Article in Review -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 04:3 (Summer 1995)
Article: Article in Review
Author: Anonymous

Article in Review

The Sparrow in the Hurricane, A Review of Jack Deere’s. Surprised By the Power of the Spirit, R. Fowler White

With the release of Jack Deere’s book, Surprised By the Power of the Spirit, the church can look at her debate over the Spirit’s gifts from a new angle. Now the confessions of a former cessationist—and a former faculty member at Dallas Theological Seminary to boot—are in print. No mere anthology of “confessions,” this book is a “real barn burner” assault on “the traditional Protestant position that the miraculous ministry of the Holy Spirit has ceased.” 1 While it is neither, shrill nor vitriolic, the book truly “allows no neutrality” and “calls for a response, one way or the other, not a reaction.” 2 If this is so, what should so-called “traditional Protestant” cessationists make of Deere’s work? In addition, what can they learn from Deere, and what can they hope that Deere would learn from them? Without presuming to answer these questions for all cessationists, I propose to offer what I hope is no mere reaction to Deere’s thesis, but a response that highlights issues that must be addressed by Deere and his fellow noncessationists if cessationists and noncessationists are ever going to get on a path to rapprochement. 3

This review is divided into two sections, the first dealing with general observations, the second devoted to hermeneutical and redemptive-historical issues. While along the way I shall interact with certain systematic-theological or church-historical matters, I shall focus on the assumptions that govern Deere’s approach to the Bible in whole and in part. Essays like G. L. W. Johnson’s earlier review in this journal provide fuller commentary on the systematic-theological and church-historical dimensions of Deere’s work.

General Observations

Definition of Key Terms. Deere defines the cessationist in the endnotes of his book as “someone who believes that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased with the death of the last apostle or shortly thereafter” (p. 267, n. 1). That may be reasonable to a point, but Deere would have done better to specify which gifts are in view. In the body of the book, cessationists are said to espouse the cessation of all miracles, even to the exclusion of supernatural healings, and, quite astoundingly, the passing away of “the gifts of the Spirit” (see Chapter 8 as a whole; pp. 99, 135, 154). Here, we have to say, is a certain slippage and sloppiness in the definition of key...

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