We are all suffering from our church traditions and cultures. According to our denominational or church backgrounds, we may have different concepts of miracles. This really is inevitable because we do not totally all study the bible by ourselves. All the time, we depend upon our elders, bible teachers and godly leaders to show us what the bible says. We make the assumption they are more knowledgeable than we are and so we simply trust what they have taught.
Our church traditions have their good points but many of these are producing negative results. Therefore, it’s not whether my church tradition is better than yours or vice versa. The key is to discover which facets of our traditions are in line with what the bible actually teaches and which are not. It’s dangerous to you need to take things for granted.
Through The Elijah Challenge ministry, we have taught many nameless and faceless believers from both mainline evangelical and Pentecostal / Charismatic churches. We thank God that several mainline evangelical churches are receptive to divine healing and the practice of healing the sick.
There are a few churches that believe miracles have ceased and therefore they cannot happen today. Through their teachings, essays and books, quite a number of these church leaders have buried divine healings and miracles in the grave of cessation. Regardless of many modern evidences of healing miracles they try to justify their belief by rejecting all these as counterfeits.
The cessation theory expounded by Benjamin B. Warfield, a professor at Princeton Seminary from 1887 to 1921, continues to affect many churches. Echoing Warfield, these Christians declare that God only allow extensive miracles in three periods of history, namely from the full time of Moses to Joshua, Elijah and Elisha. The next period was from the full time of Jesus to the Apostles. The final time when miracles will end up rampant will be the time of the Antichrist and the great Tribulation.
The churches that adhere to the professor’s assumptions and arguments ultimately placed on theological blinders – God will not perform any miracles outside these periods. According to them, all of the claims of healing miracles in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements are therefore either fakes or false miracles.
Like most of the modern cessationists, Warfield was not anti-supernatural acim. He believed that the supernatural activities within the bible were true. However, he strongly believed that the biblical spiritual gifts and miracles had ceased since the full time of the Apostles. Signs and wonders cannot occur within our era mainly because God apparently has no reason to make them happen.
I studied an 18-page transcript of a class lesson taught by a popular proponent of cessationism. This famous bible teacher begins with the story of Hobart Edward Freeman, a professor of Hebrew, Old Testament Studies, Philosophy and Ethics, who was simply later influenced by the Word of Faith movement. Freeman subsequently became very extreme in his teaching on healing and created storms of controversy by disparaging medical institutions, doctors and medicine. His faith-formula theology has caused him to show that God is obligated to heal every disease and infirmity if the believer were to response in genuine faith. He believed that if anyone who claimed healing and still continued to take medicine, the individual would not be expressing his faith with matching action.
Later, Freeman was charged by the us government for’negligent homicide’when some members of his congregation died due to the insufficient medical care. Women were told to offer birth at home, assisted by midwives, approved by Freeman’s church. Dead babies were prayed to be resurrected at the altar. Apparently, about 90 parishioners died during Freeman’s tenure. A couple of weeks prior to his appearance in court, Freeman passed away.
The bible teacher then listed his own choice of so-called extreme faith healers including A. A. Allen, Kathyrn Kuhlman to John Wimber. In careful calculated mockery, he says, “Now, it seems obvious, at the very least a curiosity to all of us that so many leading advocates of faith healing are sick!” He’s careful to indicate that several faith healers also died of chronic diseases.
After presenting an entire host of weird and ridiculous events that have been considered miraculous by the naive, the bible teacher hopes to convince his audience that folks who experience or believe in modern miracles are of similar category of naive people. Sounding benevolent, he warns that false signs and false miracles are the primary tool of Satan in the end times.
This cessationist claims that he believes God can still do miracles because God’s power has not diminished even yet in modern time. When he finishes that, he quickly emphasizes that none, absolutely none, of the so-called miracles experienced today is of biblical standard. He then reiterates his persuasion that both history and the Scripture support his belief that the gift of miracles, as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12, has ceased operating today. He challenges the Charismatics to produce one or more person who is raised from the dead. All the healing miracles, according to this teacher, are partial, gradual, temporary and on occasions, become reversed. They’re impossible to verify and apparently the only real instant miracles are those that have regarding psychosomatic diseases.
With heavy mockery, this teacher says that even though the Holy Spirit wants to release His capacity to heal, why does He choose to release it on individuals who are teaching bad theology. In true pharisaic approach, he declares that surely if the Holy Spirit wished to authenticate anybody with miracles, He might have chosen people like the cessationists because in line with the teacher, they were supposed to most skilled and teach the truest, purest, most profound and biblical type of theology. The arrogance of their theological prowess is evidenced but it is wonderful for us to note that whenever Jesus first came, He didn’t approach the so-called skilled teachers of the Torah to generally share the Good News. He instead called people who were not theological trained people such as for instance fishermen, tax-collector and even ex-prostitute.