I was reading a book review today and was reminded of the teaching that spiritual gifts have ceased (cessationism). I hadn't thought of this view in some time but I found myself dwelling on it for a while after this reading. In my view, how one views "spiritual gifts" is actually--in anthropological terms--shaped by the culture or culture that one is a part of and whether or not that worldview embraces or adopts such practices. Still, I'm wondering what you think about the matter? Are spiritual gifts part of your spiritual culture? Are they part of your worldview? Are they legitimate? Have they ceased? Do Christians today have the same spiritual gifts as those in antiquity?


  1. I am generally uncomfortable with the position of cessationism because it automatically discredits any counter-factual evidence and must assert with rather hollow conclusions that any visible spiritual gifts are manifestations of delusion, the devil, etc. And I am not sure that biblical evidence is all that solid to suggest that they stopped at some arbitrary 1st century date.

    Spiritual gifts must be a combination of culture, etc. because even if we are gifted, we are yet imperfect humans bound to our culture and to our nature. Like any thing that is given it can be mis-used, caricatured with social assumptions, etc.

    The main point is that there is too much counter-factual evidence that spiritual gifts exist in some form and the simpler argument is that they must be, in some way, authentic.

  2. I do not believe in cessationism, and for the reasons that Drew articulated, yet, there is something to be said for moderation in the use of these gifts and the understanding that they are gifts, but not the central aspect of the service that so many seek to make them.

  3. Drew,
    Really great thoughts. You touched part of the nerve on this issue for me, which I alluded to in my post: spiritual gifts as items of their culture. Maybe cessationists don't realize it but what they have done, from a socio-anthropological point-of-view, is to affirm: "This was part of the first-century Church's worldview but not ours." The irony of this is that it is usually staunch staunch staunch conservatives who say these kinds of things. Yet, they turn around and try to affirm sola scriptura like it's the basis of faith. I'm thinking here of someone like Jack Cotrell, for example. He doesn't see the contradiction in his methodology / approach. It's absurd if you ask me and quite laughable.

  4. Polycarp,
    I don't believe in it either; I think it is certainly part of my culture and worldview. And yes, there is a place for not going overboard with this stuff.

    I'd like to do more research on the relationship between gifts and cultural worldview, etc.