Saturday, May 8, 2010

Something For Continuists To Ponder

I was recently reading Warfield’s Counterfeit Miracles when I came across this incredible paragraph.

“Pretensions by any class of men to the possession and use of miraculous powers as a permanent endowment are, within the limits of the Christian church, a specialty of Roman Catholicism. Denial of these pretensions is part of the protest by virtue of which we bear the name of Protestants. ‘In point of interpretation, the history of Protestantism,’ as an Edinburgh reviewer, writing in trying conditions in 1831, justly puts it, ‘is a uniform disclaimer of any promise in the Scriptures that miraculous powers should be continued in the Church.’ In point of fact (we may slightly modify his next sentence to declare), the claim to the possession and exercise of powers of this description by individuals has always been received in Protestant circles with a suspicion which experience has only too completely justified.” (B.B. Warfield, Counterfeit Miracles, Lecture 4)

I can only hope that the reader grasps its significance. Warfield is as much as saying that belief in the cessation of the charismata is distinctly Protestant and belief in the continuation of the charismata is distinctly Roman Catholic. That is an incredible statement. I am certain that it is also a very correct assessment.

One of the doctrine distinctions of the Reformation was the insistence on the principle of Sola Scriptura. Whatever else that may mean, this much is certain: since the completion of the canon we do NOT look for any further revelation from God. To do so is to sin against the Triune Godhead, since He is the divine Author of it. One cannot with consistency hold to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura and believe in continued revelatory gifts. Sola Scriptura and charismatism are like oil and water.

Roman Catholicism has no problem adding to Scripture. Every time the pope speaks, he is assumed to speak infallibly for God (as God in fact since he is said to be Christ’s vicar). Now comes the burning question. Where the Reformers right? The answer: Of course they were. Ergo, enough of this spineless compromise with popery! Millions of evangelical churches, so-called, have already compromised with Rome in her Pelagian worship of free will and her denial of substitutionary atonement.

When I was a Pentecostal, I used to get angry when someone claimed that charismatism was popish. I know better now. Warfield reminds us that rejection of charismatism is one of the things that makes us Protestants.

I hate when people pull punches, so I won’t. I am amazed at the supposedly “Reformed” people who entertain the idea of the continuation of the charismata. I have heard a hundred arguments, and to be honest, they all sound just as weak and mystic as the Pentecostal arguments. So to all those Reformed folks out there who entertain the possible continuation of the charismata, I have one thing to say: Refute Warfield point by point, then we’ll talk. And to those who enjoy dissing the Reformers, I say: Go back to Rome where you belong!

1 comment:

  1. Great post. I've had that Warfield book in my Amazon "save for later" cart for over 2 years (I already was convinced of cessationism before seeing it, thanks to John Macarthur).

    Interestingly, in the nouthetic studies courses I'm taking, Donn Arms and Jay Adams make a very similar point in a lecture on discernment - you cannot uphold the sufficiency of Scripture and still believe in progressive revelation. The two are mutually exclusive.


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