Q12 for Bryan: The Coffee gambit

In your Q5 answer, Bryan, you proposed a second "to do" for cessationist critics: cessationists should meet with continualists to "discover why exactly they're willing to continue their practice" in spite of criticism -- effectually, he should "take them out for coffee" to resolve the disagreement.

This question obviously drives to motives on the Continualist side, and the assumption is that the Continualists have pure motives. The conclusion, then, is that pure motives ought to close the question.

When I had this same discussion with Adrian Warnock, he asked me the obverse of your question: what are John MacArthur's motives for criticizing Continualists?

Why is it that when this matter is in discussion between Continualists and Cessationists, the default assumption of the Continualist is that Continualism is based on pure motives and Cessationism is based on bad/impure motives?  Asked another way, is there a biblical basis for the Continualist rhetoric regarding the motives of the two sides of this debate?

I don't think there is any general default assumption of the Continualist that Continualism is based on pure motives and Cessationism is based on bad/impure motives. Nor do I think my suggestion #2 in your fifth question can be understood and summarized fairly as me arguing and concluding "pure motives should close the question."

It's so easy for my own motives to be mixed. Sorting them all out is even more exhausting. I'd say equally true are the attempts of both cessatonists and continualists to make sense of the opposing view and to explore what drives or compels it. It's normal--especially if we're convinced the opposing view is wrong or even dangerous--and even more so if we used to hold the opposing view but don't any longer.  

It's easy to project our own self-discovered motives for why we used to believe a certain way--on to someone else who still believes that way. And that's not fair. But let's face it, there are a number of ex-cessationists as well as ex-charismatics (who'd argue from the Bible and experience) who all have their own story to tell which indeed many would personally and immediately identify with, perhaps many of our readers. Yet both groups would still have to accept not everyone will identify with it or walk the same journey they have to arrive at where they are today on this issue. That fact certainly plays a role in what's happening here--both sides weighing in ex-cessationist and ex-charismatic testimonies.  

I think a good example on the Cessationist end of what you've suggested Continualists are primarily guilty of would be John Macarthur's many comments and other things said at Strange Fire, but specifically his comments on John Piper.

The quote can be found here

John Piper's response to Strange Fire is here (which I'm sure you've seen), but I'll let you decide after reading and listening to both if Macarthur's words aren't a little truth and appreciation littered with some false assumptions and attempts to draw conclusions for a huge audience about the views and the motives/reasons why Piper believes the way he does. 

I mention Macarthur's comments on Piper simply to point out that assumptions and motive speculation occur on the cessationist side-- starting with General Macarthur himself. And this is just one example. Should we really tally up who has more? 

So if it’s okay for Macarthur to speculate publicly at Strange Fire about the motives of John Piper and others, who weren’t there to defend themselves for the sake of the listener, why is it unreasonable or “adolescent” as you put it, for Adrian Warnock to ask you why John Macarthur doesn’t seem to be open to allowing more public opportunity for these very men whose motives he’s speculating about, to defend themselves and converse with him in civil public discourse? Seems like a fair question to me Frank. It’s your response to Adrian, frankly, that came across as unfair and adolescent. Adrian's opinion of the conversation is hereAs keen as you and the parrots on your shoulder are at pointing out your opponents' alleged question avoiding and word twisting, I'm surprised no-one has taken you to task yet and bitten your ear for the level of disconnect you are responsible for in that exchange. Instead, all I've heard from your side is how unhelpful the exchange was as if the blame obviously falls on Adrian Warnock.   
That being said, I think asking the question, "Why?", and suggesting possible reasons without precisely knowing them all first, is common to everyone when grappling with how someone believes differently than you do. Perhaps in this debate, one shared tendency is for both sides to argue from their perceived strengths and compare those perceived strengths to the perceived weaknesses of the other side?   

