By David Gunn
Numerous controversies have gripped the fundamentalist and evangelical worlds in the last century. Debates have raged over a whole panoply of issues: the inerrancy of Scripture, the relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility, the extent of God’s foreknowledge, the nature of justification in Pauline theology, the place of repentance in salvation, and the list goes on.
Among the most consequential of these controversies we must surely list the debate over the continuation of spectacular spiritual gifts. Since early in the twentieth century, Christians have disagreed passionately on this issue, and their theological conclusions on this point have led to markedly divergent ways of “doing church.” This is a serious issue which deserves our careful attention.
Unfortunately, in some cessationist circles this issue is too often avoided or downplayed. Even worse, it is sometimes oversimplified to such a degree that our position on spiritual gifts is reduced to a quick and easy exercise in proof texting, as though it were sufficient merely to gesture toward 1 Corinthians 13:8–10 and then call it a day. This kind of oversimplified approach will never do.
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