Phil Johnson has decided to finally take up the debate on cessationism, with characteristic results: He was already well-known, and then he started making outrageous statements which go against the grain of readers who apparently read him for the benefit of being offended. For some reason, he seems to find this frustrating.
At any rate, he’s made several statements that are amusing to me (though probably infuriating and heart-rending for people with a disposition like my mom’s):
[Yesterday](http://phillipjohnson.blogspot.com/2006/01/youre-probably-cessationist-too.html) he made the claim that “Absolute non-cessationists exist only at the bizarre fringe of the charismatic movement.” His argument was something along the lines that every Christian who isn’t a total nutcase believes that something of the spiritual gifts have ceased. But the vast majority of Christians in the world are third-world, non-denominational pentecostal/charismatics, who have no reason to think that anything substantial has changed in the nature of God’s work in the world. I’d be willing to bet that they don’t have the theological sophistication to make the kind of distinction that Wayne Grudem and others have made to allow for “some” cessationism. Of course, most third-world Christians don’t have advanced theology degrees, so there’s a good chance they may be wrong, but you can hardly say they don’t exist. As it is, it seems that Phil has called the vast majority of the Church “fringe.” How else is the Bride of Christ like a flapper dress?
[Today](http://phillipjohnson.blogspot.com/2006/01/allow-me-to-reiterate.html) Phil asks, ” What ‘exegetical proof’ would you have cited in 18 BC to confirm the truth that no new Scripture had been written for 400 years, since the time of Malachi?” The first thing that comes to mind is Amos 8:11: “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Sovereign LORD, ‘when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.” Most people I’ve read agree that this verse specifically refers to the 400 year intertestamental period, witness the book of Macabees, where the Jews were unsure what to do with the sacred objects that had been desecrated, since there was no prophet to tell them what to do.
He also asks, “And does the fact that no Old Testament text actually predicted the cessation of the Old Testament Prophetic office alter the reality that the office did in fact cease?” This one I’ll give him: there is in fact, no Old Testament scripture which states that the Old Testament office of the prophet would cease. This is because the last “Old Testament prohet” was John the Baptist. It’s from Matt 11:13 and Luke 16:16 that you can come to the position that the Old Testament “office” of the prophet ceased. Unfortunately, it’s a little hard to support the idea that the Christian age equivalent is somehow inferior, since just before Matt 11:13, Jesus says that “the least in the kingdom of heaven” is greater than John. The only cessationism such a scripture could support would be a magnification, not a dimunition.
I wish I could devote more space to this, but I’m supposed to be packing right now. Tomorrow we’re driving to Oklahoma City, and Saturday, in the dead of the night, we’re flying back to Boston. Even now I’m shirking my work. If you have time, go read the comments on Phil’s blog and tell me how many people have successfully avoided embarrassing themselves…