In this issue:
- "A Note about Doctrinal Perspectives" by Raul Mock
- Excerpts from to the soon to be released Spring 2000 issue of the Pneuma Review:
- "Answering the Cessationists' Case against Continuing Spiritual Gifts" By Jon Ruthven
- From the Messianic Foundations Series by Kevin Williams, "Cheleb: The Finest"
- From "That Glorious Day When Tongues are Not Needed: Until Then . . ." Part 1, from the Praying In the Spirit series by Robert Graves
- Editorial: "The Memphis Manifesto: Five Years Later" By H. Murray Hohns
- Prayer Requests & Praise Reports
A Note about Doctrinal Perspectives
by Raul Mock, Executive Director
The Pneuma Foundation is a non-denominational organization committed to bringing balance and truth to the charismatic/Pentecostal movement by teaching God's Word with clarity and accuracy. The members of the Pneuma Foundation are from diverse traditions, and this is reflected in the editors and writers that have published materials in our journal, the Pneuma Review
, and our other publications such as the Pneuma Informer
and the Today's Biblical Issues series of pamphlets.
To illustrate this diversity that exists, we have writers that are classical Pentecostals, those that have been trained at "Word of Faith" Bible schools, those who consider themselves closely linked with the Vineyard movement, independent charismatics and those within main-line denominations, and those who are "close to embracing the theology of the Third Wave." Obviously, our views on some issues do not all agree (for example: the security of the believer and the role of women in ministry), nevertheless it is our desire to bring a unified presentation of sound Biblical teaching and theology to a vast movement that is not known for its soundness in doctrine. On issues that some of us hold differing views, our desire is to bring a forum of discussion where everyone can see more of why each of us holds these different perspectives.
Those of us who make up the Pneuma Foundation are all Evangelicals, and we believe quite strongly that in all that we do we must be getting on with the evangelical task. We believe that the power of the Holy Spirit is available today to the believer and that His power accompanies us as we live for Christ and present Him to this fallen world.
For more information about our doctrinal perspectives, see also the statement of faith
and statement of vision and purpose
Excerpts from to the soon to be released Spring 2000 issue (Vol 3. No 2) of the Pneuma Review
From "Answering the Cessationists' Case against Continuing Spiritual Gifts" by Jon Ruthven
. . .
Following Benjamin Warfield's classic cessationist work, Counterfeit Miracles
published in 1918, many today appeal to history to show the cessation of miraculous gifts. Warfield insisted that his book stood on "two legs": biblical and historical proofs. But his "legs" were grossly disproportional: probably 97% of his book stood on the historical leg, while his biblical arguments were haphazardly scattered through his pages, responding only to the biblical arguments of his opponents.
Older Pentecostals and charismatics find this odd, since our critics have often said that we base our "theology" on "experience" rather than on the word of God. Yet an appeal to "history" is actually an appeal to "experiences"--at least to those in the past. These days, the shoe is very much on the other foot: cessationists increasingly appeal to "experience" (history) while charismatics, like Jack Deere, Gordon Fee, Wayne Grudem, Gary Greig, Max Turner and John Wimber are building increasingly sophisticated biblical arguments.
Cessationists often cite horror stories in connection with charismatic manifestations, as for example, Hank Hanegraaff in his book, Counterfeit Revival
or John MacArthur in Charismatic Chaos
. Certainly the Pentecostal/charismatic movement has had its share of weirdoes. But the cessationists' ad hominum argument (against individuals rather than against the proposition) does not deal with the issue: according to Scripture, are charismatic manifestations a normative part of the Christian life today?
We have all heard the story of a Chinese missionary overhearing a Pentecostal person "cursing Christ" while speaking in tongues in Chinese, repeated like an urban legend (the poodle in the microwave; the alligators in the sewer; the disappearing hitch-hiker, etc.) for decades. The "Chinese curser" seems to be a story recycled from Alma White, Demons and Tongues
. Such negative stories can more than be matched, however, by such works as Ralph Harris's popular paperback, Spoken by the Spirit: Documented Accounts of "Other Tongues" from Arabic to Zulu
(Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Pub. House, 1973) or Albert J. Hebert, Raised from the Dead: True Stories of 400 Resurrection Miracles
(Rock-ford, IL: TAN Publications, 1986) and numerous others.
But does in fact an examination of history show that spiritual gifts and miracles ceased in the post-apostolic era? Recently, a friend of mine who taught in a traditionally cessationist seminary set out to prove that Warfield was right: that the gift of prophecy ceased after the apostles died. When he carefully examined the literature, however, he came to publish exactly the opposite conclusion! At my suggestion, he wrote another excellent piece of research showing that the early church fathers actually used 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 as proof that prophecy would continue in all the church until the end of the age. In no case, did he find that the fathers ever used 1 Cor 13:8-12 as a text to indicate the closing of the canon or the "maturity" of the church as modern cessationists have tried to do. In fact, he shows that it was the heretics who tried to use 1 Cor 13 in this way!