The bottom line is that both sides, if given the benefit of the doubt about the best of their intentions, are attempting to defend and be faithful to what Scripture teaches and protect others from harmful error. I believe that some Cessationists, including you, are sincerely doing that (though in my opinion--from an incomplete perspective), but it shouldn't and doesn't stop me from exploring why they still believe what they do, what they say, and why they present themselves the way they do (as in the rhetoric at Strange Fire conference etc.) ,if I genuinely believe that much of what they're believing and teaching is false. 

At any rate, I don't think you can so easily decide that one camp is doing this motive gazing & guesstimates more than the other, especially in a way that would pin only one side down to have to answer a question like this. Therefore, our side doesn't need to defend that we've some kind of Biblical basis for any rhetoric regarding the motives of the two sides of the debate because we're not assuming in broad-brush fashion that Continualism is based on pure motives and Cessationism is based on bad motives like you've suggested we are. However, I think we can all agree, Biblically speaking, that heart and motive matters. 

What's disturbing about this question Frank is that while John Macarthur can accuse half-a-billion christians of some sort of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, counterfeit worship, and say things such as, "They feel like they have free license to abuse the Holy Spirit and even blaspheme His holy name. And they do it constantly", here we are also getting accused of presumptuous rhetoric about the motives of Cessationists. Really?              

Sitting down with the men I mentioned and other Continualists might just help you work through your own assumptions about their assumptions, and plug that chink in Cessationist armor which you suggest exists only in Continualist outfits.  But if not, in the very least you might discover how they like their coffee. 

Q12 for Frank: Arguments From Experience

Your response to Baby Step 1 in my last question was "I think there's nobody who's really willing to say that it's a lack of experience which has any persuasive weight: it's the lack of the actual Biblical signs and wonders which causes us pause."
To quote Deere's response to this common argument, (entire quote can be viewed here)
"At first glance, this reason for rejecting the gifts of the Spirit looks like a biblical argument, but ultimately it is not. At best it is a confession of a lack of experience. The argument simply says that I do not see or hear of a contemporary ministry that has New Testament-quality miracles. But my limited experience cannot be used as a proof that no such ministry exists today." 
But the most important for our readers:     
Despite the fact the Bible never categorizes the manifestations of the Spirit as "apostolic gifts" or "sign gifts", you have unfairly and persistently assumed that category on our discussion from the beginning--without having to defend its use first-- for me or our readers. 
I'd like to point out to the reader that the assumed yet undefended use of that category is an interpretation based in non-experience and theological prejudice forced on both the Bible and this conversation, but that truly stems from the cessationist tradition (interpretation of past and present historical experience), not from clear definitions or categories that Scripture teaches.   
However, arguments from experience (esp. eye witness testimony) can be very credible as J.P. Moreland noted in this quote about the vast evidence of contemporary miracles and the idea of "rejecting beliefs that have enough rational support to make them intellectually obligatory to believe."  
My question for you Frank is this:
All things considered, why should I or our readers consider your arguments from experience (or lack of experience) to be more intellectually obligatory to believe than say Wayne Grudem's and several others' testimonies of dealing with people who are demonized, my friend Michael Miller's testimony of seeing a deaf woman healed in Africa a few weeks ago, J.P. Moreland's testimony in his book, Matt Chandler and Bob Hamp's testimony, or my own testimony?

There are a lot of things in the world which should make a clever person cringe.  The most shameful is misusing Scripture; the second is putting words in someone else's mouth.  In this long-form "question," Bryan, you apparently are not above either.

To the assertion you make of whether or not Scripture defines what "signs and wonders" are, and whether or not they are common gifts or special gifts, I'll be pleased for you to point out where anyone not verbally sent by God does any of the things Scripture calls "signs and wonders."  Because that list is woefully short (it may be empty), then I'll be pleased for you to finally admit that there is a difference between a miracle and providence, or between prophecy and wisdom -- because as I alluded to earlier in this exchange, you simply don't have adequate categories to distinguish these things even though Scripture does. See: this is what is at issue, really.  The question is whether or not we see the Christian life the way Scripture sees it, including whether or not we live by wisdom or inspiration, and whether we should expect the ordinary means of God's grace to outpace the extraordinary means of God's grace because one set is in fact ordinary and the other is in fact something else more rare and particularly special.

