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)
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  2. No

    7 vote(s)
    70.0%
  1. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    That seems to me to hit the cessationists nail on the head. That is why 'cautious continuatism is a laudable position', for anyone who wants corroberation from scripture for their position on this subject.

    You are quite correct there is nothing whatever in scripture which indicates that Christ or any of his apostles recorded there, an opinion that any gift from God would ever be discontinued before the return of Christ, especially gifts to the church. What we have instead is a statement from Paul an apostle, that - "the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable." - Rom.11:29. Which I read as meaning God's gifts, once given, are never taken away.
    .
     
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  2. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    It’s all speculation really. (The ending of John’s gospel was a later tradition anyway.) There’s no way to know what Peter and Paul might have discussed, unfortunately. What we know for sure is that Paul did not derive his teaching from Peter or James, which was undoubtedly behind the conflict that erupted between them 14 years later.

    “For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

    Paul actually had some very unkind things to say about James, if you read Galatians carefully.
     
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  3. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Well-Known Member

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    Nothing!
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    I was just suggesting to Invictus, his idea that Paul thought that would see the Parousia, might be in error.
    Perhaps Invictus and I can multitask.:D
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2024
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  4. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    Point well taken. I agree that there is little to no scriptural evidence to support the cessationist position. My thought is that the orthodox church moved away from the use of sign gifts because it was a way for heretics and schismatics to show evidence of God's alleged favor over their ministry.

    I think specifically of the Montanists, who relied on ecstatic displays of spirit-led gifts to "prove" that they were true messengers of God. It was long believed, although now apparently disputed, that one of the Montanist prophets, Priscilla, was able to lead Tertullian, the father of Latin Christianity himself, away from the true faith later in his life.

    I think there is a clear line of argument among the apostolic fathers and later that authority and truth in the Church was demonstrated through apostolic succession, not through displays from people who could not show such a pedigree. An example would be Irenaeus in his Against Heresies:

    “It is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church—those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the infallible charism of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But [it is also incumbent] to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever, either as heretics of perverse minds, or as schismatics puffed up and self-pleasing, or again as hypocrites, acting thus for the sake of lucre and vainglory. For all these have fallen from the truth” (Against Heresies, 4:26:2).​


    “The true knowledge is the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient organization of the Church throughout the whole world, and the manifestation of the body of Christ according to the succession of bishops, by which succession the bishops have handed down the Church which is found everywhere” (ibid., 4:33:8).​


    This was also true for Tertullian, prior to his apostasy:

    “But if there be any [heresies] which are bold enough to plant [their origin] in the midst of the apostolic age, that they may thereby seem to have been handed down by the apostles, because they existed in the time of the apostles, we can say: Let them produce the original records of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, running down in due succession from the beginning in such a manner that [their first] bishop shall be able to show for his ordainer and predecessor some one of the apostles or of apostolic men—a man, moreover, who continued steadfast with the apostles. For this is the manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers: as the church of Smyrna, which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter” (Demurrer Against the Heretics, 32).​

    “But should they even effect the contrivance [of composing a succession list for themselves], they will not advance a step. For their very doctrine, after comparison with that of the apostles [as contained in other churches], will declare, by its own diversity and contrariety, that it had for its author neither an apostle nor an apostolic man; because, as the apostles would never have taught things which were self-contradictory” (ibid.).​

    “Then let all the heresies, when challenged to these two tests by our apostolic Church, offer their proof of how they deem themselves to be apostolic. But in truth they neither are so, nor are they able to prove themselves to be what they are not. Nor are they admitted to peaceful relations and communion by such churches as are in any way connected with apostles, inasmuch as they are in no sense themselves apostolic because of their diversity as to the mysteries of the faith” (ibid.).​

    I wonder if, in the absence of a clearly define Canon and the backing of state power, the orthodox leaders of the early church became supsicious of sign gifts, seeing them as easy way for charismatic rivals to prop up their ministerial bona fides outside of apostolic line and to push their "new teachings" which were leading people away from the true faith.

