & intensity as we approach the closing period of this present age. Thus we understand that although the ‘Last Days’ include the entire period of time between the two advents of Christ…there is a sense in which the term ‘last Days’ as used by the apostles refers to the latter stage of the last Days…the closing period of this present age(1 Tim. 4, 2 Tim 3 2 Pet. 3).
The Old Covenant of law ended in this time period of the last days…at the cross(Rom 10). Mr. Preston somehow extends the Mosaic covenant beyond the cross work of Christ to 70 A.D…but all apostolic writers clearly set forth the crucifixion of Christ as THE EVENT which ended the Old Covenant of Law for the believer(Rom 10, Heb. 8 9 & 10, 2 Cor. 3). It becomes clear that the New Covenant had been established in the coming of Christ, in His death & resurrection…& that the Old Covenant of Law(& Jewish Age)ended at the cross. It is the cross of Christ which ended the old & established the new. IT IS THIS(the cross work of Jesus)which marks the greatest & most important turning point in the moral history of mankind. God’s judgment upon Jerusalem in A.D. 70 certainly put an outward & visible end to Judaism & it’s temple centered worship, priesthood & laws…but no christian(Jew or Gentile)were in any sense under the law until Jerusalem’s destruction. The Jewish age of law had been abolished & done away in Christ…& the christian age began at Pentecost, not A.D. 70! The church had become dead to the law(a term which stands for the Old Covenant)through the body of Christ(Rom. 7). That which was abolished at the cross was the covenant of law & thus the Jewish age, & it was there & then(not 40 years later)the Mosaic Covenant of Law was set aside to make way for a ‘new way'(Heb 10:20’ a ‘new covenant'(Heb.8:13), & a ‘new ministration'(2 Cor. 3:8). It is crystal clear that the WHOLE MOSAIC SYSTEM ENDED AT THE CROSS & THAT IT WAS THIS EVENT TO WHICH THE APOSTLES POINT AS THE TRUE TURNING POINT OF THE TWO AGES(lAW/GRACE).
Watch carefully. The law was given by Moses but grace & truth came by Jesus Christ(Jn 1:17). You are(now)not under the(Age of)law, but under grace(Rom 6:14)). What does this mean but that they were then & there under the merciful dispensation of the gospel(Wesley). The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster(Gal. 3). You are also become dead to the law by the body of Christ(Rom. 6)). Now are we delivered from the law(Rom 7:6). That which was done away was glorious(2 Cor. 3:11). Jesus abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances & blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, & took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross(Col. 2)). For the law made nothing perfect but the bringing in of a better hope(Heb. 7:19). These describe the relationship of the believer to old Judaism by virtue of Christ’s death. Mr. Preston would have you believe that Christ’s Kingship, His priesthood, the New Covenant, His atoning sacrifice, His gospel…the establishment of the church & the christian age was not completed until A.D. 70. Away with this obsessive prophetical nonsense. The scriptures are clear that ALL OF THE ABOVE HAD BEEN COMPLETED PRIOR TO 70 A.D. THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD. But lets move on.
Christianity was born, & Judaism died in the life, death, & resurrection of Jesus the Christ. Preterism’s artificial extension of the Jewish age another 40 years beyond the life & death of Christ to A.D.68-70 is simply an unnecessary doctrinal innovation to fit a new & novel order of things relative to the historic doctrine of the Visible & Personal Second Coming of Christ to this world. A close examination of Preterism reveals that it fails scripture, it fails tradition, & it fails reason.
ARGUMENT #2 SUMMARIZED…SIGNS & WONDERS SHALL FOLLOW THEM THAT BELIEVE
Believers are promised supernatural & specialized abilities in connection with effectual testimony to the gospel, for the blessing & edification of the spiritual community the church, & for personal enrichment(Mk.16, 1 Cor. 12-14). New Testament congregations were fully functioning charismatic communities & are the pattern, & not the exception, for the corporate worship of God through Christ in the church of Christ today. The apostle encouraged congregations to ‘desire earnestly spiritual gifts’, & that ‘ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, & all may be exhorted(1 Cor. 14:30-
33). Miracles & spiritual gifts were never a substitute for the written word of the apostles. The apostles taught the same things they later wrote. The cannon scripture as we know it was not even anticipated by the apostles of Christ…& thus i will prejudge Don’s view on this matter of miracles & spiritual gifts vs. the scriptures as a form of ‘biblical idolatry’. Apostolic inscripturated revelation is distinct from the ‘prophetic utterance’ in the church, which was never considered equal to apostolic revelation whether oral or written. Hence said Paul…’all may prophecy’ & let the others discern(1 Cor. 14:29). This qualification would not apply to the appointed apostolic company whose authority & ministry was unique to the foundational church.