What I have said, repeatedly, is not that we should doubt your claims of prophecy or healing or tongues because we have not experienced them: what I have said is that we should doubt them because you yourself have confessed that your experiences are nothing like Acts 2, or Acts 20, or Luke 1 -- they are far less.  That's your explanation for what you experience, and on that basis -- that is, the basis of Scripture proving false something outside of Scripture which pretends to be inside a Scriptural category -- we should reject that which is false.

That's not an argument from experience: that's discernment.  Though it is a harsh assessment, it's clear with this question that it's another category your side will not exercise in order to convince others of your points.

Q11 for Bryan: How the Other Half Lives

Bryan, you offered 5 suggestions in your answer to Q5, and I now have questions about those suggestions.

Your first suggestion was, in effect, that cessationist critics ought to see how the other half lives and deeply consider the "cautious continualist" response to the excesses of the movement.  I think this suggestion exposes a decent amount of naivete on your part.  For example, Michael Brown has used Benny Hinn as a platform for his campaign in response to the Strange Fire conference - that looks like the sort of thing the men from GTY were complaining about at Strange Fire.  They have inspected it, and it looks unfortunate for the Continualists regarding any kind of credibility when it comes to saying that they really do some sort of moderating of the movement.

So my question: How do we come to agreement on whether or not the Cessationist has treated the alleged work of the moderates fairly -- especially given your ambivalence toward anyone's ability to measure whether the Continualist camp is mostly-orthodox or mostly-unorthodox?

First I'd point back to my answer to your last question which I think reasonably addresses the "ambivalence" and "measuring" you're talking about; and point out that your use of "Continualist camp" here, but "Charismatic Movement" elsewhere, is confusing the categories. Those categories aren't interchangeable. 

There is also a difference between the "cautious continualist" response to the excesses of the charismatic movement and the "open but cautious" position on the miraculous gifts of the Spirit. I would never encourage someone to be simply "open but cautious" about earnestly desiring gifts for the building up of the church, but to go all out and pursue radical intimacy with God, maturity in love, and to ask Him persistently for spiritual gifts and a heart of compassion that truly builds others up in Christ and advances the Gospel of the Kingdom. This is important, because much of what you guys interpret as indifference to charismatic excesses in the conservative continualist camp is really not that at all.
You'll find people that are passionate about worshiping,  seeking, pursuing, and knowing the Lord and how He speaks and heals today by the power of the Spirit. As I've thought about it, something stands out to me. I don't know of any person who while they were passionately pursuing the Lord, learning about the gifts of the Spirit, and growing in Him in this way, had at the same time, a demanding itch that someone patrol the excesses of the charismatic movement. You do however have people like me with backgrounds that make them more prone to struggle naturally with fearful and harsh skepticism--so though there is discernment, there is also a needed humble openness that doesn't necessarily come built in with instant maturity or the black and white controls that accommodate scared people. This openness is what Phil Johnson has called "willful gullibility" and what makes it hard for cessationists not to think that if they're open to any of it, then they're automatically open to all of it.  In fact, after watching the Strange Fire conference live, the overall message I kept hearing was, "We are afraid, so we want you to be afraid too."
So my first reaction is to say that we probably can't come to agreement (as much as I'd like to). Agreement won't happen primarily because what we have at play here, which serves as the basis for pretty much all conflict, is competing values. We both value something biblical and "right" in this conversation that the other person doesn't value to the degree that we'd like for them to. And these competing values have obviously played in to our use of Scripture as well during this exchange. 
So here we are.  We strongly want the other to see it our way, to honor our perspective with the amount of careful attention we feel it deserves. Yet neither of us it seems, has the capacity to demonstrate a priority to really understanding one another. We simply want to be heard, not to hear.  I know it can seem sometimes like we're puffing out our chests in the locker room, but I really think both of us are beyond wanting to just be right. We are both convinced of our positions. We're both fighting for something we really believe is the truth. And in my opinion, we are both right, and we are both wrong. 
I think for the most part that it's unfortunate that this is what you have taken away from those 5 suggestions. What it says to me Frank is that you don't care about the suggestions in my answer to Q5, the ones that if you seriously considered,  might significantly challenge your perspective and understanding of the issues--perhaps in ways you'd eventually be very thankful for. Yet, on the other hand, I do understand why--because your values, what you have pressing on your heart and perspective right now still speak louder to you than the other things I've written...and there's nothing I can do to control or change that. It is for the most part what I expected. However, I do hope in a minute I can demonstrate more understanding and acceptance of your position.  
I can't deny, however, that coming to full agreement on "whether the cessationist has treated the alleged moderating work of the movement fairly" would definitely involve you giving more value and fair consideration to the Q5 suggestions as well as other things I've written. That is, after all, what you're asking us to do as well. You are asking us to openly consider the arguments, read the book, and consider whether or not we are treating the concerns raised by Strange Fire with honesty, fairness, and seriousness. Essentially what I understand you communicating to me is this:

