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The Bible’s Undertaker: Cessationism in Contrast to a Living, Miraculous Christianity


Twentieth century Pentecostalism reawakened the world to miracles. The growth of this movement activated individuals in established religion to wrestle with a major player on the world scene of Christianity. Even so, as Pentecostalism expands, the cessationist view resuscitates a theological position that corresponds with the European intellectual development of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries named the Enlightenment. The proponents of cessationism believe that their cause is true and just. As a consequence of the strict emphasis on Enlightenment presuppositions in theology, their belief system allows no place for the miraculous in Christian living. The thesis of this paper argues for the clear biblical authority and support for miracles in contrast to the problem of the unbiblical history of cessationism. The topic is divided into five sections. First, a presentation of the problem of cessationism and the purpose of this study is submitted. Second, specific historical figures from church history represent the foundation for cessationism. Third, historical antecedents supporting miraculous experiences are surveyed. Fourth, a theological and biblical critique of cessationism is examined. Fifth, concluding thoughts and reflections on the unbiblical basis for cessationism is contested by the biblical revelation of the miraculous in Christianity.

The problem and study

As a consequence of the strict emphasis on Enlightenment presuppositions in theology, cessationists’ belief system allows no place for the miraculous in Christian living.

Because of the remarkable growth of Pentecostalism in the past one hundred years, the reemerging development of the belief in miracles has spread into all denominations of Christianity. Many Protestant and Roman Catholic Christians speak about miracles as daily occurrences. On first thought, one may believe this idea is desirable. However, the opposition, teaching against the miraculous in Christianity, has become fierce. Jon Ruthven writes, “the cessationist polemic, which was often directed against persons or groups claiming religious authority via any exhibition of divine healings, prophecies or miracles, recurs consistently from within such conflict settings throughout the history of the Church.”[1] Today, fundamentalist teachers react with rash, unbiblical dogmas against the biblical precedent for the miraculous in the ministry of Christ and the believer.

The purpose of this paper exegetes the faulty presuppositions underlying cessationist opinion. This study examines the historical ethos behind cessationism and buttresses the biblical belief in the miraculous with Holy Scripture. In fact, the modern day cessationist view is not grounded in Scripture but rather in the principles of the Enlightenment, which support the secular American culture. An honest evaluation of cessationism would cause many conservative fundamentalists to reconsider the underpinnings of their belief system.

Notable persons from church history supporting cessationism

Specific historical antecedents for the unbiblical belief in cessationism are copious. Numerous Christians holding a cessationist theology have contributed to this investigation. This section discusses the remarks of five particular people: John Chrysostom, Augustine, John Calvin, B.B. Warfield and John MacArthur. Their outspoken influence creates a thread of unbelief and skepticism enduring two millennia of Christianity.

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Category: Spirit, Summer 2015

About the Author: Cletus L. Hull, III, M.Div. (Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry), D.Min. (Fuller Theological Seminary), Ph.D. (Regent University), has served as a pastor with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for 36 years and psychiatric chaplain for 34 years. He is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Biblical Studies in the Oral Roberts University College of Theology and Ministry. He has researched the growing Disciples of Christ churches in Puerto Rico and has an interest in the significance of the Stone-Campbell churches in American Christianity. His article, "My Church is a Mental Hospital" appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of Healing Line. He is the author of The Wisdom of the Cross and the Power of the Spirit in the Corinthian Church: Grounding Pneumatic Experiences and Renewal Studies in the Cross of Christ (Pickwick, 2018) and The Call: My Mission and Our Ministry at Trinity United Christian Church, Lower Burrell, PA (Word Association, 2019). Twitter: @cletus_hull, Facebook,

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