Mr. Preston believes that the signs following believers & all spiritual gifts would be good until the Second Coming of Christ & to the end of the world. I agree completely. But Christ came & the end came…in the first century. You see…once bitten by this preterist bug, everything must thereafter be run through this time machine.
According to Don(in the commission according to Matthew)…when Christ promised His unchanging presence & power to the church until the ‘end of the age’…His promised presence to the church was good only until A.D. 70 because EVERY TIME THE EXPRESSION ‘END OF THE AGE’ APPEARS IT MUST BE SPEAKING OF 70 A.D AND THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM. But here is one example where the end of the age goes beyond time itself…to the very end & consummation of this present age & dispensation of the gospel of God’s grace. The biblical expressions ‘age’, ‘this present age’, ‘the age which is to come ‘the coming ages’, & ‘end of the age’ have several possible applications & become a problem for Hyper-Preterism in that NOT ALL TEXTS CAN BE TORTURED TO MEAN & ONLY MEAN THE FIRST CENTURY DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM. To be ‘consistent’, however, the good & faithful preterist must find a first century fulfillment to ALL END TIME LANGUAGE…EVEN IF THE CONTEXT IS SUGGESTIVE OF SOMETHING FAR DISTANT. The promised presence of Christ to the church is but one example of how the ‘end of the age’ signifies duration viewed in relation to the events spoken of…CHRIST WITH US UNTIL THE CLOSE OF THE PRESENT AGE. But here is more.
It has been universally understood that the commission to evangelize the world applies to all believers throughout all time…not to those of that generation only…a common principle of scripture language. Thus it will do no good for Don to insist that this commission applies to the apostles only…& even if it did…wouldn’t the presence of Christ continue with them beyond A.D.70? The reading audience must know that the expression ‘end of the age’ used here & elsewhere can at times intertwine both a near & partial fulfillment…which may serve as a symbol & foreshadowing of more distant events which give a more exhaustive application to the prophetic word. When Don views the events of A.D. 70 as fulfilling such expressions as the ‘end of the age’ he simply does not give the word of God it’s fullest prophetic expression.
If one wants to see in the the Jewish Wars a ‘coming of Christ’ in judgment, & an ‘end to an age’…that is perfectly acceptable provided these are seen as foreshadowing the universal divine wrath upon the whole world at the Visible & Personal Coming of Christ at the end of time(Matt. 24:30&31, 25:31). The weakness of preterism can be seen in these very things. No one saw Christ Coming in the clouds of heaven with power & great glory to judge the nations in A.D. 70. Nor can it be said that all the nations of the earth were ‘represented’ at that time. The time of the siege & destruction of Jerusalem was horrible, but the vision Jesus paints is much larger in scope to that of this one nations fall. Do we take the words of Christ literally Don? ‘And if those days had not been cut short, NO HUMAN BEING WOULD BE SAVED'(Matt. 24:22 ESV). Well what about it? You know good & well God’s judgment upon Jerusalem is manifestly not the event here referred to by the Son of God…IF IN CONTEXT HIS WORDS MEAN WHAT THEY SAY.
Now back to my argument. The living presence & power of Christ in supernatural activity(healing, prophecy, tongues)is released through the believer according to Mark Chapter 16. How long? Until the end of age. Which age? The age in which we are now living…the church age or age of grace. Marks testimony is simple. Signs follow those who believe the message of the gospel. In Christ’s Name believers participate in the Holy Spirit’s power for personal & church life reasons. All early christian churches were charismatic communities in which the living presence of Christ was a continuing reality. If Don is wrong is stating that the end of the world occurred in the first century…& he is…& since he admits that miracles & spiritual gifts were to remain in the church until Jesus comes…& he’s right…& if Jesus did not come after the manner & way in which Don so believes(spiritual, invisible, & unknown)…then i say to him to repent for retiring the Holy Ghost to heaven in the first century…& open his heart to all that Christ has to offer him & to the church of which he is a member.