Note: Word limit ends here
"Bryan and other continualists, the fact that Michael Brown fraternized with Benny Hinn speaks louder. In fact it speaks volumes. What I value, what I and cessationists have been talking about throughout this debate, what we think is most important and that you and your one tent camp of orthodox continualists should take more seriously, frankly, is way more important and larger an issue than you are giving us credit for. Here's an example of what we're talking about right in front of you and even it gets brushed off...leaving you guys way less than credible. That, is in our opinion, evidence that we don't have a broad enough brush to paint you guys with, and more pressing, frankly, than anything you'd like for us to take more seriously. I mean, how can we take you seriously? It's simply ridiculous and sad for you guys to demand we jump through continualist theological hoops and criticisms before you'd allow us the biblical responsibility to call out widespread destructive error (what you're not taking responsibility for), and yet pitifully and ironically at the same time mingle indiscriminately with false teachers and false prophets. You guys are all about the "command" to earnestly desire spiritual gifts, but what about the commands to refute false teachers? Instead, you are giving them a platform while trying to undermine ours. Makes no sense. That's why we say you've a massive discernment problem."
Is that anywhere close to understanding what you've been saying?
If you are one of the five continuationists or charismatics reading this, I'd like for you to seriously consider what I am about to say. I've been harsh with Frank and the hard cessationist position and expression, though to be fair, Frank himself is not the hardest cessationist out there.  I thought most of Strange Fire was heart-grieving and that John Macarthur and friends said things that were horrible and pastorally irresponsible--and that they did so from the false doctrine of cessationism and a religious spirit that they confuse with love and discernment. You can see I've intentionally prioritized communicating that in my other posts. But to quote or paraphrase Douglas Wilson on the matter, "They didn't have the Strange Fire conference for nothing." And of course, most of you get that.
One of their most sustained points has been that while we seem hesitant to judge and discern our own camp, we are swift to discern and cast our stones at John Macarthur and Strange Fire. I think there are some reasonable explanations for some of that alleged double standard, but I also think they are right. Put yourself in their shoes. If you are an ex-cessationist, think about how difficult it was or perhaps still is, to transition. Think about the individual struggle you had with that paradigm shift and then consider how unreasonable it is to suggest that same shift (theological and practical) should happen corporately to Macarthur and friends before we'd accept their rebuke and correction. Maybe what we have to say to them is falling on deaf ears because we too have not listened.
Think about it. If what we are claiming about the present activity of the Holy Spirit is indeed true and beautiful, and worthy of being explored, why would we not want to honor that work and protect it with integrity, discernment, and love? Wouldn't we want to take I Timothy 4:1 and other warnings more seriously? Yet there is an obvious confusing overlap in our associations that I have to say can't be ignored. It's confusing to many in the continualist camp and the charismatic camp--imagine what it says to cessationists outside our camp who definitely won't check their brain at the door and accept the testimony of every "inside man" who wants to exonerate charlatans in hopes of alleviating the cessationists' concerns. It's true cessationists overplay the guilty by association card and reject many genuine manifestations of the Spirit and should consider strange things that've happened in historical revivals. It's true they draw the line in places that we wouldn't. It's true that this continues to be a very Biblically nuanced debate that may never resolve.
