- Publisher: Presbyterian & Reformed Pub Co (February 1, 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0875522696
- ISBN-13: 978-0875522692
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.5 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #190,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Perspectives on Pentecost Paperback – February 1, 1993
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In places, the book reads almost like a commentary because of its exegetical depth and objectivity. His purpose in writing is to show what the New Testament REALLY teaches about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. His subtitle says everything - he really does do an excellent job in this regard.
His reasoning is also very good. He went far beyond the "prooftexting" and hackneyed arguments that is all too common on both sides of the debate.
I strongly recommend this book.
Baptism of the Spirit:
Gaffin says “Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit” (14). I agree. He further says Jesus’s “ministry as a whole is the baptism of the Spirit and fire.” I have nothing riding on this particular issue. I’ve always understood it, which I take to be the Reformed interpretation, that Jesus baptizes us with his Spirit at our conversion. Even power evangelists like John Wimber hold this view.
Gaffin makes a rather astute point: there is an “absolute coalescence, the total congruence in the church between the work of the exalted Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit” (19). This is a wonderful statement to which we shall return.
Prophecy and Tongues
Gaffin says the functioning of prophecy in the New Testament was univocal, meaning prophecy in 1 Corinthians is the same as prophecy in Revelation (58-59). He doesn’t list any Scripture to prove that assertion, but I see no reason to disagree.
Question of cessation:
This is the heart of the book.
Therefore, if “apostle”is a gift, and apostolate ceased, then other gifts might have ceased. True, but what conclusion does Gaffin immediately infer? “Nor, then, does the position that one or more of these gifts has been withdrawn, necessarily deny the authority and continuing applicability of Scripture” (Gaffin 1979, 90, emphasis mine). That is true, but it doesn’t seem to be the relevant inference. The correct inference, and the issue under question, is that the cessation of apostleship does not deny the other gifts.
Gaffin makes a decent argument that the work of apostles is foundational and is not to be repeated.
If I were a cessationist, I would take my stand on this passage and never leave. It is the only passage that remotely hints at cessationism. Gaffin does well and he focuses much of his argument on this passage. As such, he does a commendable job, though I don’t think it holds in the end.
He argues that “apostles and prophets” cannot refer to the Old Testament because of a) the word order and b) the context suggests the New Covenant (93). He further argues that the New Testament elsewhere (1 Corinthians 12:28) makes special distinction of prophets and apostles from the rest of the gifts (94). But is that how the passage reads? The larger context is:
And God has [r]appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then [s]miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.
It is not evident that there is a special subset of gifts that distinguish apostles and prophets from, say, teachers. Indeed, Paul seems to be simply listing the gifts. We are not warranted in saying x is valid today but y isn’t. Gaffin even appears to approach something like this observation. He notes, interestingly enough, that “the listing in I Corinthians 12:28 (“first apostles, second prophets, third teachers”) seems to involve a kind of hierarchy whereby each of the latter two consists of an aspect of the preceding gift(s), that is, prophecy is a function of the apostle, and teaching, in turn, a function of both the prophet and apostle” (52). If that’s so, how can the teacher function as an aspect of prophet or apostle if the latter two are no longer operative?
The Question of the Canon
Gaffin ties prophecy with the openness of the canon (99). I won’t give a full rebuttal here except to say he doesn’t offer a single verse. He cannot argue one because there isn’t one. The “canon” is a nebulous concept in Scripture. True, the Scripture does hint that certain New Testament writings are on a par with Scripture (Peter’s use of Paul), yet to say that the New Testament writers envision a coming “closed canon” that will cease all future prophecies is to go beyond the evidence.
Gaffin’s Concluding Argument
He writes, “The reason the gifts can be called apostolic and yet be present in others is that the presence of these gifts in other so thoroughly depends upon and flows out of the presence in the church of the (living, functioning) apostolate” (101). If Gaffin is right, and if we keep in mind the list of gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:28, we have to ask why some gifts (prophecy, tongues, perhaps miracles) cease but not others (teaching, administration). Paul makes no distinction.
Gaffin ends with a pastorally sane take on healing. Contrary to Macarthur’s rather hamhanded approach (Macarthur 175: “Such biblical-quality healing miracles are not being performed today.”), Gaffin admits God is still able to heal today and we shouldn’t discredit it, but neither should we put all our hopes on it (114). Amen.
We appreciate the grace and candor Professor Gaffin displays in welcoming continuationists as brothers in disagreement. Further, his call that continuationists and charismatics stop accusing their opponents of “quenching the Spirit” is noted and welcome (118).
Premise 1: Miracles only have a special revelatory function.
Premise 2: Special revelation has ended.
Conclusion: Miracles do not happen today.
This argument fails on both premises. First, while the book does show that miracles can function as special revelation, it does not show that this is the only or primary use for them.
Second, nowhere have I seen proven that the New Testament teaches that special revelation ceases with its writing. If John in the Apocalypse said something (supposing this writing to be the last), then I might believe the claim. But when John refers to "adding to this book" or "taking away" it is not clear he refers to anything but his own writing.
I would be happy to change my critique if someone should point out to me that I have misread Gaffin. As it stands for me, however, the book is a joke; and it reflects badly on contemporary reformed theology.