Is the Westminster Confession and the Baptist Confession of 1689 Cessationist?

Is the reformed position cessationist

  • Yes, all special revelation is now obsolete and ceased (2 Timothy 3:15-17)

  • No, special revelation continues (Acts 2:17-18)

  • Yes in principle the canon is closed, in practice Jesus still visits people with special revelation


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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
As one minister put it if we test it against what God has already said in scripture and it agrees with it - what does it add to scripture?

That begs the question, since no continuationist believes we are adding to Scripture. And the question itself is faulty. In one of the threads on this topic, that was brought up and Prof Duguid, himself no continuationist, pointed out the problems with it.

 
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Eyedoc84

Puritan Board Freshman
Everyone has this strange idea that if someone prophecies something or sees an angel, then the church is obligated to do....something or other. I don't know. One doesn't logically follow from the other.
If someone is speaking to you the direct word of God bu some new “prophecy”, how would you not be under obligation?
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
If someone is speaking to you the direct word of God bu some new “prophecy”, how would you not be under obligation?

Prophecy is a slippery term. In the NT it usually means having access to future knowledge. That by itself is not a sufficient condition to be "Word of God." Antichrist will prophecy and do signs, but we won't be under obligation to believe him.

And Word of God itself doesn't have a univocal meaning. There are cases in Scripture where the phrase word of God cannot be Bible or Canon.
The “Word” can be:
  • eternally set in the heavens (Ps. 119:89), but we don't imagine bibles floating in the sky.
  • the Logoi in the order of nature (Ps. 19:1-4).
  • Sown in the ministry of Christ (Mt. 13)
  • That which prevailed in Acts (12:24)

The last two examples probably could be applied as relating to the Bible, but even then the word isn't strictly identical to the Bible.


Further, if prophecy automatically equaled Scripture, then believers shouldn't have been told to test the prophecies.
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
One thing to remember is that the following people were not cessationist in the sense many TR use it.

Luther, Knox, Rutherford, Flavel, the Covenanters, Mather, (and not in this essay also Spurgeon.)

( scroll down to the history if you never read it).

There are semantics and nuance, but in the end, the only conclusion is that our Reformed history has an understanding of the working of the Holy Spirit we need to be careful not to despise, even while rejecting most of today's charismatic movement.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
One thing to remember is that the following people were not cessationist in the sense many TR use it.

Luther, Knox, Rutherford, Flavel, the Covenanters, Mather, (and not in this essay also Spurgeon.)

( scroll down to the history if you never read it).

There are semantics and nuance, but in the end, the only conclusion is that our Reformed history has an understanding of the working of the Holy Spirit we need to be careful not to despise, even while rejecting most of today's charismatic movement.

I tentatively agree. The texts and biographies from that period clearly demonstrate that they were continuationist. Richard Cameron accurately prophesied (with eerie specificity) the deaths of several enemies of the covenant.

I used to use that argument. I don't anymore. Historical analysis and criticism of texts in that period wasn't very sophisticated. Many of these stories do sound a lot like the "lives of the Saints" in the early church. That doesn't make them wrong, but it should urge caution.
 

Jeri Tanner

Administrator
Staff member
There is a frustration and concern that Eoghan is expressing as a private, not a public (i.e. not a minister), church member. Our confession of faith is cessationist, yet many pastors/churches that claim the WCF allow or promote continuationist teaching and practice.

The Bible doesn’t put the burden of discerning the validity of a minister’s doctrine on the laypeople, as such, but rather on those who are equipped to judge and discern. Every Christian should certainly strive to be discerning, but so many aren’t taught or well-read. But in a congregation where the minister is teaching and practicing continuationist (or other unconfessional) doctrine, it would be the duty of a concerned private member to address that through orderly means, I suppose? Unless the denomination has pretty much given in to such teaching.

It’s sad, because private members/congregations are so often just hapless sitting ducks where wrong doctrine and practice are taught.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
But in a congregation where the minister is teaching and practicing continuationist (or other unconfessional) doctrine, it would be the duty of a concerned private member to address that through orderly means, I suppose?

That's legitimate, but I didn't get that from his posts. That might explain my push back. But if all he means is that unread (untaught?) laypeople are helpless before continuationist ministers, then I won't over analyze his posts anymore. That said, I've been in the ARP, PCA, OPC, and EPC and I have never experienced any continuationist doctrine.
 

Jeri Tanner

Administrator
Staff member
But if all he means is that unread (untaught?) laypeople are helpless before continuationist ministers
Of course the OP never said those words, those were mine. I meant only to describe what was being expressed (frustration and concern) (and possibly I wrongly assumed frustration).
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
If you want a good response to continuationism, Poythress is the best. He puts a number of difficulties to the continuationist thesis (as it is practiced), yet he avoids all the mistakes in reasoning that some cessationists commit.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
If you want a good response to continuationism, Poythress is the best. He puts a number of difficulties to the continuationist thesis (as it is practiced), yet he avoids all the mistakes in reasoning that some cessationists commit.
What are your thoughts on Victor Budgen's "The Charismatics and the Word of God"?. A Reformed Baptist friend of mine highly praised this book. I have read it (many years ago) but have not read Poythress.

 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
What are your thoughts on Victor Budgen's "The Charismatics and the Word of God"?. A Reformed Baptist friend of mine highly praised this book. I have read it (many years ago) but have not read Poythress.


I haven't read it. I would be interested to see which scholarly works he interacts with. Any good treatment on the topic today (doesn't matter which side) has to address the following:

1. Craig Keener, The Giver and the Gift.
2.
Gaffin, Perspectives on Pentecost
3.
Grudem, Prophecy. I recommend Grudem with caution simply on the grounds that I hate ESS. I view it as functional quasi-Arianism.
4. Michael L. Brown. He is the #1 scholar on the topic.
5. Ruthven, Cessation of the Charismata.

Waldron is good, too. He has publicly debated Brown and Storms, so he is aware of the best arguments on either side.

The best popular mid-level treatment is by the late Steve Hays. His blog is a gold-mine. He did an analysis of the Waldron-Brown debate which was fantastic.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
What are your thoughts on Victor Budgen's "The Charismatics and the Word of God"?. A Reformed Baptist friend of mine highly praised this book. I have read it (many years ago) but have not read Poythress.


The amazon reviews of it are good. He evidently argues that the "perfect" is the canon, which is faulty. If the canon is the perfect, and the perfect has come, then we have to have full knowledge, which we don't. Cessationists such as Macarthur and Gaffin have rejected that position.

If I come across a used copy, I might pick it up.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
I haven't read it. I would be interested to see which scholarly works he interacts with. Any good treatment on the topic today (doesn't matter which side) has to address the following:

1. Craig Keener, The Giver and the Gift.
2.
Gaffin, Perspectives on Pentecost
3.
Grudem, Prophecy. I recommend Grudem with caution simply on the grounds that I hate ESS. I view it as functional quasi-Arianism.
4. Michael L. Brown. He is the #1 scholar on the topic.
5. Ruthven, Cessation of the Charismata.

Waldron is good, too. He has publicly debated Brown and Storms, so he is aware of the best arguments on either side.

The best popular mid-level treatment is by the late Steve Hays. His blog is a gold-mine. He did an analysis of the Waldron-Brown debate which was fantastic.
Budgen wrote in the late 1980's, thus written before many of these writings. Unfortunately I don't think it has been updated.
The amazon reviews of it are good. He evidently argues that the "perfect" is the canon, which is faulty. If the canon is the perfect, and the perfect has come, then we have to have full knowledge, which we don't. Cessationists such as Macarthur and Gaffin have rejected that position.

If I come across a used copy, I might pick it up.
I understand Waldron rejects the canon argument.
 

TheInquirer

Puritan Board Freshman
Where have I been unkind, uncharitable, or argumentative? Please provide examples, and I will be quick and sincere to repent. You say this is a discussion forum, yet you seem very intent on policing the types of discussion that are allowed, according to some unwritten standard imposed arbitrarily by yourself. Brother, discussion presupposes dialogue between different people with different perspectives. If a couple of us are geared more toward fine-tuned speech and argumentation, then who are you to say we are not allowed to engage from that angle? I must ask, am I really being argumentative, or do you just not like or agree with my particular contribution? Because there is a marked difference between the two.

I cannot speak for Jacob, but the thing that bothers me the most is that you rebuke me for allegedly unkind speech, providing no specific examples (at least not yet), and then you have the gall to ask me such ridiculous questions, such as if I "treat Christians at our churches this way." How dare you. If you do not see the irony in the tone, content, and force of your post here, then there isn't much else I can say. Perhaps some plank removal is in order.

Well, I will admit and apologize for not giving you the same gentleness and charity I was demanding you show Eoghan so I was wrong on that count and own up to it.

No, I don't mind disagreement at all. Here is why I said what I did:

I perceived the OP was fighting a battle in the offline world and was coming here for help. I felt you and Jacob were ganging up on him on a minor point and not answering his question and raising arguments that didn't need to be raised - hence the accusation of being "argumentative." I felt he was being treated unfairly and attacked when he was merely asking for help through his question. That is what made me mad.

I believe that one of the great benefits of this board is that for many of us, who feel so very alone in our battles for the truth in our churches, can come here for support and help. I have been frustrated in the past, and in this thread, that sometimes that help is treated as a debate session instead of in the spirit of helpfulness in which it is asked. To come here for help and then get smacked around after one is already "wounded from battle" is both demoralizing and discouraging.

The point I was making in regards to your "razor-sharp precision" remark is that we don't hold people to that same kind of speech standard in the real world (hence my examples of church and marriage) and wondered why you would be demanding that standard from the OP. Eoghan was not crafting a confessional statement therefore I felt he didn't need to be held to the standard of logic and precision both of you seemed you were calling him to. That is all I was saying. I apologize for not being clearer in explaining my thinking and writing in haste, thus making the situation worse.

So I own up to the fact that I responded too quickly and did not craft my response and complaint in gentleness or wisdom. Perhaps I should have flagged it and let the mods take care of it. I just felt our brother was being treated very unfairly when he was merely asking for help. My tendency is to jump in and say something when I feel others are not. Sometimes that is good, sometimes it is not wise.

Hopefully you can understand my perspective and why I said what I did. Once again, I own up to my own sin in not demonstrating the kind of patient, wise, and gentle response that many here model so well and what I was criticizing you and Jacob for. I clearly have a long way to go and you are right that there was some "plankishness" from my emotion and desire to defend a brother that kept me from writing clearly and patiently.

I do not wish to derail this thread further but I felt it right and honoring to the Lord to both apologize for my part in the argument and to also explain why I said what I did.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
Well, I will admit and apologize for not giving you the same gentleness and charity I was demanding you show Eoghan so I was wrong on that count and own up to it.

No, I don't mind disagreement at all. Here is why I said what I did:

I perceived the OP was fighting a battle in the offline world and was coming here for help. I felt you and Jacob were ganging up on him on a minor point and not answering his question and raising arguments that didn't need to be raised - hence the accusation of being "argumentative." I felt he was being treated unfairly and attacked when he was merely asking for help through his question. That is what made me mad.

I believe that one of the great benefits of this board is that for many of us, who feel so very alone in our battles for the truth in our churches, can come here for support and help. I have been frustrated in the past, and in this thread, that sometimes that help is treated as a debate session instead of in the spirit of helpfulness in which it is asked. To come here for help and then get smacked around after one is already "wounded from battle" is both demoralizing and discouraging.

The point I was making in regards to your "razor-sharp precision" remark is that we don't hold people to that same kind of speech standard in the real world (hence my examples of church and marriage) and wondered why you would be demanding that standard from the OP. Eoghan was not crafting a confessional statement therefore I felt he didn't need to be held to the standard of logic and precision both of you seemed you were calling him to. That is all I was saying. I apologize for not being clearer in explaining my thinking and writing in haste, thus making the situation worse.

So I own up to the fact that I responded too quickly and did not craft my response and complaint in gentleness or wisdom. Perhaps I should have flagged it and let the mods take care of it. I just felt our brother was being treated very unfairly when he was merely asking for help. My tendency is to jump in and say something when I feel others are not. Sometimes that is good, sometimes it is not wise.

Hopefully you can understand my perspective and why I said what I did. Once again, I own up to my own sin in not demonstrating the kind of patient, wise, and gentle response that many here model so well and what I was criticizing you and Jacob for. I clearly have a long way to go and you are right that there was some "plankishness" from my emotion and desire to defend a brother that kept me from writing clearly and patiently.

I do not wish to derail this thread further but I felt it right and honoring to the Lord to both apologize for my part in the argument and to also explain why I said what I did.
Brother,

I warmly and sincerely accept your apology. I would like to offer my own, as well. I tend to react strongly when I feel taken by surprise. Instead of firing back, which was wrong, I should have tried to clarify my own thinking. Thus I committed the same thing of which I accused you. And for that, I too apologize, and humbly ask for your forgiveness.

In the end, this is one of the weaknesses of interacting online via text; too often it is difficult to detect tone in someone's writing. I will endeavor to be clearer and transparent about it in the future.

Again, please accept my apologies. And I pray you have a blessed Lord's Day!
 

Eoghan

Puritan Board Senior
Update. At our zoom Bible study of last week modern dreams and visions (Acts 2) was being advocated following a study of Genesis 40 and Joseph's interpretation of dreams. I raised some objections and openly said I was a poacher turned gamekeeper (former charismatic). As a result the minister is organising a zoom discussion next week.

"I thought about what you proposed. A live video chat re: special revelation, would certainly allow people to express their feelings on the subject.

For me discussing an issue requires thought, reflection and a degree of intellectual effort to organise and then present the conclusions. That necessarily involves going away, thinking and probably drafting a response before finalising (probably with a fountain pen).

For that reason I would prefer not to participate in a zoom session.
"

As a Baptist I don't feel inhibited by the heirarchical nature of Presbyterian government. This is a recurring tension between our vacant Free Church and our interim moderator (?). He has for some twenty years or more being edging towards a continuationist position. There was supposed to be some agreement that he not bring his continuationist views to our church. He did and as a man charged with preaching the full counsel of God I have some sympathy with him. I am concerned that if the Church heirarchy becomes involved then he will be disciplined. My church prevented me putting that sermon on our church website.

So far we have courteously explained our positions. My respect for reformed presbyterian churches is that they retain a theological conviction that has been lost elsewhere. My congregation is cessationist and one of the elders is a former pentecostalist. Our neighbouring congregation is continuationist and would welcome "power evangelism" with miracles of healing and special revelation through dreams and young men & women prophesying.

I guess I am reassured by the almost unanimous acceptance of the cessationist position of the confessions but dissappointed at an inability to marshal the arguments that support that position. We accept the conclusion of others (Confessions) but do not seem able to articulate the doctrinal understanding which leads to it.
 
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