But why would we unwisely put unnecessary stumbling blocks in the path of others and cessationists that make it harder for them to take us seriously?
I think I'm guilty of it myself, but I want to speak specifically to Michael Brown since Frank used him as an example in this question. I've read Frank Viola's response to this (which has something good to offer including Macarthur's appearance on TBN), but am unpersuaded still that your decision to "partner" with Hinn or use his platform can be seen as wise or helpful or that should escape our critical gaze because you went in with the best of motives and redemptive purpose.  
I mean, come on, if we can suggest that John Macarthur and friends fit the biblical shoe of the Pharisee better than anyone else, certainly we can agree that Benny Hinn fits the biblical shoe of the false teacher and prophet better than anyone else. Of course you might say, "Well then if we can share the platform with John Macarthur with a view to reaching a larger audience with the truth though not endorsing his specific views, then why not Benny Hinn?" To which I'd reply: It obviously becomes very important how we discern who is a false teacher or prophet and how we think we are responsible to handle them Biblically. And the point of the Strange Fire conference, that you illustrated so well by your attempt at a redeeming sort of appearance with Benny Hinn, was that we continuationists and charismatics seem to be losing our ability or even willingness to call out anyone---that built in to our fabric is the growing inability to discern and willingness to discriminate and call a spade a spade. But when it comes to calling Macarthur out, well, we've no reservations. Put yourself in Macarthur's shoes and see if the same stumbling blocks we present don't trip you up.
One last thing and I'll wrap this up. As I've said, though my actual experience with the gifts and charismatic church life has been healthy, I noticed this "overlap" in charismatic/continualist associations early on.  Before my wife and I were married, she went with a group to IHOP in Kansas City for the New Year's One Thing conference. I was young in my charismatic journey and had very little knowledge about IHOP at the time and as I've alluded to before--I would occasionally pull back in to my self-protective heart helmet mode. Well, you can imagine when I came across Andrew Strom's documentary on Youtube about how the Kundalini Spirit was invading the church and he included IHOP and others in with his critique, I became very fearful and concerned. I did some "guilty by association" logic that literally made me freak out. In fact when she got back in to town, I actually made it a point to sit down with her to watch John Macarthur videos on discernment:) I look back at that time now and realize how my fear led me to control her though I was insistent my motives were mixed with something good as well.
No matter what you make of Andrew Strom's documentary or Randy Clark's response to his documentary, the reality is that "The Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons."--I Timothy 4:1 
How will we discern? Cessationism and fearful phariseesm doesn't protect us, but neither does indiscriminate overlapping associations and willful gullibility.  
So all that to say....Frank, I don't know how we can come to full agreement other than to say that you and cessationists are both right and wrong, just like I think we are right and wrong. You've treated our work fairly and unfairly as we have you guys--based on the competing values each side has. I've spent much time here trying to demonstrate I understand your side. But I will never deny that you guys have also, with Strange Fire ( The Half Truth Matters conference sponsored by Grace and Fear To You), created stumbling blocks for yourselves, the continuationist , and charismatic that I think you're going to have to address more honestly before you have more ears open up.