ARGUMENT #3 SUMMARIZED…MIRACLES & GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ACCOMPANY THE PROCLAMATION OF THE GOSPEL…
The gospel is to be proclaimed with signs & wonders to all generations…not to the first generation of believers only. I asked Mr. Preston…in the Name of all that is holy…what disadvantage did that first generation have which required the living presence of Christ to be associated with the preaching of the gospel to them alone? Why does christian theology wish to confine the power & presence of the living Christ to the first century only? If there was ever a generation of skeptical disbelief due to the hardness of the human heart…it is NOW. Faith indeed comes by the hearing of the word of God(Rom. 10:17)), but Paul’s preaching of the word of the gospel was not with ‘persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit & power: that your faith(by the word)should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God'(1 Cor. 2:4&5). Why would God not bear witness to the testimony of Jesus Christ His Son today ‘by signs & wonders & various miracles & by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will(Heb. 2:4 ESV). Miracles ultimately confirm Jesus & the message about Jesus…they were not granted for the purpose of confirming the apostles or their associates.
Mr Preston will say there is no need for miracles & spiritual gifts to accompany the gospel today. So he says. But in this present age of spiritual darkness…i maintain that a verbal proclamation of the facts of the gospel without attesting confirmations is insufficient to evangelize this world for Christ & His gospel.
But then again, Don’s doctrine of Pantelism destroys the need for ANY GOSPEL PREACHING TODAY. Christ came in A.D. 70, raised the dead & translated the living saints, judged the world, & established the Kingdom of God in the earth, heaven is now…& we are living in the endless age of the New Creation. Evidently the only thing left for Don to do is to convince others of his preteristic fantasies! And his pen has been busy these last few years(see Amazon.com & Don K. Preston).
My third argument begs the reader to reconsider the purpose of the miraculous associated either in the ministry of Christ, or in the evangelism of the New Testament church. Countless scholars over the last century have noted that ‘power’ evangelism is the normative form of evangelism seen in the New Testament. They often point out that miraculous healing, signs, & wonders…& manifestations of spiritual gifts accompanied preaching on a regular basis, & was t
he standard form of gospel preaching practiced by our Lord, & by the apostles, & Early Church Laity(Stephen, Philip, Ananias, the Corinthians, Galatians, Jewish Christian churches, etc).
‘The age of miracles’ is not past. The word of God never indicated a diminishing or discontinuance of supernatural signs following those who believe. ‘On the contrary, they are to be among the signs of the Last Days; & the very adversary himself is to counterfeit them, & send forth(at the last)spirits of devils working miracles, unto the Kings of the earth, so that the only defense against the false miracles will be the true. We are in the age of miracles, the age of Christ, the age which lies between two advents…& underneath the eye of a ceaseless divine presence, the age of power, the age which above all other ages of time should be intensely alive'(A.B. Simpson).
ARGUMENT #4 & #5 SUMMARIZED…MIRACLES & SPIRITUAL GIFTS ARE FOR THE CHURCH TODAY BECAUSE OF THE INCREDIBLE POWER OF PERSONAL PRAYER UNTO HIM WHO IS THE SAME YESTERDAY AND TODAY AND FOREVER…
In a public debate with a brother from Texas…in our exchange of questions, i asked him what would it take for him to change his theology on miracles & gifts of the Holy Ghost. His reply was…JUST SHOW ME ONE! Ah ha! So his belief regarding miracles in the church was based…NOT ON SCRIPTURE STATEMENTS…BUT ON THE ABSENCE OF THE MIRACULOUS IN HIS LIFE, HIS MINISTRY, & IN THE CHURCH OF WHICH HE IS A MEMBER. I fear this is the case with everyone of us who were fed good old reformation theology relative to the ministry of God the Holy Spirit in the early church vs. what is available to the contemporary church. This preacher had never seen the power of God demonstrated through prayer. Therefore what had been his experience… must be the experience of all believers the world over! But more importantly was his admission that the common church of Christ view of the purpose & function of miracle is BASED ON PERSONAL EXPERIENCE… & NOT THE SCRIPTURES. If not, why would he be willing to change his theology on the basis of an experience? Because deep down, he knew, that the scriptures do not REALLY teach a divine discontinuance of the charismata in the first century. Nope. It was merely the absence of the same in HIS experience which was the REAL reason behind his cessasionist theology.
