I had an interesting conversation over the weekend. Someone asked me if I had become a cessationist. That's an interesting question... the more I think about it, I guess it depends on how you define "cessationist."
I suppose a "true cessationist" believes that the miraculous gifts which were in operation in the early church are no longer given today. They have ceased. If that is the case, I don't qualify...
Healing is deal-breaker for me on that one. I still believe that God can heal people. I don't believe that He absolutely must heal them if we meticulously follow a faith formula (that's a Word of Faith thing), but I do believe that miraculous healing can still take place. A true cessationist would probably deny that.
But the issue that prompted this conversation was tongues. I was talking to some people who, as far as I know, have never spoken in tongues themselves... but they are open to the possibility of it being "real" because they know & respect a few people who do.
I've been thinking about that. I know & respect some people who have had powerful experiences in Hinduism, the new-age, and even Islam. I've listened to their stories. I don't think they're making it up... they are sincere. But even though I believe that they experienced something, I do not believe that it is what they THINK they experienced. And honestly, I feel the same way now about some of my charismatic and Pentecostal friends who speak in tongues. I believe that they are sincere... but I don't believe that tongues (at least not the way it is practiced in the churches I used to attend) are real.
So does that make me a cessationist, at least on the issue of tongues? Well... not really. I don't believe that the "tongues" I witnessed in my charismatic/Pentecostal churches were even remotely close to the tongues that are described in the Bible... so in that sense, I cannot say that those "tongues" have ceased because I don't think they ever began in the first place.
So what about the genuine article, the way it happened in the book of Acts? Could that still happen today?
I suppose it could.
I also suppose God could part Tampa Bay so I didn't have to wait in traffic on the Howard Frankland Bridge...