Q11 For Frank: Why Not Take The 3 Baby Steps?

These words are taken directly and extensively from Jack Deere's must read book, "Surprised By The Power Of The Spirit", however Jack does not refer to any of these arguments as "baby steps cessationists take before becoming ex-cessationists". I've taken his arguments from chapters 4 and 5 and the liberty to quote him extensively and present them in this way. Will you permit the set up to this question to go longer than usual?
Three Common Baby Steps Cessationists Commonly Take Before Becoming Ex-Cessationists:
Baby Step 1.  They realize they disbelieve in the miraculous gifts of the Spirit not because Scripture clearly teaches they've passed away, but primarily because they've have not experienced them; that their appeal to history, the misuse or perceived misuse of the gifts, and the alleged absence of New Testament quality miracles today,  are all arguments from experience--actually, arguments from a lack of experience and negative experience.
Baby Step 2.   They realize they've made a false assumption that the healing gifts of Jesus and the apostles were "automatic". That is, they understand neither Jesus nor the apostles could heal anyone, anywhere, anytime, at will (Luke 5:17; John 5:6; John 5:19; Mark 6:5-6; John 15:5; Acts 3:12-13; Acts 14:9-10; Matthew 17:16-20). They see that the apostles' relationship to the Lord and our relationship to him is far too personal for such a mechanical explanation of the gift of healing. Therefore they should not be looking for or expecting to find people who can heal at will.
Baby Step 3.  They see that they have falsely equated the apostle's ministry of signs and wonders with the healing gifts given to average Christians. They accept in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 that Paul is describing miraculous gifts that are given to the whole Body of Christ, not just to the apostles, and that there is an abundance of evidence for this widespread distribution of gifts (I Thess. 5:20; Rom. 12:6; Eph. 4:11; Acts 11:27; 13:1; 15:32; 19:6; 21:9; Acts 2; Acts 8:5; Acts 10:46; Acts 19:6; Gal. 3:5; I Peter 4:10) which vary in strength (Romans 12:6; I Cor.14:18; 2 Tim. 1:6). They accept it to be simply unreasonable to insist that all miraculous spiritual gifts equal those of the apostles in their intensity or strength in order to be perceived as legitimate gifts of the Holy Spirit.
I'm assuming you are quite familiar with these Baby Steps but still remain unconvinced and unpersuaded to take them.  Why?

Regarding Baby Step 1, the problem is not a lack of experience on my part.  In fact, I think there's nobody who's really willing to say that it's a lack of experience which has any persuasive weight: it's the lack of the actual Biblical signs and wonders which causes us pause.  As I have said elsewhere in this exchange, the problem is not that you are asking me to believe in miracles, or even in God's real presence among his people: you are asking me to accept something which does not resemble prophecy, and healing on command, and speaking in tongues as those things.  If we have to accept that the Bible doesn't give an expiration date for the apostolic gifts, we also have to accept that it actually does describe these gifts extensively, and your side doesn't demonstrate them at all.

I haven't rejected what the Bible describes: I have rejected the counterfeits your side presents as different than what the Bible presents.

Step 2 is, sadly, a version of Step 1.  I enjoy seeing Luke 5 and John 5 tossed out as examples of Jesus being unable to heal, but because the text says something else I have to refuse to accept it.  Step 3 doesn't fare any better.

See: it is perplexing to be asked to believe that there is a continuation of the apostolic gifts -- under the qualification that these are nothing like the apostolic gifts.  In a previous question, Bryan, you asked me why I thought these gifts were "for Apostles Only," and I answered -- but here you are now arguing that there were gifts for the Apostles only, and our expectations for what we might experience -- that is, what you say "continues" -- have to be lowered in order to see if there is anything there at all.

When that happens, you betray all the bold rhetoric about sonship, and "Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever" and the presence of the Holy Spirit as just bluster.  You personally do not believe that you are experiencing a continuation of the Apostolic gifts, and what you say you are experiencing is, frankly, not required for any believer in the NT.  So for me to say that I'm doing well to look in God's word with God's people and receive God's blessing in the fruit of the Spirit -- Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, etc. -- as sufficient is not any kind of heresy or blasphemy.  It's simply not accepting watered-down versions of "signs and wonders."

I think God is alive, and is living in His people.  I think regeneration is a work of God only.  But I am equally certain that what is not necessary is a continuation of Apostolic signs and wonders unless there is an on-going necessity for Apostles.