My argument is twofold. Part one is the Power of Prayer. What do the scriptures teach regarding christian prayer? What may we expect from prayer? What can be set in motion through prayer? Is God limited in the way in which He answers prayer? Does the idea of prayer contain within itself ‘miracle potential’? What did Jesus say of the possibilities of prayer? Or the apostle Paul & others in the early church? Does our sin, unbelief, & faithlessness affect our prayers in any way? Does God work miracles in answer to prayer?
Christian prayer as presented in the scriptures releases the power of Christ into every life circumstance…& when necessary…opens the door to the miraculous.
Prayer is communion with the Living Christ. It is conscious contact with a power greater than ourselves. A higher view of prayer & it’s blessed possibilities flies in the face of dead religiousity. The words of the divine Christ on prayer & faith forever seals the issue of the perpetuity of the miraculous…for He says that the prayer of faith releases the power of God into the believers experience…with the blessed assurance that with God all things all possible. And here, as is often the case in scripture, these wonderful words of Christ are spoken to all generations of believers…not to first century disciples only. This is the way of scripture so that the power & presence of Christ becomes a vital reality in the church throughout all stages of the churches existence on earth. And did not Christ tell those living at the beginning of the gospel age to go & make disciples of all nations, baptizing them & TEACHING THEM TO OBSERVE ALL THAT I HAVE COMMANDED YOU? Our Lord’s words on the power of prayer can be believed & received in every generation of the church, even to the end of the present age.
And so what are those ageless teachings of Christ relative to prayer’s possibilities?
‘…If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move, & nothing will be impossible to you'(Matt 17:20 ESV). “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith'(Matt. 21:22 ESV). ‘All things are possible to him who believes(Mark 9:23 NASV). ‘These(supernatural)signs shall follow them that believe(Mk. 16:17 KJV). ‘He that believeth on me the works that i do shall he do also…(Jn. 14:12 KJV). ‘And whatsoever ye shall ask in my Name, that will i do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my Name, I will do it(Jn 14:13 KJV). Mark’s slightly different wording of the Savior’s promise gives assurance that these revelations of Christ on the power of faith & prayer are true of ‘whosoever’ will believe these things!
‘FOR VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, THAT WHOSOEVER SHALL SAY UNTO THIS MOUNTAIN, BE THOU REMOVED, & BE THOU CAST INTO THE SEA; & SHALL NOT DOUBT IN HIS HEART, BUT SHALL BELIEVE THAT THOSE THINGS WHICH HE SAITH SHALL COME TO PASS; HE SHALL HAVE WHATSOEVER HE SAITH. THEREFORE IS SAY UNTO YOU, WHAT THINGS SOEVER YE DESIRE, WHEN YE PRAY, BELIEVE THAT YE RECEIVE THEM, & YE SHALL HAVE THEM'(Mk. 11:23-24 KJV).
I am fully aware that the purpose of prayer is to advance the will of Christ in the life of the individual believer, in the church, & in the world. A careful study of prayer reveals necessary conditions required of prevailing prayer…but, when these conditions are earnestly fulfilled…& that for which we ask is divinely promised…then asking according to the will of God & receiving by the will of God becomes a daily delight! Faith begins where the will of God is known, & we can only ask for that which God has promised. And a searching of the scriptures reveals a Living Christ who is Himself the power of God to us who believe. This would include a manifestation of processes not understood by us(miracle)if the situation demanded it.
This expectant attitude to receive what God has promised is the spirit of faith in which the church should be bathed…a deep & abiding conviction of faith that ‘God is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church & in Christ Jesus throughout all generations…(Eph. 3:20 ESV)…a description of the reality of the power of God in response to prayer… & for how long Paul? THROUGHOUT ALL GENERATIONS.