    We see this again during the (Counter?) Reformation period where the Roman Church argued the necessity of apostolic succession as evidence of a Church's authenticity.

    Just a thought.

     
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  5. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Exactly. You can’t have hierarchical authority and laypeople who can claim to speak directly for God within the same ecclesiastical organization. They are independent authorities competing for the same allegiances and they cannot coexist indefinitely; one of them must win. Two powers cannot exclusively rule the same territory.

    Since the official Church determined the canon, it doesn’t seem terribly relevant to ask what “scriptural” support there is for or against cessationism. The authority that determined the canon was cessationist in fact (even if not by explicit intent), and by implication intended that canon to be understood against the backdrop of the ecclesiastical hierarchy that had developed since the 1st century. The English Reformers understood this, and they therefore forbade English translations of biblical passages that might appear to undermine the basis for episcopal authority. To therefore argue for a charismatic framework within Anglicanism (or Catholicism or Orthodoxy) is unhistorical and frankly unserious, for lack of a better word. They are fundamentally incompatible.

    If we interpret the relevant scriptural passages as canon, we are tasked with reconciling the accounts in Acts and in 1 Corinthians. By the exegetical rule of ‘interpreting the less clear by the more clear’, the gift of ‘speaking of tongues’ was xenoglossy (per Acts) rather than glossolalia. The latter is a learned behavior and can be manufactured; the former can be observed and tested objectively. Unlike glossolalia, an instance of xenoglossy would be a genuine miracle: all one has to do to prove the continuationist position is to produce just one example where such a case was documented and objectively verified. It’s that simple.

    If, on the other hand, we interpret the relevant scriptural passages as historical documents, we are confronted with Paul’s own apocalyptic expectations against the fact that nearly two millennia have passed since his death. Neither Paul’s genuine letters nor the rest of the NT envision the Church as anything more than a short-term, provisional reality: in their view ‘the end’ had already begun with the resurrection of Jesus, and its completion was imminent, in human terms. Even if Paul did not believe that the Church would outlast the ‘spiritual gifts’, however enumerated, the timeframe envisioned for the existence of both was in terms of years (or decades at most), not centuries or millennia, in which case the continuationist stance lacks an adequate theoretical foundation.

    People hang on to ‘charismatic’ claims as a result of deep-seated emotional needs, not because the scriptures or objective evidence compel them to do so. Argument and evidence simply do not matter to the charismatic movement. It remains the case that the maxim “it must be so, therefore it is so,” is not and never has been a reliable principle by which to discover the truth.
     
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  6. Tom Barrial

    Tom Barrial Member

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    Once again you make the statement that the church determines weather tongues is a valid gift. I put my trust in scripture. I trust Paul instead of random scholars. Cession of the gift of tongues is a umbilical doctrine.
     
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  7. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    The Church wrote the Scriptures, collected the Scriptures, provided the authoritative interpretation of the Scriptures (e.g., Ecumenical Councils), preserved the Scriptures, and determined what was canon and what wasn't. Saying you trust the Scriptures but not the Church that produced them is nonsensical. I'm really not sure what your point is. You're assuming what you're trying to prove.
     
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  8. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    You seem by the above satements though to be assuming that by a single example of just one, ( and the least significant one at that), of the many gifts of The Holy Spirit being apparently absent in the church, that now ALL are unavalable to the church of Jesus Christ, on earth today.

    This doesn't strike me as being a very logical conclusion on which to base a theory that all the gifts, charismata, of the Spirit are are being withheld from the church, by God. Nothing in the scripture would indicate this sessationist conjecture to be actually true. Quite the opposite seems to be implied by much of what we can read there. The church can assume from that, that God remains generous with his gifts. It seems more likely that we in the church of today are failing to receive them, recognise them, appreciate them and deploy them. 1 Tim.4:14. Especially the gift of faith.

    I don't think it is God lacking in generosity or not being desirous of giving. It is more likely to be the church lacking in faith, praxis and not desirous of receiving said gifts because of a general lack of understanding of spiritual matters.
    .
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2024
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  9. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I have argued no such thing. I simply cannot defend the view that the miracles recounted in the second chapter of Acts are present in the world today because there is no credible evidence that they are. Otherwise, “spiritual gifts” include many other things, like mercy, leadership, wisdom, and the like, which are not only visible everywhere, but are present among Christians and non-Christians alike. Trying to make a doctrine out of “spiritual gifts” - of which there never has been in the Church - either claims too much (e.g., esotericism) or too little (viz., Pelagianism).
    This is a Straw Man. No one is arguing this. Neither cessationism nor continuationism implies any change in God. People don’t regularly part the Red Sea or walk on water, either (and the reason why they don’t goes some of the way toward illustrating the rationale for the traditional cessationist view). This implies nothing whatsoever about God or his power. A timeless God cannot change.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2024
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  10. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Ahh! but cessationism is not so, (second chapter of acts), selective in it's theory that 'gifts of the Spirit previously peculiar to the church, from God' are now, in our generation, no longer available to it, as if God had at some time, shut them off.

    Cessationists would generally have the church, (for no other reason than that it IS God's church), believe that it cannot any longer expect to receive Spiritual gifts from God. These are gifts never before available to the world at large. The 'gifts' you mentioned, found in those outside the church, don't even exemplify what St Paul designated as 'gifts' to the church, in various passages of his letters.

    Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
    I could take issue with the word cannot change, but I won't. I'm only taking issue with the fact that cessationism seems to me to be more an assumption that the power of the Holy Spirit, from God, no longer works through disciples of Christ, the way scripture clearly indicates it did in the early church of the Apostles, because God presumably has now ordained it that way.

    Nothing in scripture indicates this to be the case. Nothing of the kind is either predicted or assumed would happen any time before the parousia. Such an assumption is based entirely on walking by sight, not by faith.

    I fully understand ecclesiastical authority being very wary of opening the Pandora's box of allowing charismata, being exhibited in the congregation, willy nilly, to the possible disruption of orderly and seemly worship, by those who through immaturity of development of the fruit of the Spirit, namely, self control, are unable to publicly contain themselves, like wizened old wineskins bursting under the strain of fermentation. That should be no good reason though to deny the possibility of charismata being available to today's church, in the way they were available to the 1st. and 2nd. cent. church in Corinth.

    I don't believe that to be the case. I suspect many others who have been the recipients of 'gifts of The Spirit', don't believe the gifts are unavalable today either.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2024
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  11. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Let's go through the lists as they have come down to us (in chronological order):

    1 Corinthians 12
    To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of powerful deeds, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues...And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work powerful deeds? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

    Romans 12
    We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the encourager, in encouragement; the giver, in sincerity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

    Ephesians 4

    He himself granted that some are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.

    1 Peter 4
    Be hospitable to one another without complaining. 10 Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ.
    There are eleven distinct gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians (some of them are listed more than once in this passage), seven in Romans, five in Ephesians, and two in 1 Peter. Whether one focuses on trends or averages, it's interesting to note that the "spiritual gifts" most talked about in contemporary discourse receive the least emphasis in the passages that include them. (It's also interesting that the lists as a whole became progressively smaller over time.) Of these, two - teaching and prophecy - occur in three of the lists, viz., Romans, 1 Corinthians, and Ephesians. One - apostleship - occurs in two of the lists, viz., 1 Corinthians and Ephesians. The remainder are found in only one of the four passages cited above (with "tongues," "healing," and "discernment of spirits" only occurring in the earliest list, 1 Corinthians). These lists were probably not intended to be understood as either exact or exhaustive, as the documents containing them were occasional letters, not theological treatises. Some of the gifts perhaps overlap to some extent (e.g., "powerful deeds" and "healing"). Some of them are arguably exercised in the present day (e.g., "teaching," "compassion," "encouragement," etc.). I don't think either magisterial Protestantism, or Roman Catholicism, or Eastern Orthodoxy makes the case that there are "apostles" still around. The leaders of continental Reformed confessions at least (e.g., Calvin) thought the same of miraculous acts, e.g., "healing," xenoglossy ("tongues"/"interpretation of tongues"), etc., on the basis of the conviction that the only purpose of such acts was to authenticate the message of the apostles, and that only the apostles could bestow such abilities on anyone else (cf. B.B. Warfield, Counterfeit Miracles, for an extended argument to this effect).