Q10 for Bryan: Counting noses

Bryan, in your answer to Q#4, you made the sort of statement every advocate for Charismatic Gifts makes: you really have no idea how to determine how many in your camp are orthodox and how many are unorthodox.  However, it seems to me that all of you also make a basic assumption: of course the people you represent are overwhelmingly orthodox.  That assumption underlies all of the arguments in favor of the continuation of gifts.

How should the Cessationist approach that assumption, given that you have plainly said that there's no way to verify it?

First, understand there's a huge accounting difference between asking us to verify how many in the entire charismatic movement are in healthy practice, as opposed to just asking us to verify how many in our local church or network of churches are in healthy practice. Why is our initial response to that kind of accounting hard to understand? Even you said, "I don't think there's any kind of growing passion or acceptance of continuationism in 'respected scholars and pastors' which is quantifiable." Yet it's obvious the reformed charismatic movement is growing rapidly. And the increasing numbers of those pastors and sheep that you say can't be quantified would be included in the accounting you are asking us to take responsibility for as they seek to practice the gifts in a healthy way.  
Second, it's not an assumption that those we represent locally are in healthy practice, it's observation and experience with our own local congregations, each with their own shepherding strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, the reality of the continuation of the gifts is not contingent on perfect orthodoxy or practice, so you shouldn't find us arguing for continuation based on our own healthy functioning. The Holy Spirit gave gifts to both the Corinthian church and the Galatian church, each with their own doctrinal and personal problems. The continuation of the manifestations of the Spirit are still distributed according to His will (Hebrews 2:4;I Cor.12:11). He obviously can choose to give and take away, for many reasons which could include unsound teaching that's crept in to the church, but scripture seems to point to Him still giving these gifts of Himself in the midst of abuse and doctrinal issues.        
As far as I know, you'd probably be welcome to go and observe different congregations Frank. I think what you'll find in my circles and many continuationist churches is many people who are coming from the "open but cautious" camp to a position of actually wanting to relate more personally with the Holy Spirit, learn about how God still speaks and heals, and what it means to obey Paul's command (or exhortation if you like) to pursue love and desire the gifts with a pure motive for building up others. Though what you'd find might be immature in development, you'd find congregations that are the least likely to be given over to abuses -- simply because of where they're coming from. However, that being said, your next questions will give me opportunity to go in to more detail about the concerns I've had even in my own congregations who I'd still consider to be healthy.
How should the cessationist approach this "assumption"?
1. Realize it's not an assumption, we've said that it's simply more reasonable for us to say we can verify what's going on in our own congregations not what is happening everywhere. Perhaps also consider the unreasonableness of assuming that if someone decides that they're going to obey Paul's command to pursue love and earnestly desire spiritual gifts, that they simultaneously are signing up to have to defend the entire charismatic movement.
2. Perhaps go and observe for yourself what healthy practice looks like and how that healthy practice is standardized, shepherded, and enforced in local continuationist congregations. Realize that more corporate standardization and pleas for a more global charismatic reformation have been issued by charismatic leaders. 
Though I haven't read it, you made me aware of Lee Grady's book which looks to be something that conservative continuationists and others in my circles should consider, since he's experienced more of the extremes, as has Craig Keener, whose response to Strange Fire may be very helpful for you and those readers who want more answers to abuses and the worst sides of the charismatic movement that it appears I'm inadequate to deal with in a more helpful way. I think this book, as well as others, should be an encouragement to cessationists that many of the issues raised by Strange Fire are being addressed and called to reformation on a large scale.
3. Consider exploring and taking more seriously why it is that you feel more called or convicted to patrol and control spiritual gifts (or to command someone patrol spiritual gifts) than you do to obey the command to covet earnestly and pursue spiritual gifts.  

J.P. Moreland's book Kingdom Triangle and his support of Lee Grady's book on charismatic reformation should release that pressure valve by realizing that there are those who are policing our camp with convincing scholarship. Now, