I have recently run back across an older post by Doug Wilson that is simultaneously one of the more sensible things I’ve seen on the cessationism issue, and in another way, pretty silly.
“I don’t want a deep chasm between natural and supernatural. They are both part of the universe that God made, and they are woven together. So the fact that something is “spiritual” doesn’t make it inspired. Inspiration, of the kind described above, has ceased. But we still have spirits and souls and bodies, and the way they all are connected (within each man and between all men) is not something that we should allow materialistic atheists to define for us. The revelatory gifts have ceased. That does not mean that it is impossible for a man to be fey.”
Let’s grant all that for a second. If a man is fey, he ought to be fey subject to the Scriptures, in the service of Jesus Christ, for the glory of God’s kingdom and the benefit of the Body. He ought — not to put too fine a point on it — to behave generally in the way described in 1 Corinthians 12-14, the same way anyone should use any ability. That is, he should use his gifts lovingly for the edification and growth of the Body.
And what might such fey-ness look like? Well, it might look like…
- knowing things about people or situations that the person “shouldn’t” know
- preternaturally deep understanding, knowing what to do when the person shouldn’t have that kind of insight
- an unusual degree of trust in God for improbable things to come to pass…but they usually seem to
- an ability to make people feel better by touching or spending time with them, a pattern of people getting well with unusual speed around him/her
- an accrual of other inexplicable happenings around him/her
- a spooky ability to call out the secret desires and longings of a person’s heart
In other words, it might look like something you could describe as a word of knowledge, word of wisdom, gift of faith, healing, or prophecy…hmmm.
So when Grandma always seems to know when one of the grandkids gets hurt, even though she lives 900 miles away, what are we to call that? When a lady in the church is able to deliver on-target encouragement consistently to people whose life circumstances she could not possibly know, what are we to call that? When a man is able to identify the internal makeup calling of people he’s just met, turn them to living in the kingdom of God, and leaves in his wake a trail of transformed lives, what are we to do?
I submit we should kick the failed cessationist theological project to the curb and admit that the Spirit is doing, right in front of us, things which correspond to the words the Spirit used to describe such doings in the first-century church. Which is to say, we can either use the vocabulary God gave us, or we’ll have to make something up. Like “fey.”