Monday, October 21, 2013

Steve at Triablogue discusses "when the perfect comes" and how the old cessationist exegesis of the text fails

It's Steve, so it's not short.  :)  We'll simply quote some of what he wrote and you can read the rest if you like:
ii) A cessationist alternative is to claim that Paul is alluding to the closure of the canon. Once Christians have the complete canon of Scripture at their disposal, the need for revelatory gifts like tongues and especially prophecy will be moot.

This interpretation has generally fallen out of favor in scholarly circles, but it still has defenders in some cessationists pockets. For instance, Bruce Compton of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary tries to rehabilitate this interpretation. Let's call this the "canonical interpretation" of 1 Cor 13:8-10). 

iii) I think the canonical interpretation is exegetically dubious. However, let's concede, for the sake of argument, that Paul is alluding to the closure of the canon. Does that give cessationists what they need?

Fact is, even if you grant that interpretation, it leaves the situation highly unstable and open-ended. It fails to solve the problem which the cessationist posed for himself.

iv) To begin with, it relocates the issue to the question of when the canon was closed. On cessationist grounds, what event counts as the closure of the canon? 

After all, this was debated in the Reformation. So you could say the canon wasn't settled until the 16C, with the Westminster Confession and the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion. If that's the terminus ad quem, then you'd have ongoing prophecy through the patristic era, Middle ages, and Renaissance. Clearly that's far too late for cessationists. ... [emphasis mine]
Uh, yeah, that would be a problem for a cessationist position, particularly if a properly Protestant confirmation was necessary for things to be settled.

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