Cessationism, Miracles, and Tongues: Part 2

This is part 2 of the series on cessationism, miracles, and tongues. The focus here is on why miracles were de-emphasized during the Reformation. Secondly, an analysis on the Protestant revision of miracles in the early church.

The Excess of Miracles in the Medieval World

Cessationism and the critical examination of miracles cannot be fully understood without first understanding the medieval environment they were birthed from. The following gives a brief portrait of the mystical medieval world and why there was an urgent need for correcting the abuse of miracles.

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Cessationism, Miracles, and Tongues: Part 1

Introduction to a four-part series on cessationism, the de-emphasis of miracles, and especially how it relates to speaking in tongues.

A sample of cessationism graphic from origins until today.
Click on the image for the full version

Table of Contents

  • Part 1
    • Introduction
    • Reasons for the rise of Cessationism
  • Part 2
    • The Excess of Miracles in the Medieval world and the need for correction
    • The earlier De-Emphatics: John Chrysostom, Augustine Bishop of Hippo, Cyril of Alexandria*, and Thomas Aquinas
  • Part 3
    • The Early Protestant De-Emphatics: Martin Luther and Jean Calvin
    • The Church of England and Miracles.
      • The Puritan Influence: William Whitaker, William Perkins, James Ussher, the Westminster Confession, and later Confessions
    • The Latitudinarians
    • The Rationalists and Deists
  • Part 4
    Cessationism from the 1800s and onwards: the Baptists, Presbyterians, B. B. Warfield, Christian higher education, John MacArthur, and more.

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A History of the Rise and Influence of Rationalism in Europe

The book A History of the Rise and Influence of Rationalism in Europe (2 vols., 1865) is a seminal piece of literature. This well written work helps to provide valuable insights for the modern reader with the backstory on the conversion of Europe from a mystical to a rational society.

This book was written by William Lecky, an Irish-Anglican historian and politician (1838–1903). He greatly succeeded in studying and narrating the complex and evolving web of rationalism, morals, miracles, the supernatural, Catholicism, and Protestantism into a systematic and comprehensive portrait.

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Summary of the Gift of Tongues Project: Introduction

A summary of the Gift of Tongues Project in three parts. The following are the results of a detailed study of the doctrine of tongues from inception until 1922. The results are drawn from the Gift of Tongues Project which had a fourfold purpose to: uncover new or forgotten ancient literature on the subject provide … Read more

Pentecostals, Tongues, and Higher Criticism

The relationship between Pentecostals and the historians Philip Schaff, F. W. Farrar and others along with their influence on the modern definition.

How the traditional definition of tongues all but died and was replaced by the Pentecostal practice of Pentecostal glossolalia — an umbrella term for the language of adoration, singing and writing in tongues, and/or a private act of devotion between a person and God.

Before 1906 there were only two definitions of speaking in tongues within the traditional Christian practice:

  • Tongues as the spontaneous ability to speak a foreign language not previously learned or known beforehand
  • tongues as someone speaking in one voice and everyone hearing in their own language.

In the 1800’s, this definition expanded:

  • Firstly, redefined as glossolalia: an ecstatic state that produces speech-like syllables. A social phenomenon, not a miraculous one
  • then modern Pentecostal tongues: a spiritualization of the glossolalia doctrine.

The Azusa Street revival began as a traditional Christian tongues doctrine: many people imbued with the Holy Spirit were perceived with the ability to speak a foreign language spontaneously. The Azusa people and those involved in the greater grassroots holiness movement saw this as a sign to evangelize all the nations. This theology was called Missionary Tongues.

As previously noted in Pentecostal Tongues in Crisis, Pentecostal missionaries arrived at their foreign destinations and discovered they did not have this supernatural linguistic ability.

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Solutions to the Pentecostal Tongues Crisis

Pentecostal solutions to the missionary tongues and gibberish crisis. Early Pentecostal excitement and enthusiasm for missionary tongues in foreign nations failed. They also had a serious challenge on the home front. The general public mocked them for speaking gibberish. These circumstances created an urgent need to build a Pentecostal apologetic for their speaking in tongues. … Read more

Early Pentecostal Tongues in Crisis

Two missionaries speaking in tongues to two Japenese people who do not understand them

An indepth look at the development, expansion, and failure of Pentecostal missionary tongues and a critical public that called it gibberish.

Early Pentecostalism and especially the Azusa Street outbreak of tongues in 1906 caused a revival in the practice of speaking in tongues. The outbreak initially continued a traditional one that parallels Christian history for over 2000 years. The early Pentecostals understood that certain individuals were inspired by the Holy Spirit to miraculously speak a foreign language. When this occurred, there was some perceived divine revelation on what language the person spoke. They understood this knowledge as a sign for the person to go to the people group or nation to tell the Good News. Unfortunately, this fervor was badly hit by a dose of reality. These Pentecostal missionaries arrived at their destinations and found that they did not have this ability.

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