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Jon Ruthven

This paper was written by Jon Ruthven.

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Jon Ruthven is a Professor of Systematic Theology at Regent University School of Divinity, Virginia Beach, Virginia.


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Articles > Charismatic Theology > On the Cessation of Charismata

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F. Implications and Conclusions

    The frequent failure. to respond to God's commands to manifest the Kingdom of God in power is fully shared by most believers, "charismatics" and non-charismatics alike. Both groups tend to shape their theology and consequent practice on the basis of their own experience--or lack of it--rather than on a fresh and radical (in its original sense) view of Scripture. The presence or absence of certain charismata in one's experience proves nothing at all about one's spiritual status or destiny (Mt 7:21-22). Neither "charismatics" or "non-" are more or less "saved" than the other; both are at once sinful, but justified by grace alone. Nevertheless, the NT offers patterns as to how the Gospel is to be presented, received and lived out. We must not attempt to reframe our failures into virtues, that is, by allowing what the New Testament describes as "unbelief" in and for the gifts of God, to be construed as having chosen "the better way" of a "stronger faith" without them. The rabbis' intellectualized biblical knowledge which led to their cessationism, prompted Jesus to affirm that they knew (in the biblical sense) "neither the Scriptures nor the power of God" (Mt 22:29 Mk 12:24).

    Much divisiveness over the gifts of the Spirit today derives from a common premise held by both sides of the debate: evidentialism. If spiritual gifts are adduced as proofs of spiritual status or attainment, rather than used as tools for humble service for others, then conflict naturally follows. The core temptation to the first and Second Adam, and by extension to all of us, was to use spiritual knowledge and power to accredit one's independent and exalted religious status, instead of through them, rendering glory, obedience and service to God. Spiritual gifts are powerful weapons against the kingdom of darkness; but misapplied in evidentialist polemics they can wound and destroy the people of God.

    The charismata, then, reflect the very nature of God, who does not share his glory with another. Similarly, God is a Spirit of power, "who changeth not." If the Church has "begun in the Spirit," let us not attempt to change God's methods to complete our course in the weakness of human flesh. Since it is the Father's pleasure to "give good gifts to them who ask Him," it must be our pleasure to receive them humbly.
 



On the Cessation of Charismata (Jon Ruthven)

"This article is an adaptation of Chapter 4 from the book based on the author's PhD dissertation, On the Cessation of the Charismata: The Protestant Polemic on Post-biblical Miracles (Sheffield, UK: Sheffield University Academic Press, 1993). & copy;1996 Jon Mark Ruthven, Ph.D. This book can be ordered from Amazon Books.

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