Inspiration says that JESUS CHRIST IS THE SAME YESTERDAY AND TODAY AND FOREVER(Heb.13:7 ESV). What does this expression mean to Don Preston? The Christ preached in most churches couldn’t heal a broken heart! The Bible is not history, it’s HIS STORY. It is living & vital. It works when you believe Him. If the above declaration is true, then i should expect Christ to walk right out of the pages of the Bible & become for me everything He was to those who received Him then. And this has become my experience of Christ. What He said, He says. What He did, He does. And who He was, He is. He is not the great I WAS, BUT THE GREAT I AM. And this very fact alone…JESUS CHRIST THE SAME YESTERDAY AND TODAY AND FOREVER…gives my heart all the assurance i need relative to the continuance of miracle today. The gospel knows nothing of a non-miraculous Christ. Thus i maintain that real prayer to God through Jesus Christ who is the same today as he was yesterday establishes my proposition.
Thus i maintain that real prayer to God the Father through Jesus Christ who is the same today as He was yesterday establishes my proposition. And may i add…that if the sk
eptics & unbelievers of today, had lived in Bible days, the age of miracles would have never begun!(Matt: 13:57&58). No offense intended(smile).
ARGUMENT #6 SUMMARIZED…MIRACLES & GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ARE FOR THE CHURCH TODAY BECAUSE THE HOLY SPIRIT’S ACTIVITY IN THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH DID NOT CHANGE DRAMATICALLY AFTER THE FIRST CENTURY…
My final argument puts to a permanent rest the cessasionist position regarding miracles & spiritual gifts…for if it can be shown that spiritual gifts remained active in the christian church beyond the first century, then Don’s view of the matter & his anti-miracle mentality is purely a theological construct…with no real basis in scripture. Mr. Preston tows the bible behind him to justify what HIS EXPERIENCE LED HIM TO BELIEVE. The absence of miracles & spiritual gifts(charismata)in his christian experience is the true basis as to why he believes God the Holy Spirit retired from active ministry in the first century. Now prayerfully consider the following.
I will ask & answer two questions. Did the ‘charismata’ enumerated by the apostle in 1 Corinthians 12 remain active in the church after the first century? And if the evidence shows that they did remain active…were these signs & wonders & spiritual gifts vitally related to the proclamation of the gospel in the post apostolic church?
A church of Christ scholar has commented that ‘the commonly conceived view of the breakdown of the charismata(in the first century)needs considerable emendation’. And again, ‘a careful & specific study of selected texts century in particular(as being closest to the Apostolic period)and of the Anti-Nicene period in general will show that this later period was not so destitute of spiritual gifts as has been sometimes thought'(J. McRay/Harding Graduate School of Religion).
Those who lived nearest in time to the apostles felt themselves endowed with that same Spirit of God that inspired the apostles. Clement of Rome wrote “through the Holy Spirit” to the Corinthians(1 Clement 63:2). Ignatius spoke “with God’s own voice” to the Philidelphians & when his genuiness was questioned he further asserted that the “Spirit was preaching”(Philadelphians 7. 1,2). The Lord “revealed” some things to Ignatius(Ephesians 20.2). Like Paul, he conceives himself to be “born out of due season”, a phrase used by Paul of his apostleship(1 Cor. 15:8). And just as Paul wrote to the Corinthians so Ignatius writes to the Smyrnaeans & to Polycarp that they “come behind in no charisma(Smyrnaeans, Introduction; to Polycarp 2.2). Clearly then, for Ignatius, miracles & gifts of the Holy Spirit were still available to the church in the second century.
And what of Gregory Thaumaturgus((CA. 213-270), who became a student of the famous Alexandrian theologian, Origen, under whose tutelage he bacame a devout Christian. His ministry to his native Neo-caesarea is commented on by at least 4 of the Church Fathers, & one of Gregories spiritual descendants…Basil of Cappadocia who wrote the now famous work, ‘On the Holy Spirit’ argues that Gregory should be placed among the apostles & prophets as a person who walked by the same Spirit as they(Basil of Cappadocia, ‘On the Holy Spirit 74) Basil reports that Gregory was so spiritually gifted that his evangelism was dramatically successful.