Many good books have been produced showing the frequent outbreak of miracles and spiritual gifts throughout church history (See also the excellent series by Richard Riss entitled "Tongues and Other Miraculous Gifts from the 2nd to 19th Centuries" which appeared in the first five issue of the Pneuma Review
, Fall 1998 (Vol 1 No 1) through Fall 1999 (Vol 2, No 4)). We will offer only three seldom-quoted examples of many hundreds available. Chapter 22 of St. Augustine's City of God
is devoted to the story of how Augustine himself became a full blown "charismatic" after being a bit of a theological cessationist. He repudiates his previous position, and provides examples of over seventy miracles he recorded in and around his churches. Augustine com-plains in section 22,8 that contemporary miracles are relative-ly unknown not because they no longer occur, but simply because of bad communication and because people are conditioned to disbelieve them. Pope Gregory VI in writing about the successful evangelism of Britain enthused: "'great miracles imitate powers of the apostles in the signs they [perform]." Much later, Luther seems to have undergone a similar conversion to that of Augustine toward the end of his life.
Martin Luther was never a shrinking violet, but at one point he sounds bolder than Kenneth Hagin! After snatching his friend, Melanchthon "from death's arms," Luther describes his incredibly aggressive prayer: "In this instance our Lord God had to pay me; for I threw the bag of concerns before his door and I dinned his ears with all of his promises as to how he desired to favorably hear our prayer-promises which I well knew how to document in Scripture! I put it to him that he had to grant my request if he expected me to continue to trust his promises!"
Until recently, as in Augustine's time, most Christians in the West have been conditioned, even by church leaders, to disbelieve and discount any contemporary miracle stories. Now, with the advent of primarily charismatic television ministries and a knee-jerk reaction against the sterile Enlightenment rationalism that has dominated Western thought, many more Americans are believing in the power of God. Thirty percent of American adults reported that they had experienced "a remarkable healing" in their lives, while a total of 78% of Americans either "believe" (27%) or 'strongly believe" (51%) that "even today miracles are performed by the power of God," only 15% somewhat disagreed or 6% strongly disagreed!
. . .
From "That Glorious Day When Tongues are Not Needed: Until Then . . ." Part 1, By Robert Graves
"Tongues shall cease." More than 1,900 years have passed since the apostle Paul penned this prediction in a letter to the Corinthians (c. AD 54), and not a few cessationists have argued that the future tense of the verb (cease) is no longer warranted-the use of the past tense is now justifiable, or so the argument goes. Anti-charismatic Robert G. Gromacki concludes his book, "'Tongues...shall cease' (1 Corinthians 13:8). They have" (p. 143). And according to cessationist George Zeller, Paul's injunction not to forbid tongues "no longer applies today" (p.104).
The Pentecostals and charismatics agree with cessationists that the charismata (spiritual gifts) as described by Paul and Luke are temporary.
The disagreement arises when one attempts to determine the factor (and thus arrive at an approximate date) responsible for the cessation of these manifestations of the Spirit. For the charismatic, Scripture, Church history, and personal experience indicate that all of the gifts are to continue through the Church Age. But for the cessationist, the prophetic, miraculous "sign" gifts ceased with the early Church. Some say the cessation was immediate; others claim it occurred over several decades, tapering off gradually.
. . .
Tongues are for a Sign
George Gardiner, Vernon Schutz, and other cessationists who believe that the sole purpose of the gift of tongues was as a sign to the Jews place incredible weight upon 1 Corinthians 14:21-22 (which quotes Isaiah 28:11-12): "In the Law it is written: 'Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me,' says the Lord. Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers." Cessationist Walter J. Chantry calls this passage the "foundation text for tongues" (p. 58). Zeller argues that Paul's use of Isaiah shows that Paul believed the only place to gain an understanding of tongues was in the Old Testament (p. 77). First Corinthians 14:22 is so central to Vander Lugt's argument that it is printed on the front cover of his book. Pfeil writes (and underlines) the following about these verses: they are "the only specific purpose statement on tongues in the entire New Testament" (p. 38).
For some cessationists, these verses, and only these, prove that tongues had a specific and singular purpose, and that purpose was to condemn unbelieving Jews. That was the raison d' etre of the gift of tongues (Judisch, pp. 41-42).
Once the singular function of tongues has been established through these verses, there is yet another step cessationists use to prove that tongues have ceased. It must be asserted that God has ended His judgment upon the Jews. We are told that this took place in AD 70 when the Roman emperor Titus leveled the Temple. Therefore, since the Jews have for all time been judged and since tongues were for only that purpose, the reason for tongues has been removed. Tongues, as Judisch writes, "pass[ed] away quietly with the smoke that arose from the temple fire" (p.43).
It cannot be established, however, that the Jews were once-and-for-all judged in AD 70; that is a theological construct, not an exegetical conclusion. Furthermore, the gift of tongues serves more than one function (see my articles in the Spring 1999 and Fall 1999 issues of the Pneuma Review
The success of the cessationist's interpretation of 1 Corinthians 14:21-22 is based upon another assertion which, I believe, has not been proven. It involves a comparison of Paul's and Isaiah's words.
