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The Kingdom Case against Cessationism, reviewed by William De Arteaga

Robert W. Graves, ed., The Kingdom Case against Cessationism: Embracing the Power of the Kingdom (Canton, GA: The Foundation for Pentecostal Scholarship, 2022) 240 pages.

The editor, Robert W. Graves is a Pentecostal scholar and president of The Foundation for Pentecostal Scholarship. This non-profit encourages Pentecostal/Charismatic authors, with awards for excellent new works. Mr. Graves has had a long-standing passion to defend Charismatic and Pentecostal claims of the present-day activity and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The topic of the book, a rebuttal of cessationism, is both important and sad. It is sad because many good Christians still dispute the reality of the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12–14) in the life of the contemporary church. This is over a hundred years after the Azusa Street revival and over sixty years after the Charismatic renewal burst among mainline churches. The suspicion and resistance to the operation of these gifts came under renewed attack in recent decades by the popular and influential ministry of the Rev. John MacArthur. His radio ministry and multiple books have lambasted gifts of the Spirit as bogus and their practice as heretical. This reviewer has had the honor of being the object of his critical comments with an entire chapter criticizing my work.[1] In fact Mr. Graves edited an earlier volume of essays dedicated to responding to MacArthur’s cessationist best-seller, Strange Fire.[2]

The Kingdom Case against Cessationism has a forward by Dr. Craig Keener, currently the most well-known and distinguished Charismatic New Testament scholar. The book is made up of 12 chapters by various authors, several of which are widely known and respected, such as Randy Clark and Michael Brown. But all are distinguished scholars in their fields.

The articles are uniformly excellent, and I found Randy Clark’s contribution, “The Inaugurated Kingdom of God–Now and Not Yet,” particularly useful. The same for Mr. Graves’s contribution, “Cessationism and the Struggle for the Promises and Commands of Jesus.”

The Kingdom Case against Cessationism contains three essays by Jon Ruthven, whose death has been a serious loss to Pentecostal scholarship (and to whom this book is dedicated). They were taken from his PhD masterpiece that also produced On the Cessation of the Charismata.[3]

The Kingdom Case against Cessationism has an index of persons as well as an index of biblical citations and ancient church sources. It is especially valuable to pastors and church leaders who have people in their congregations who still hold to the cessationist view. It is a handy source of biblical answers to the folly and “heresy” of cessationism. Mr. Graves is to be commended for his scholarly and useful work for the Charismatic/Pentecostal churches.

Reviewed by William De Arteaga



[1] John MacArthur, Reckless Faith (Crossway, 1994).

[2] (Nashville Thomas Nelson, 2013) See Strangers to Fire: When Tradition Trumps Scripture (Tulsa: Empowered Life Academic-Harrison House, 2014). [Editor’s note: See the Strange Fire roundup at “Are Pentecostals offering Strange Fire?” See also the interview with Strangers To Fire editor Robert Graves and reviews by Tony Richie, John Lathrop, and further reflections by Jon Ruthven.]

[3] Jon Ruthven, On the Cessation of the Charismata (Tulsa: Word and Spirit, 2010). [Editor’s note: See Amos Yong’s review of Jon Ruthven: On the Cessation of the Charismata.]

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Category: Spirit, Winter 2024

About the Author: William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major works include Quenching the Spirit: Discover the Real Spirit Behind the Charismatic Controversy (Creation House, 1992, 1996), Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Zondervan, 2002), Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Wipf & Stock, 2015), and The Public Prayer Station: Taking Healing Prayer to the Streets and Evangelizing the Nones (Emeth Press, 2018). Bill pastored two Hispanic Anglican congregations in the Marietta, Georgia area, and is semi-retired. He continues in his healing, teaching and writing ministry and is the state chaplain of the Order of St. Luke, encouraging the ministry of healing in all Christian denominations. Facebook

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