Andrew Wilson on Spiritual Gifts

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Andrew Wilson on the historical argument of the Church Father’s experiences with the spiritual gifts-

“Justin Martyr claimed, ‘The prophetical gifts remain with us, even to the present time.’ Irenaeus said, ‘Those who are in truth his disciples’ performed miracles according to the gift given them, including driving out demons, seeing visions, uttering prophetic expressions, healing the sick, raising the dead, speaking in other languages, and declaring the mysteries of God. (Eusebius uses this excerpt to demonstrate that ‘various gifts remained among those who were worthy even until that time.’) Tertullian trash-talks Marcion, like Elijah on Mount Carmel, by daring his god to predict things to come, make manifest the secrets of the heart, interpret tongues or prophesy, before claiming that ‘all these signs are forthcoming from my side without any difficulty.’ Origen regarded the scope of the gifts as having diminished but certainly not disappeared: ‘there are still preserved among Christians traces of that Holy Spirit which appeared in the form of a dove. They expel evil spirits, and perform many cures, and foresee certain events, according to the will of the Logos.’ Basil the Great said, ‘The Spirit enlightens all, inspires prophets, gives wisdom to lawmakers, consecrates priests, empowers kings, perfects the just, exalts the prudent, is active in gifts of healing, gives life to the dead, frees those in bondage, turns foreigners into adopted sons.’ Cyril of Jerusalem explained, ‘He employs the tongue of one man for wisdom; the soul of another he enlightens by prophecy; to another he gives power to drive away devils.’ And Augustine, as we know, lists an extraordinary range of healings from blindness, rectal fistula, breast cancer, gout, paralysis, hernia, demonization and even death.

From a purely historical perspective, then, the idea that the miraculous gifts suddenly stopped when the last apostle died is simply untenable.”

For the full transcript of the cessationist vs. continuationist viewpoint (re: the gifts) between Wilson and Tom Schreiner, click here.

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