It's Cessationism a stance of the Anglican tradition?

Discussion in 'Questions?' started by Lowly Layman, Mar 11, 2024.

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Do you agree with the Cessationist position?

  1. Yes

    3 vote(s)
    30.0%
  2. No

    7 vote(s)
    70.0%
  1. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    Do you ascribe to the theological cessationism or continuationism?

    Cessationism is the thrological belief that certain supernatural gifts, like speaking in tongues or prophecy, described in the Bible, ceased or ended after the apostolic era, rather than continuing throughout the history of the Christian church. Continuationism, essentially asserts the opposite, that these gift are still present in the Church.

    Is there scripture to back up your position or is it simply an argument from silence?
     
  2. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    I believe in Continuationism.
     
  3. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    Have you participated in any of the aforementioned gifts of the Spririt (speaking in tongues, etc.)?
     
  4. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    I have not but I know people who have
     
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  5. Shane R

    Shane R Well-Known Member

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    It would be fair to say that Anglicanism was initially cessationist, as were all of the Magisterial Reformers. This attitude began to fade and I highly doubt it is any longer a majority position within any major Anglican communion. However, cautious continuatism is a laudable position that too many have sacrificed at the altar of Charismatic renewal.
     
  6. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    The reason ultimately why I would not accept cessationism as a stance is largely due to my understanding of Revelation. I take it that God is entirely other, incomprehensible and unknowable, save for that which he reveals. The canon - that is the rule of measuring rod - of Scripture gives us something to put beside what we might think is a divine revelation and assess and either accept or dismiss it based on its conformity to the rule. I do not believe that God is a retired revealer, but rather that God is active and continues to make himself known.

    Gifts in Isaiah: "wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord."
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    I see no grounds to isolate and exclude any of these from any list as being no longer relevant. I think where the Church loses its prophetic voice, or perhaps its courage to speak it, then we become of less service to both God and the World. I have struggled with glossolalia which has been worn as a badge of honour, to distinguish between truly spiritual people and the others, however when accompanied by the interpretation of tongues it makes more sense. There is a deep profound silence of contemplation in which we listen with Elijah to a still small voice. I am not sure it is a lot different.

    God has not given up on the world.
     
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  7. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I am a cessationist. I personally haven’t seen or heard anything that would lead me to conclude that any modern claims concerning the exercise of ‘spiritual gifts’ couldn’t be explained naturalistically. Furthermore, in the case of “speaking in tongues,” what the Book of Acts depicts is clearly not glossolalia but xenoglossy, so I have never taken claims regarding the former as any kind of evidence of divine influence, even if it could be shown that a naturalistic explanation was insufficient. In any case, such instances, assuming they occurred, are confined to the past.
     
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  8. Shane R

    Shane R Well-Known Member

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    You've reminded me of a line of thought I pursued and preached on a few years back. I was raised in a staunch Cessationist tradition and yet they were always quoting St. Peter's epistle, "your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." And also "Get thee behind me, Satan." I thought it incongruous to believe so fervently in the ongoing activity of the devil while denying any activity of the Spirit outside of the written word. I believe the preachers of my childhood were wrong on both fronts: they neither understood the devil nor the Spirit.
     
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  9. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    I think most Christians today are so used living the life of the Spirit, in now imposed ecclesiastical structures, which within a few decades of the end of the Apostolic era, took over the role of the Holy Spirit in the distribution and identification of the severally apportioned gifts of the Spirit among the whole congregation of the people of God, that very few of them would recognise or understand whether they HAVE one of those 'gifts', even if they happen to be experiencing it at the time.

    I was once told by a priest, "Of course, it is the Priest who has ALL the gifts needed by the congregation".

    I am not a cessationist because I am convinced, from my own experience, that the church of my childhood and youth never taught me how to recognise any of these 'gifts', even if I were to be experiencing any one of them at any moment in time. This was probably because the church people, mostly clergy, who taught me about the Spirit and the 'gifting' didn't know themselves how to recognise, within themselves, whether a 'gift of The Spirit' was being manifest in them, so obviously were in no position to and couldn't describe or explain such a manifestation to me. So I remained ignorant of the gifts in existence in todays church until much later in life.

    How many Christians today would even KNOW if they had gifts of healing unless they had successfully gone into a secular healing profession. The church does not generally encourage 'laity' to experiment to discover if someone in a congregation has particularly spectacular results with prayer for healing others or even is good at giving practical advice on healing, both mental and physical, like a good doctor would. St Luke the beloved physician was obviously regarded as having 'gifts' of healing. He was a doctor. Many Christians today are doctors. Many may also have this 'gift'.

