Everyone’s favorite Vulcan, Star Trek‘s Mr. Spock, was forced to deal with illogical humans on a daily basis. But as any casual observer of the show knows, Spock was routinely stymied by the fact that the illogical humans got results. He was even forced to think like them on occasion. In one classic episode, Spock blew the mind of some robots even more logical than himself by resorting to illogic in order to save the crew of the Enterprise.
In the battle over cessationism, I was thinking today about a piece of illogic that strains the credibility of those who champion cessationism. For those unfamiliar with cessationism, the proponents claim that the supernatural gifts of the spirit ceased with the deaths of the apostles. A quick reminder of those gifts:
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
—1 Corinthians 12:4-11
Beyond the enormous issue of asking when the gift of faith passed away, the one that I am not getting is the logical assertion by cessationists that the gift of the discerning of spirits has passed away.
Any quick read of major cessationist authors reveals a loop of illogic that would probably send Spock into fits: the fact that cessationists claim to be able to discern that the spirit behind the modern charismatic gifts is not the Spirit of God.
Think about that for a second. If that gift has passed away, then what are cessationists using to discriminate the spirit that is fueling the charismatic excesses they despise? Are they using the very gift they claimed passed away?
Truly this is a loop of illogic that Spock would have had an aneurysm over.