The life & times of Gregory Thaumaturgus(213-270 A.D.), his spiritual descendant Basil of Cappadocia(330-379 A.D.), Agustine of Hippo(354-430 A.D.), & Gregory the Great (540-604 A.D.)…clearly establish a belief in the continuing practice of the continuing reality of the charismata in Christ’s church beyond the alleged discontinuance taught by my opponent in this debate.
Justin Martyr wrote(A.D. 150-165)”And now we who believe on our Lord Jesus, who was crucified under Pontius Pilot, when we exprcise all demons & evil spirits, have them subjected to us(Dialog 76)). This power over demons “followed & is still following the dispensation of His sufferings”(Dialog 31.1). “Even now the devils are overthrown by men through the Name of Jesus Christ”(Dialog). And Justin states in his discussion with Trypho, “the prophetical gifts remain with us even to the present time…(the gifts)formerly among your nations(the Jews)have been transferred to us(christians)”(Dialog 82.1). Like Ignatius & Paul, Justin remarks regarding the possession of charismata that “we are in no sense deficient”…using the identical terminology of Paul.
The writings of Tertullian(A.D. 197-225) furnish a considerable indication of the belief in continuing charismata at this time. Church historian Eusebius, when commenting on the Montanist movement which continued to advocate the gift of prophecy into the fifth century… & note that Eusebius does not deny the existence of such gifts, but wishes to correct the non-traditional manner in which they were being exercised.(Eusebius The Ecclesiastical History/Harvard University Press 1 475).
In summation of this necessarly brief argument…the belief in the continuance of the charismata beyond the apostolic age is devastating to the cessasionist. The phenomena was acknowledged to have existed among the heretic & orthodox alike. The passages dealing with the gifts, however, are not as clear & full as we could wish nor are they always convincing. However, there is suffcient information extant to warrant the conclusion that the ante-Nicene church(or at least that part of it represented by the available literature)believed that miracles & spiritual gifts were still available to them, subject as always to the will of the Spirit. Inspiration(minor), prophecy, tongues, knowledge, healing, exorcism, & more were all present in the post-apostolic church. I only wish a fuller discussion of this very topic could be done at this time. I challenge Mr. Preston to re-consider his theological bias on the ministry of the Holy Spirit to the church of Christ today ON THIS ONE ARGUMENT ALONE!
As a scholar…he must give serious attention to credible & authentic writings of the church fathers relative to the subject under discussion. DO NOT DISS THIS DON. Show this reading audience how ALL OF THESE WITNESSES ARE LIARS & FRAUDS & COUNTERFEITS. And if you can’t…repent of your teaching for doctrine the commandments of men!
I have submitted in the course of this discussion six argument in defense of the proposition that miracles & spiritual gifts are for the church today. Each argument should be considered foundational only…an introductory thought as to why i believe the scriptures teach that miracles & spiritual gifts have never ceased in the Church of Christ, & why they have continued & will continue until the Return of Christ & to the end of this present gospel age.
My proposition is the result of a prayerful & careful researching of the Bible relative to the subject under discussion. No amount of human abuse of these matters has any bearing on the reality of these matters. I am not Pentecostal/Neo Pentecostal/Charismatic/or New Wave. Labels limit & diminish. I believe the scriptures, that is all. It is my christian duty to conform my life, my beliefs, & my actions to the word of God…rather than make the word of God conform my accumulated notions. May God help us all who love His word…to remain humble & teachable, daily walking with Christ our Savior with open minds & loving hearts. Heavenly Father, this we pray in the Name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.
This debate with Mr. Preston has been real, & it has been fun, but at times it has not been REAL FUN(smile). I deeply appreciate Don’s love for Christ & His word, his godly desire to know the truth of God as it is revealed in the sacred scripture. We have not only disagreed, but from the beginning agreed to disagree, & to pray one for another & for all who read, that throughout th
is discussion the One True & Living God(Father, Son & Holy Spirit)be honored & glorified as we carefully debate those issues near & dear to our hearts.
Many thanks to you Don Preston…for reawakening within me to question & research how & why i believe what i believe, & thanks to the debate administrator’s for their kind & professional standards(& holding me to the same).
Christ’s richest blessing upon you all!