Monday, April 26, 2010

Supernatural Gifts

Just chewing on some things in light of the frequent cessationist vs. continuationist debates, and the more close-to-home impact of our senior pastor launching into several weeks preaching through 1 Corinthians 12-14.

So here's my question: Can somebody tell me which of the gifts in the NT aren't supernatural?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Supernatural" is such a vague word. To answer that question precisely requires a precise definition. I would say that the Spirit of God "naturally" produces certain gifts in believers as He sees fit, but does that count as "supernatural?"

But yeah, it's a tough call.

PastorAarn said...

If you're a cessationist, don't you have to believe that all the gifts are natural? To say other wise would mean that God is still speaking and revealing things so the gifts haven't ceased. Or maybe I'm misrepresenting the Cessationist position.

greglong said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
greglong said...

I don't think "supernatural" is the key word at all, because obviously they are all given and empowered by God the Father, Son, and Spirit.

The real question is which ones are revelatory and/or foundational and/or confirmatory (if that's a real word).

Unless you're arguing that all gifts are the same, Ben, contra Eph. 2:20?

d4v34x said...

When I was a kid in WI, we had an old house that still had a confirmatory attached.

ba-dump-bah!

Good point, Ben. Which possibly makes those who believe all the gifts have ceased more "consistent"?

ben said...

Let me jump off of the various comments and questions to drive home my point a bit. It seems that the discussion illustrates the need for it.

In our discussion of the gifts, we use lots of different words to categorize them—supernatural, sign, revelatory, foundational, confirmatory. Trouble is, not all of those words—maybe none of them—mean precisely the same thing.

Supernatural, at the very least, needs to come off the table. ALL the gifts are supernatural, at least as we commonly use the word "natural." They're all gifts of the Spirit. They aren't intrinsic to our nature. That's the point of texts that talk about them. The Spirit does a work in believers that's foreign to who we have been.

But to take it a step further, not all the "sign" gifts are "revelatory." Tongues and prophecy are spoken of as signs (1 Cor 14:22), but tongues aren't revelatory in the sense of new revelation, as the debate is so often cast. And there's clearly an unresolved debate over whether prophecy is revelatory in that, or any, sense.

Here's the point that ought to be beyond debate: Too often we use confusing terminology in our arguments, perhaps to prejudice the debate to favor the side we prefer. ALL the gifts are supernatural. SOME of the gifts may or may not fall into other categories, but those categories may or may not overlap. We're unwise and unhelpful to speak of them without precision.