Three Arguments for the Cessation of Tongues -- By: Robert Dean, Jr.

Journal: Conservative Theological Journal
Volume: CTJ 09:26 (Mar 2005)
Article: Three Arguments for the Cessation of Tongues
Author: Robert Dean, Jr.

Three Arguments for the Cessation of Tongues

Robert Dean, Jr.


West Houston Bible Church, Houston, TX.


If and when the miraculous spiritual gifts ceased to operate has generated much debate over the last 100 years or so. The author expounds upon three major arguments taken from 1 Corinthians 13 to validate the consensus among conservative evangelicals that these gifts are no longer normative.


In a recent live radio interview regarding the subject of spiritual warfare and demon possession, the host suddenly realized I did not believe the contemporary practice of exorcism and healing were valid. He quickly switched course and inquired if I believed the sign gifts were for today.1 I replied that I did not, that they had clearly ceased by the end of the first century. Offended and taken off guard, the man defensively asked how I could hold such a position since there was only one conceivable passage in the Scripture on which I could base such a view. When I replied that there were several, he rudely hung up on me.

This conversation reflects the worst side of the debate between cessationists, those who believe the Scriptures teach that the sign gifts have not functioned in the Church since the apostolic period, and non-cessationists. Too often those in the noncessationist camp have been guilty in recent years of using propaganda techniques to misrepresent the cessationist position rather than sound biblical exegesis to challenge the cessationist position.

As a pastor, I have frequently been told by those sympathetic to the charismatic position that I was putting God in a box. This is a distortion

of the issue. The question is not, “can God the Holy Spirit still produce the gift of languages?” but rather, “what has God revealed about the purpose and function of the gift of languages and its limitations? “ What the Scripture says, not personal experience, is the only criterion.2

A second frequent unfair accusation is that cessationists are guilty of rationalism and common sense realism,3 and that at their core all cessationists are in fact anti-supernaturalists. This slander is far from the truth. All of the cessationists I know are profoundly committed to the reality of divine involvement in human history, the validity of miracles in the Bible, and the ability of God to directly interfere in human history today an...

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