    So where does this leave us? Was the New Testament teaching continuationism or cessationism? The answer is: both. Given that there is no explicit teaching either way (otherwise there would be no point in debating the subject), insofar as the "gifts" in their generality were presumed to coexist with the Church prior to the parousia (cf. 1 Cor. 13), it is implicitly continuationist; insofar as the same group of documents from such the above passages are cited give plentiful evidence that their authors expected the parousia to occur within the 1st century, a conviction that runs all the way to the last book in the canon (and which, obviously, didn't happen), it is implicitly cessationist. If someone wants to believe that the "gifts" remain active today, that's fine. I'm not terribly concerned with what people privately believe. The question with which this thread implicitly began was whether such a conviction, when put into practice, is compatible with Anglicanism, to which I would say, arguably not, both for the the reasons I've already given in previous posts in this thread (e.g., the question of authority, the closed nature of the canon, Anglican standards of worship, the normative principle, the lack of evidence that the supernatural gifts are occurring in the present day, etc.), and because of the historical record of previous groups who have tried to pair some version "charismatic" or "revivalist" personal commitment with public worship according to the Prayer Book. The most famous such attempt was the Methodists, and whatever the merits of that movement and its early leaders, they did not, despite their sincere intentions and best efforts, succeed in remaining Anglican. The combination doesn't work. If I may paraphrase Newman,

    And this one thing at least is certain; whatever history teaches, whatever it omits, whatever it exaggerates or extenuates, whatever it says and unsays, at least the Anglicanism of history is not Charismatic Revivalism. If ever there were a safe truth, it is this...To be deep in history is to cease to be a Charismatic Revivalist.​

    I'll address it anyway. A being without parts, both physical and metaphysical, is incapable of undergoing change. This is the classical theism that the Church has always taught, starting with the Fathers, down through the Medieval/Byzantine periods, and the Reformers, including the Anglican Standards (to say nothing of the fact that a teaching of divine mutability would make an absolute mockery of and call into question everything the historic Confessions have to say about divine election and the everlasting nature of God's purpose):

    Articles of Religion
    1. There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions...

    Malachi 3
    "I the Lord do not change."

    Psalm 102
    "You are the same, and your years have no end."

    Numbers 23
    "God is not a human being, that he should lie, or a mortal, that he should change his mind. Has he promised, and will he not do it? Has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?"

    Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae
    It was shown above that there is some first being, whom we call God; and that this first being must be pure act, without the admixture of any potentiality, for the reason that, absolutely, potentiality is posterior to act. Now everything which is in any way changed, is in some way in potentiality. Hence it is evident that it is impossible for God to be in any way changeable.

    John of Damascus, Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith
    All things, that exist, are either created or uncreated. If, then, things are created, it follows that they are also wholly mutable. For things, whose existence originated in change, must also be subject to change, whether it be that they perish or that they become other than they are by act of will. But if things are uncreated they must in all consistency be also wholly immutable. For things which are opposed in the nature of their existence must also be opposed in the mode of their existence, that is to say, must have opposite properties: who, then, will refuse to grant that all existing things, not only such as come within the province of the senses, but even the very angels, are subject to change and transformation and movement of various kinds? For the things appertaining to the rational world, I mean angels and spirits and demons, are subject to changes of will, whether it is a progression or a retrogression in goodness, whether a struggle or a surrender; while the others suffer changes of generation and destruction, of increase and decrease, of quality and of movement in space. Things then that are mutable are also wholly created. But things that are created must be the work of some maker, and the maker cannot have been created. For if he had been created, he also must surely have been created by some one, and so on till we arrive at something uncreated. The Creator, then, being uncreated, is also wholly immutable. And what could this be other than Deity?