An attempt to match up Paul and Isaiah point-for-point reveals a major weakness. For example, in Isaiah the "words of judgment" are spoken by an invading pagan army; in Paul, they are spoken by Corinthian Christians. In Isaiah the speakers, who represented God's judgment, would speak learned Assyrian; in Paul, the speech was an unlearned, unknown language. A strict point-for-point representation was not Paul's intention. Rather, Paul is saying that just as the strange words of another people would not be of benefit to unbelieving Jews, so your charismatic tongues are of no benefit to unbelievers who enter your meetings.
Furthermore, in his use of Isaiah, Paul does not quote the original Hebrew, nor does he quote the Septuagint, its Greek translation. This, along with the incongruous parallels already noted, argues for a very loose and, thus, general correspondence between the two passages. It seems that Paul just wanted to capture the idea of the uselessness of everyone speaking in other tongues when unbelievers were present. Because of the tenuous nature of the cessationist argument from 1 Corinthians 14:21-22, other arguments have been posed. One that has gained acceptance among non-charismatics considers tongues a sign of apostolic certification. Cessationists have attempted to link tongues inextricably with the office of apostleship, reasoning that if they can prove that apostleship has ceased, they have dismissed tongues also.
. . .
From the Messianic Foundations series, "Cheleb: The Finest" by Kevin Williams
. . .
One of the most important lessons for us in Abel's sacrifice is that he was expressing sacrificial love. He was willing to give his first and finest to the Almighty. His sacrifice was accepted not because of its components or ritual, not on the basis of works, but because of the condition of Abel's heart. It is in this regard that the Old Testament reminds us, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."
"But for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell" (Gen. 4:5).
Most English translations render chara as "angry," but it can very appropriately be translated as "depressed." We do not find in Cain's offering the same zeal that we do in Abel's. In fact, we could say that Cain was merely going through the motions without the deep conviction, without the broken spirit, or contrite heart.
When one "goes through the motions," there is a lack of satisfaction. Whether we are talking about work, about family life, about church life, or about pastoring a congregation; if your heart is not in it, there is no satisfaction to be derived.
Without satisfaction it is easier for the Adversary to plant "ill" thoughts and imaginations that lead to depression, anger, and eventually sin. Our interests become less focused on others and become increasingly internalized.
Depressed people find themselves saying things like, "If only . . . ," or "Why doesn't anyone ever . . .?" or the granddaddy of them all, "No one cares about me or my needs." This frame of mind can become spiritually cannibalistic, making everything seem distant and meaningless because "I'm" not being ministered to.
If Cain was simply going through the motions, lacked satisfaction, and saw Abel's successes, he may very well have slumped into a self-centered depression.
Now you or I would probably load accolades on Abel, the nice boy, the good boy, and might leave Cain to his own devises. But this is not what God does. The changeless God of compassion reaches out to Cain.
"Then the LORD said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?'" (Gen. 4:6).
Does this sound like the voice of an Old Testament, wrathful God? Rather, it sounds like a concerned brother or father. He sees Cain's depression (Why has your countenance fallen?), and the resulting anger.
But Cain is too self-absorbed. He doesn't even see the great honor being bestowed upon him. There is no record of God talking with Abel the righteous, but God does talk to Cain the unrighteous. While God had no respect for Cain's offering-the man in sin-he deeply cared about him. As Cain had sown, now he would reap. By his own bad attitude, his offering received no respect, and his darkened mind does not receive or respect God's offering of omniscient advice-even though the Almighty is reaching out to him.
If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it (Gen. 4:7).
The Creator offers wisdom from on High. "Try harder, apply yourself," is the advise. In other words, "If you give it your best, you can beat the depression. Give up the 'what does it matter?' attitude and get over your pity party. If you settle for second-best, sin will overcome you."
God's desire is to heal Cain and to help him master sin. He is telling Cain he is sinning-even though no biblical definition of sin exists yet. Cain apparently has an inborn knowledge of sin and even though not worthy, God is wooing him, calling him back into fellowship and relationship. This is a God of compassion.
. . .
Editorial: "The Memphis Manifesto: Five Years Later" By H. Murray Hohns
Read this article on PneumaReview.com: pneumareview.com/the-memphis-manifesto-five-years-later
- As you may know, the Pneuma Foundation does not presently have a website. A professional intranet designer has volunteered to help us build one, and we have seen some success with this already.
Unfortunately, the free webspace given to us by a local ISP does not have ASP, a specialized protocol. Our volunteer webmaster has said he really requires this to be able to design it the way he would like. Please pray with us regarding this need.
- Do join with the editors and writers of the Pneuma Review that this upcoming issue will be a blessing to the readers. Their prayer is that this issue will be a resource that encourages discussion on the gifts of the Spirit for today and builds the faith of those who have invited the Holy Spirit to do in and through them all that He wants to.<.li>
- The US Postal Service has accepted the Pneuma Foundation's application for making Bulk Rate Non-Profit mailings. This should allow the Pneuma Foundation to expand its outreach and mailing capability with much less expense than otherwise. Thanks again for praying with us about this issue.
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