    When in conversation with someone seeking knowledge of a spiritual nature, searching for reasons to believe, have you, youself, ever come out with something particularly apropos, not knowing from whence it had come, and being pleasantly surprised at the wisdom of it. You may have experienced the 'gift' of a 'word of wisdom', from The Holy Spirit. You may simply, in your ignorance of how the Holy Spirit operates in you, put this down entirely as a 'naturalistic' phenomenon. I'm sure many Christians do.

    How often, in conversation with someone in turmoil and some apparent spiritual distress, have you suddenly had an inkling, "I know exactly what is troubling you and can even advise you on how to deal with it". You may have been gifted with 'a word of knowledge'. Offer your advice, it may well have come for that person you are offering it too, from The Holy Spirit within you. Just be aware that you inevitably run the risks attending, 'casting your pearls before swine, though.'

    Similarly with the other 'gifts' of the Spirit. They SHOULD always seem to have 'naturalistic explanations'. The Holy Spirit does not attract attention, by going round performing spectacular displays all the time. Imagining the gifts of the Spirit to be necessarily spectacular is utter foolishness and very worldly.
    I am convinced that glossolalia is merely an indication that the person exercising that gift of tongues of men and angels, is sufficiently unselfconscious and uninhibited to allow God The Holy Spirit full possession of their personality, even their vocal chords and brain's speech centre, (provided they have asked for The gift of The Holy Spirit and are convinced they are cleansed by the power of God's love, and convinced of God's generosity). They no longer fear being thought foolish in the eyes of others, they only regard their standing with GOD as being a measure of their reputation for sanity. I also accept though, that for some it would merely be an attempt to 'fit in' in a community where such behaviour is almost a 'requirement', for true membership. This gift is easily mimicked and counterfeited, but not always so, particularly in private.

    God can use such 'glossolalia gifted' people much more effectively, than people who are so 'buttoned up' and 'self image conscious' that they are more concerned with impressing a fellow world around them, than serving God's purposes by surrendering themselves wholly to God's will.

    Having said that though. I also believe that the experience of Pentecost, you named as 'xenoglossy' also remains extant today. The circumstances when this gift might manifest itself though may be quite rare. Pentecost, on that occasion, was a unique example , being a 'FIRST' so to speak, but I have heard reports of glossolalia, to the surprise of the 'gifted' unexpectedly experiencing the hearer responding having comprehended the speech and having replied as if the speaker could understand the language spoken. To the surprise of the hearer, the person speaking in tongues was completely unaware of what they had said.

    I imagine, even if the reports were true, the circumstances in which these events occurred must have been pretty unique, so also, rare. That rarity though would not be evidence that the 'gift' is no longer available to believers, from God, if the occasion actually demanded its necessity.
    .
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2024
  10. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    At least when babies babble, they’re trying to communicate something. In the case of glossolalia, on the other hand, I could never accept that unintelligible gibberish could possibly be a sign of higher intelligence, let alone a divine one. The practice always struck me as weird in the extreme, and I’ve seen nothing that would persuade me to take it seriously as a claim to religious authority. It’s that simple. What’s actually depicted in the NT isn’t glossolalia anyway, so it’s a moot point.
     
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  11. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    To be fair, I don't think cessationists believe that the Holy Spirit has ceased all supernatural activity "outside of the wittern word". One cessationist source I read online stated the cessationist position holds only "that the sign gifts of the New Testament period have ceased to function. While cessationists believe God still performs miracles today, they teach that God does not specifically equip individual Christians to perform miraculous signs."

    There may be nuances that are not being fully appreciated here
     
  12. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Well-Known Member

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    I'm completely with you on this one Invictus.

    I've mentioned it before but my brother in law took my wife and me to his Assembly of God church meeting. The minister started talking in tongues, so I ( remembering 1 Cor:14),

    13 For this reason the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. 16 Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying?

    pipe up in a big loud voice " Why doesn't he give a translation, as 1 Corinthians 14 says he should ". Disapproving looks everywhere from Christians to this agnostic then resulted, but hey thems the breaks.
     
  13. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    ANY language which is incomprehensible to the HEARER of it is unintelligible gibberish to the listener. Even the entirely fictitious language of Klingon is not unintelligible gibberish though, if you, the hearer, understand its grammar, syntax and vocabulary. I'd agree though that most supposed language heard in some assemblies are Gibberish, not English or any humanly recongnisable language. Animals, such as elephants and dolphins communicate information to one another using sound, but such sounds are gibberish to us, simply because we do not understand it. There is something rather arrogant about labelling something 'gibberish' merely because we, personally are possibly ignorant of it's meaning. If what is being said is something God thinks you need to know, you will understand it. If God thinks the information is superflouous to you, then you won't.
    .
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2024
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  14. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    It’s not “arrogant” in the slightest. It’s not as if glossolalia hasn’t been studied scientifically. It’s not ‘language’ in any sense. And as I keep pointing out, what the Book of Acts describes isn’t glossolalia anyway…
     
  15. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    It is arrogant to assume, simply because one does not comprehend a sentence of words, that that sentence has no meaning or is therefore not a valid sentence or inevitably non-sense or irrelevant. It might have been words of warning that might affect your very life. The ignorance may more likely be in the hearer than in the speaker. Foreigners speaking a language we do not understand are not necessarily speaking nonsense just because we don't understand what they are saying.

