Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Continuationism is a theory that posits the miraculous gifts have not ceased. According to Scott Lencke, "There are varying beliefs within continuationism, but mainly it is the belief that all spiritual gifts are still available today."

For the open but cautious continuationist, like the a posteriori cessationist, this is a practical deduction. Some open but cautious continuationists may expect that miraculous gifts are still operable, but are not certain that they have witnessed them in operation. They are likely to be more open or desirous of finding that miraculous gifts are currently operable. In theory they hold that they either are or could become operable, but are more cautious of ascribing the work of the Spirit to certain events (such as miracles as tongue-talking) as others in the continuationist camp. The 2nd belief statement of the North American Baptist Conference is a possible example of an "open, but cautious" Baptist statement on the gifts: "At regeneration and conversion, the believer is baptized in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit indwells, seals and gives spiritual gifts to all believers for ministry in the church and society." (Robert L. Saucy, author of the "open, but cautious" view in Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?: Four Views, is an ordained minister of the North American Baptist General Conference.) In contrast, the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship is a group that initially formed with the National Baptist Convention, USA to  focus was on spiritual gifts. Statement II in "Full Gospel Distinctives" of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship: "We believe in the perpetual and continuing ecclesiastical value of all spiritual gifts for the edification of the body of Christ until the end of this Church Age, which will be consummated by the return of our Lord Jesus Christ."

For the moderate but full continuationist, this moves toward a theological deduction. These continuationist are roughly equivalent to the Third Wave View presented by Sam Storms in Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?: Four Views. They are "moderate" in their view of the miraculous --  particularly that they are not distributed to all Christians -- but they are "full" in their belief and witness that all spiritual gifts are operable in the present day. They believe the Baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at conversion, rather than being an event subsequent to conversion, but the believe that signs and miracles should and will accompany the gospel.*

For the charismatic and pentecostal continuationist, this is a biblical and practical deduction. They would interpret the Bible to teach that the extraordinary gifts still are and must continue be operable. At the furthest end of this spectrum, they may question the credibility of the professed Christian in whom the gifts are not operable.** Few of these are found among Baptists, as they usually gravitate away from the main body of Baptists after adopting such a belief system. Since Baptist churches are autonomous, some do choose to maintain the Baptist name, either as an independent local church or forming groups such as Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship or the Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church.

(to be continued)

* E.g. excerpt from the "The Ministry of the Holy Spirit" in the Vineyard Church's Core Values and Beliefs: "We believe in the present ministry of the Spirit and in the exercise of all of the biblical gifts of the Spirit. We practice the laying on of hands for the empowering of the Spirit, for healing, and for recognition and empowering of those whom God has ordained to lead and serve the Church."
** E. g. No. 8 of the "Statement of Fundamental Truths" of the Assemblies of God: "The Initial Physical Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit - The baptism of believers in the Holy Spirit is witnessed by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance."

No comments: