Hoekema on Cessationism

I’ve appreciated Anthony Hoekema’s Saved by Grace. I’ve used it as a reference book for years and am finally finishing up the few stray chapters that I’d not yet read. Hoekema was the Systematic Theology prof at Calvin Theological Seminary prior to his death in 1988.

I was surprised to learn that he devoted about 12 pages of the book (31-43 in the 1994 paperback edition) to present a clear cessationist argument, essentially arguing that miraculous and revelatory gifts were (a) apostolic and therefore (b) foundational, not permanent. If you have the book, it’s worth a read, at least the next time you’re thinking through spiritual gifts.

Edit: The following summary of Hoekema’s view is added (after the original post) for those who don’t have the book:

His argument grows out of the association of miraculous gifts with apostolic authority—Acts 14:3; 2 Cor 12:12; Rom 15:18-19; Heb 2:3-4. He doesn’t address 1 Cor 13:8-10 at all. Here’s the gist:
“From the passages just examined we learn that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit were ‘signs of an apostle,’ intended to authenticate the apostles as true messengers from God, and the gospel which they brought as the word of God’s grace. Since the work and witness of the apostles was foundational (see Eph. 2:20) and therefore unrepeatable, the miraculous gifts which authenticated the apostles are no longer needed today.” (Saved by Grace, p. 34)
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7 Responses

  1. What’s his take on 1 Corinthians 13:8-10? Especially vs 10?

  2. He doesn’t even mention it. His argument grows out of the association of miraculous gifts with apostolic authority—Acts 14:3; 2 Cor 12:12; Rom 15:18-19; Heb 2:3-4.

    He sees even Paul’s conferral of miraculous gifts to a church like Corinth marked not the permanence of the gifts, but rather his apostolic authority: “Is not Paul telling us here that the miraculous gifts which he was able not only to perform but also to transmit to others in Corinth served the purpose of authenticating his apostleship?” (p. 33)

  3. I’ve extended the original post to give the gist of his argument.

  4. Thanks for sharing this. I’ve been in a constant conversation concerning supernatural gifts with a couple of late-teens in my church recently. I’ll pass this along to them as well.

  5. The little phrase “signs of the apostles” brought to mind a great little book on the subject by Walter J Chantry with the same title: “Signs Of The Apostles.” Great little book.
    I can’t recall exactly where, but I do believe it was in that book that he said something like: “If the sign gifts don’t agree with what the Scriptures teach, they are wrong/false. If they do agree, then they are unnecessary.” Anyway, it’s been a number of years since I read that book, but it was GREAT.

  6. Hoekema’s got a whole book on this: [i]What About Tongue-Speaking?[/i] (Eerdmans 1966). It’s pretty good.

  7. There’s a great current post on Pyromaniacs, written by Dan Phillips, addressing the same subject. Well worth the read.

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