Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Dispensational Cessationism - Spiritual Gifts in View of Ones Eschatology

These are just some thoughts I first had about 3 years ago and never had time to jot down.

I have been thinking about the interplay between eschatology and one's view of the continuation of the spiritual gifts. There does not seem to be much written about it, so I will try and move the discussion forward.

As a quick primer, reformed/covenant theologians see the return of Jesus as the next major event in history, while dispensational theologians see the tribulation as the next major event (or the rapture depending on what camp you are in).  For a more in depth discussion of eschatology see my articles here:

A cessationist is someone who believes the gifts, usually the sign gifts, have stopped in the first century church. Another way to put it is that they see more discontinuity with the gifts in the current era when compared to the first century church. A continuationist/charismatic is someone who believes the gifts have continued and that there is more continuity in regards to spiritual gifts with the first century and the current church. For a more in depth discussion about this topic see my article here:

The Different Categories of Views:

1. Dispensational Cessationist (my view)

This view espouses that the current dispensation does not include the sign gifts. The key point is that though they do not believe the gifts are in operation for today, they do believe (whether they know it or not!) that they will come back during the tribulation. I have given this view a specific name so as to bring this to everyone's attention.  I think this view is the most attractive because it can account for why some people see the gifts stopping and why they continue. They have stopped because in the current dispensation they are not in operation, but they have not completely ended because they will be in operation during the tribulation. Why is that? After the rapture, there are no more Christians, thus God will need to have supernaturally gifted people to know Him and change the world in a mere 7 years! I suppose this view could also support concentric cessationism (see my cessationism article above for a definition)  as well, since there is not a hard stop to the gifts until after the tribulation or millennial kingdom.

2. Covenantal Cessationist

This is the traditional view that the sign gifts have ended in the first century. There is a lot of literature about cessationism from this point of view.  Since there is no tribulation period (for most covenantal theologians) and the next even in history is Christ's return, there are no role for gifts and will be no role for gifts in the future.

3. Dispensational  Continuatinist / Charismatic

This view would state this dispensation has access to the spiritual gifts. Not sure if I can say this, but I suppose the "second wave" and "third wave" believes could say those are different dispensations where God is working in a different manner. They also believe, obviously, that the gifts will also be in operation in the tribulation. 

4. Covenantal Continuatinist / Charismatic

This view states that the gifts have continued in the church since the early church and will continue on until Christ's coming.