    Augustine, On the Trinity
    He is, however, without doubt, a substance, or, if it be better so to call it, an essence, which the Greeks call οὐσία . For as wisdom is so called from the being wise, and knowledge from knowing; so from being comes that which we call essence. And who is there that is, more than He who said to His servant Moses, I am that I am; and, Thus shall you say unto the children of Israel, He who is has sent me unto you? But other things that are called essences or substances admit of accidents, whereby a change, whether great or small, is produced in them. But there can be no accident of this kind in respect to God; and therefore He who is God is the only unchangeable substance or essence, to whom certainly being itself, whence comes the name of essence, most especially and most truly belongs. For that which is changed does not retain its own being; and that which can be changed, although it be not actually changed, is able not to be that which it had been; and hence that which not only is not changed, but also cannot at all be changed, alone falls most truly, without difficulty or hesitation, under the category of being.
    I rest my case regarding divine immutability.
     
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  12. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    None of which I am in contention about, God still distributes gifts severally, when God disposes. The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

    And God is still giving them.

    I rest my case regarding unbiblical cessationism.
    .
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2024
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  13. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I don’t think anyone on this thread has contended that the NT says anything to this effect. Which argument are you responding to?

    If someone believes that this or that “gift” or “sign” has occurred, which would authenticate their message, that’s fine. If they want to convince others of this, they can start by telling us when and where it happened, what exactly happened, who witnessed it, etc. I, personally, am not aware of any verified reports of faith healings, or people being brought back to life, or acquiring knowledge they couldn’t possibly have obtained in ordinary experience, or suddenly knowing a language they never learned. That’s the stuff of science fiction, not science.

    I would nevertheless be very interested in hearing about such an event if it did occur (despite my skepticism), but otherwise, I think it’s clear that an overly rigid stance regarding the status of the gifts in general - i.e., that they must either all be active or not active at all - theologically leads collectively either to a kind of Gnosticism, or Pelagianism. And, I don’t think any historic defender of cessationism has held that every item in the lists I quoted above went dormant after the death of the last apostle. That’s a Straw Man, and is, incidentally, just as unwarranted as claiming that none of the gifts must be dormant. No sane person would expect that people today, with enough faith, could part the Red Sea, bring down fire from heaven, calm storms, or walk on water. If that’s so, why fight tooth-and-nail against the contention that “speaking in tongues” (today) isn’t a genuine sign? Claiming “it must be so, therefore it is so,” is not a reliable way to discover objective truth (cf. C.B. Moss, The Christian Faith).

    The very center of Christian practice, both public and private, as understood by the Reformers, is the Word and the Sacraments, not "spiritual gifts," and not "charismatic" experiences. It is through the Word and the Sacraments that grace is communicated, and it is through the Word and the Sacraments that assurance of salvation is mediated and made firm, according to the Reformation Confessions. If charismatic revivalists add the "spiritual gifts" to the Word and the Sacraments, that is salvation by works; that is Pelagianism. If the "spiritual gifts" include a special kind of knowledge or awareness that is not mediated by the Sacraments and which not all baptized Christians can be presumed to have, but only those who have received a second, spiritual "baptism," that is esoteric Gnosticism. Neither has anything to do with traditional Christian (or specifically Anglican) practice.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2024
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  14. Tom Barrial

    Tom Barrial Member

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  15. Nevis

    Nevis Member

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    i agree

    great difference ,,,,

    what is described in the Bible is an event, when everybody understood everything

    what we hear today is ….. that nobody understands anything

    the exact opposite