Friday, January 13, 2006

The spiritual gifts and its so-called absence from history

One of the issues that almost always comes up in the discussion of spiritual gifts is the fact that the gifts of the Spirit seemingly died out in the history of the church. It seems, and I would like to stress the word "seems," that the gifts of the Spirit started diminishing soon after the first century and became "non-existent" by the middle ages.
Based on this, many claim that if the Holy Spirit wanted these gifts in the church throughout all of church history, then they would not be so notably absent in church history.
I am not sure who gave the go-ahead for this type of reasoning and when, but since when do we judge truth by our limited understanding of church history?
Nevertheless, if we have to judge the validity of the Spirit's working by our observances of history, then surely we are on dangerous grounds here.
The doctrine of the gifts of the Spirit is not the only doctrine that died out, or became severely minimised! Soon after the first century ended the doctrine of justification by faith became limited. By Martin Luther's time it was just about non-existent! When Luther made his remarkable discoveries about this doctrine, salvation of works was at the order of the day!
The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, is the One who teaches us of the vital truths of Scripture, yet the church was in ignorance of this truth for close to 1000 years. Does that mean that the Spirit did not want His people to know this vital truth?
Just because a doctrine seems to be out of use and unknown for a period of time does not mean that it has ceased altogether.
Just thinking...

1 comment:

Albert said...

Have you seen the article on this topic (from a cessationist perspective) over at Faith & Practice (

It be good to get your feedback on what's going on over there.

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