    I'm not a great fan of 'speaking in tongues', neither was St Paul. It, whatever one may call it, is regarded by him as the least important gift of the Spirit to desire to have and any idea that it is 'essential' or any kind of indicator of the quality of 'faith' of an individual or a church, is utter nonsense.

    On the other hand St Paul never derided it, saying he spoke more languages than most others. He just didn't see the point of doing it in public meetings, since it was unlikely to edify the hearers by imparting useful information. St Paul advised seeking higher gifts, such as prophesy, (ability to preach spiritual truth). If St Paul advised disciples to seek higher gifts he certainly was not contemplating a future in which such seeking would inevitably be futile, so this is an indication that the gifts of the Spirit in the church are still available to those who seek them and strive thereby to empower and build up the church.

    If they were necessary in Corinth in those days, they will still be necessary now, and the lack of them will impoverish the church.
    .
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2024
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  16. Bert Gallagher

    Bert Gallagher New Member

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    I believe both views, cessationism and continuationism, are compatible with Anglicanism. I personally agree with Shane’s use of the phrase “cautious continuatism”.
     
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  17. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    I think it's clear to most that the Church's ministry with respect to "sign gifts" has evolved and in large part ceased to operate as it did in the apostolic period.

    To Invictus' point, I had a very dear Aunt, who was extremely intelligent. Her husband started attending a pentecostal church a few years before her passing. She became very interested in the "speaking in tongues" phenomenon. I think she wanted to believe all of the pentecostal displays she was witnessing were legitimate. I also think she became worried because that church they were attending said if you didn't speak in tongues you weren't saved.

    She began reading a everything she could find about it. Once when I expressed my skepticism about the "language," she told me she had read that researchers had discovered the angelic language spoken by those "under the Spirit" was a language also spoken by certain tribes of bush people in Africa. I remember asking her if that were the case were those tribes pentecostal christians. We stopped discussing the matter after that.

    I think that the purpose given in the New Testament of sign gifts were for "building up" the Church by the Apostles. Once the Church was established, they were no longer needed.

    Perhaps they will return at some point in a more general way--or have already from time to time in a regional amd temporary way-- when the Church needs renewal and building up again and those signs will be proofs to nonbelievers of the authenticity and divine origin of the Church and its ministers.
     
  18. Tom Barrial

    Tom Barrial Member

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    I have. And I continue to use these gifts today
     
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  19. Tom Barrial

    Tom Barrial Member

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    I respect your position. But if you were in a church that practices the gifts you would hold a different opinion. The issue here is that what scriptures say that the gifts are not for today as opposed to what scriptures say that the gifts are for today
     
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  20. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Ok, but when the Book of Acts mentioned “speaking in tongues” (cf. Ch. 2), it wasn’t talking about the modern phenomenon of glossolalia. The account is clear that people were speaking their own languages and that others gathered there were each hearing what was said in their native language. This is the most straightforward reading of the text as we have it. This is not glossolalia; it is xenoglossy. The latter is a familiar concept to anyone who loves science fiction. For a brief moment, the Holy Spirit is depicted as functioning as a Universal Translator. (There are no recognized, credible instances of xenoglossy in modern times.) The story harks back to the Tower of Babel story from Genesis: the division of languages = the division of mankind. The author of the Book of Acts was making the case that the message of Jesus’ gospel was for all people, not just for Jews living in Palestine. The gathering was also symbolic of the “gathering of nations” that was believed would occur at the end of time. An apocalyptic sign of xenoglossy (not glossolalia) would signal that the return of Jesus was near at hand, at which time all nations would be judged by him personally. Hence, the universality of the message.

    Once these stories are understood within their proper context, it’s abundantly clear that the modern “charismatic movement” has nothing to do with what the NT is talking about when it discusses the ‘spiritual gifts’. A person speaking in a way that no one else in the congregation could understand - a very un-Anglican practice, I might add - would be doing the exact opposite of what a spiritual gift is supposed to do: proclaim the message of the gospel so that it can be understood by all.

    With respect, it is unlikely a change in environment would change my opinion. I’ve been in such environments before. I knew then what the NT said and what it didn’t say, and I opted to resist the peer pressure and openly criticize what I saw, until I had the means and the opportunity to go elsewhere. The historic lack of a “charismatic” element is one of the things that initially attracted me to Anglicanism in the first place. If my parish ever started tolerating “charismatic” practices, I would opt to attend another parish. On the other hand, if someone started speaking Russian or Chinese and I heard it in English, that would get my attention. :laugh:
     
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