I posted last month about the Strange Fire Conference that was held in Southern California by a group of otherwise great bible teachers whose work has really benefited untold numbers of believers, including me. But their staunch cessationism just doesn’t line up with their usually good biblical exegesis, in my estimation. As I wrote in that post, I’ve been a continuationist for some time, largely because I can’t honestly say that I see a convincing biblical case for cessationism in the bible. There have been many times when I would have preferred to believe that God doesn’t operate in the same way now as He did in New Testament times, because I’ve encountered so many abuses. Every time someone downplays the importance of careful, diligent bible study because of our direct communion with the Holy Spirit, or somebody has some vague, subjective, untestable “word from the Lord” I want to just roll my eyes, throw my hands up and join Grace Community Church!
But I can’t ignore what I see in the Word of God. We can’t afford to have a reactionary theology.
In the aftermath of Strange Fire, a myriad of responses have been churned out all over cyberspace. Some are more compelling than others. Some are irrational, mean-spirited gibberish, while others are well-articulated counter-arguments. That’s to be expected, especially since the conference targeted a vast array of people. The heretical Word-Faith groups, the Pentecostals, the Third Wave guys, and the like were all pretty strongly rebuked. (Honestly, a lot of it was deserved and probably necessary.) The one group that seemed to get at least a little respect were the reformed charismatics, or continuationists, as the speakers preferred. To be sure, they think we’re way off base too, but at least they addressed us like thinking adults. That was nice.
You may remember that I posted a link to the transcript of one of the sermons from the conference: A Case for Cessationism, by Tom Pennington. My reason for zeroing in on that particular sermon was that it gets to the heart of the matter. The Word of God is our ultimate authority. So pointing to abuses by charismatics and quoting this famous preacher or that one only add up to so much. Can you show me that the Bible actually teaches your position?
I mentioned that I was not convinced from the sermon, and that at the end of the day, I think I’m more solidly in the continuationist camp. I also mentioned that while I’m very interested in theology and think it is vitally important, I know many people who are more theologically astute than I. One such person is Christian Edmiston, an old friend of mine who just happens to have a blog on the subject; it is appropriately titled Reformed Charismatic Theology. And he has written, at my request, a three-page response to Pennington’s sermon. I’m posting links to each part below, and I do hope you’ll take time to read them. Christian’s response is very thorough, yet straightforward and easy to read. I trust you will be edified and/or challenged.
Reformed Charismatic Theology: A Nobody Responds to Tom Pennington’s Case for Cessationism