Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!
Charismata and the Authority of Scripture
I have been reading through Jon Mark Ruthven’s On the Cessation of the Charismata, a book that is arguing against the position of cessationism. Cessationism is the notion that at least some spiritual gifts–things like healing, prophecy, etc.–mentioned in the New Testament did not continue beyond the New Testament era of the formative church [read more on the various views of spiritual gifts here]. One of the most controversial topics in this debate is the issue of authority. Ruthven is fairly blunt when he considers B.B. Warfield’s rejection of the spiritual gifts. The rejection was based, in part, on:
the implicit attack on the sufficiency of scriptural authority made by those claiming miracles and extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit… Such claims [of spiritual gifts]… represented a direct challenge to Protestant religious authority in that it was specifically based upon a closed canon of Scripture. (32, cited below)
Now I have not finished the book, so I’m not sure whether Ruthven would affirm this point. Indeed, he calls this a “polemical” argument against spiritual gifts, so I suspect he’s going to argue that the “continuationist” position–that which affirms spiritual gifts moving into the modern era–does not need to deny the closedness of the canon or affirm a denial of the sufficiency of Scripture. I’m looking forward to seeing how his argument proceeds, and whether he will indeed argue against this or affirm the openness of the canon.
What do you think? Do charismata–spiritual gifts–entail this position? If so, how problematic is it? What is your position? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments.
“Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?”- A look at four views in Christian Theology– I provide a look at four positions on miraculous/spiritual gifts in contemporary theology.
Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)
Jon Mark Ruthven, On the Cessation of the Charismata (Tulsa, OK: Word & Spirit Press, 2011).