News | On-stage Team Debate: Are the Gifts of the Spirit for Today?

Why did the charismatic run the red light? Because God didn’t tell them to stop. Or how can you tell when you’re at a cessationist’s baby shower? Cause nobody brought any gifts.

On-stage debate: Are the Gifts of the Spirit for today?

It’s often a good idea to have a sense of humour about these things, but all jokes aside, if you’ve been in Christian circles long enough you’ve no doubt heard the debate on whether the gifts of the Spirit and miracles are for today or not? Famous theologians on both sides of the aisle have passionately debated these two opposing views for quite some time. It’s no secret that as a church, we as JoshGen affirm the charismatic and continuationist view that the gifts of the Spirit are still for today. And as such, putting on a debate where both teams are comprised of JoshGen leaders, was in its own right quite the challenge (since as you can imagine one of those two teams had to argue for the cessationist view that the gifts of the Spirit are no longer for today).

So first off, why even do a debate? As a church passionate about seeing the Bride of Christ spotless, healthy and built on the blueprint and model we see in the New Testament, we firmly believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are an essential part, not only in the life of each believer, but also in the life and health of the local church.

And as such putting on a debate seemed like a perfect equipping opportunity. In reality, due to the shear amount of information and various opinions that are so prevalent in our day, many Christians will be challenged with hard pressed questions on whether they should expect the gifts of the Spirit to still operate today. Therefore a formal debate on the subject matter seemed like a great opportunity to expose members of JoshGen to many of the cessationist arguments they might encounter, while at the same time equipping them with sound Biblical doctrine on why they can trust that the gifts of the Spirit are still available to each and every one of them, today!

Luke Hulley stating his case

Obviously, the debate had to be as authentic as possible and as such one of the goals was to present both sides of the argument fairly and accurately. Both teams were comprised of a variety of some of JoshGen’s finest teachers and minds, each doing their best to represent their arguments sincerely and as accurately as possible. All I can say is, well done! There were several times where I thought that those on the cessationist team (many of whom I know personally) were so convincing in their role as cessationists that I thought they might actually believe the stance and views they were so passionately advocating for. Obviously as charismatics and continuationists we can never, absolutely perfectly represent the cessationist view, but one thing was clear, both teams did a great job representing the two sides of the argument.

In total, the debate ran for about two and half hours as the teams passionately presented their arguments, running ever so slightly over their time limits. The format for the evening were as follows:

  • 36 minutes per team for introductory statements
  • 12 minutes per team for rebuttals
  • Then 15 minutes per team for cross examinations
  • And finally 5 minutes per team for conclusions

The venue was jammed packed and cheers and laughs could be frequently heard from the audience as the two teams sparred against each other. Both sides made good arguments and things even got quite lively during the cross examination, with Bret Bevan at one stage trying to switch teams. It was a great evening. The cessationist team did a great job representing and honouring the viewpoint of cessationists, while the charismatic and continuationist team solidly presented arguments and evidence from the Bible as to why the gifts of the Spirit are still available and in operation today. Overall the evening was a great success.

Often when debating subjects like these, things can become quite heated, especially since we’re passionate about what we believe and the things we hold dear. It was only fitting then that the evening ended off with some great take aways and things to keep in mind when discussing matters of faith. Here are just a few of those take aways:

  • Both cessationists and continuationists love the Lord and want to see His Kingdom advanced and established in the hearts of people
  • That while we may disagree with each other, we can do so with grace, honour and respect. As the old adage goes, which is attributed to Rupertus Meldenius: “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”
  • While we may encounter extremes and abuse of certain teachings and doctrines, we should not in reaction go into misuse when it comes to these teachings and doctrines, but rather correct use firmly based on the totality of Scripture.
  • That as charismatics and continuationists we have sound Scriptural grounds for our beliefs in the continuation of the gifts of the Spirit and miracles today
  • And finally, that as believers, we should equip ourselves, know what we believe and why we believe it, and as 1 Peter 3:15 says be ready to give a defence for the hope that is within us… with “gentleness and respect” [ESV]

I for one am looking forward to the next JoshGen debate. And if its anything like the last one, make sure to keep an eye out for the next event so you can ensure you get a seat, since it will probably be even bigger and even better.

Petrus Venter

Petrus Venter

Petrus is on staff at JoshGen, serving in the film ministry. He does not like long walks on the beach, and only believes in running for Jesus. Petrus however is passionate about seeing the community lifestyle described in Acts 2:42-47 lived out within the church and seeing her restored to God's original intent.

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