Perspectives on Pentecost – Review part 4

Posted: November 5, 2014 by J in Bible, Book review, Church, Church history, Theology
  1. The question of cessation.

The temporary Nature of the Apostolate

The existence of ‘apostleship’ in lists of gifts is evidence that not all gifts are intended to continue. Are there other gifts that are ‘so integrally associated’ with the ministry of the apostles that they disappear along with the end of the apostolate?

The foundational character of the Apostolic witness AND of prophecy.

The Apostles witnessed to Christ and so lay out the once for all foundation of the church. Ephesians 2 associates prophets with apostles in this work. ‘They have a foundational, that is, temporary, noncontinuing role in the church’s history, and so by God’s design pass out of its life, along with the apostles.’ To those who might suggest that there are other kinds of non-foundational prophecy that continue, he responds that this is a misunderstanding of the ‘covenantal, redemption-historical character of all revelation’. He argues emphatically that, ‘Since the history of redemption has been definitively accomplished and since after Pentecost its ongoing movement is delayed until Christ’s return […] the basis and rationale for new revelations is lacking and revelation has therefore ceased.’ Ie. All revelation is about salvation, and salvation is sorted.

Three related remarks: First, ‘Scripture leaves no place for privatized, localized revelations for specific individual needs and circumstances.’ Second, there were plenty of prophets who spoke the Word of God for their moment but weren’t inscripturated. Third, Gaffin insists that having anything other than a closed canon ‘conflicts with the covenantal nature of all revelation’.

The cessation of tongues

This part of the argument follows simply from the first, given that he’s more or less equated prophecy and tongues. An interesting side point is the way he suggests (with reference to 1 Cor14:20-25 and an analogy with parables) that tongues fit in the context of the founding of the church by demonstrating God’s (new covenant) judgement and rejection of Israel, and so ‘intensify and harden unbelief that is primarily Jewish.’

Tomorrow, Gaffin’s conclusion and mine.

  1. J says:

    I would just like to add, after careful reflection on this subject, that the cover of Gaffin’s book is very daggy. I wouldn’t want to buy a book with a cover like that. Nuf sed.

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