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Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? Four Views


Wayne Grudem, ed., Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? Four Views (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996), 368 pages, ISBN 9780310201557.

Are the supernatural gifts for today? In this book, four different authors from four different viewpoints have sought to answer that question.

Could it be better? The four views represented are Pentecostal/charismatic, Third Wave, Open but Cautious, and Cessationist. Giving the Pentecostal/charismatic viewpoint is Douglas A. Oss. Dr. Oss is professor of hermeneutics and New Testament and chairman of Bible and theology at the Assemblies of God’s Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. Dr. C. Samuel Storms represents the Third Wave view, president of Grace Training Center that is connected with the Metro Vineyard Fellowship of Kansas City. Representing the broad center of evangelicals in what this books calls “Open but Cautious” is Robert L. Saucy, Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Talbot School of Theology in California. The Cessationist viewpoint is presented by Dr. Richard B. Gaffin. Gaffin is professor of systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. His book, Perspectives on Pentecost: Studies in New Testament Teaching on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1979) has already had a significant influence upon cessationist perspectives.

Although it is beyond the scope of this review to summarize the four viewpoints presented in this book, there are some points of interest that merit mention. First, one of the reasons this book makes such a considerable contribution to the discussion about the contemporary gifts of the Holy Spirit is that the authors have carefully chosen to avoid emotionally charged arguments. There is no name-calling or anyone taking cheapshots here. Defamatory generalizations are avoided and no one uses anecdotes about what an untrained popularizer in another viewpoint has said or done to demonstrate the author’s point.

Secondly, the balance that comes from approaching this subject on a theological and philosophical basis instead of an emotional one opens the way for real dialogue. As the authors express, there are things that each viewpoint can learn from the others. Third Wavers and Cessationists can still agree to disagree without losing respect for the other’s position. Both Pentecostal/charismatic and Open but cautious Evangelicals can admonish one another to pursue the truth of God’s Word by living it out in today’s world without demeaning or, worse yet, demonizing one another. Pentecostals, charismatics, and Third Wavers really do have much to learn from the rest of Evangelicals about the Word being our one rule of faith and practice. Likewise, non-charismatic Evangelicals truly need the power of the Holy Spirit empowering them for service.

The way that this book has come together certainly fosters on-going discussion. Each author presents their position and then the other three authors respond. As the General editor Wayne Grudem expresses in his introduction, it is also this editor’s hope that the discussion on this subject will continue. Since teaching on the Biblical use of spiritual gifts is much of the emphasis found within the Pneuma Review, it is our hope to in some way fill the call that Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? makes for continued contributions to this field of study.

Reviewed by Raul Mock


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Category: Spirit, Summer 1999

About the Author: Raul L. Mock is one of the founders and directors of the Pneuma Foundation and editor of The Pneuma Review. Raul has been part of an Evangelical publishing ministry since 1996, working with Information Services and Supply Chain Management for more than two decades. He and his wife, Erin, have a daughter and twin boys and live in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. LinkedIn

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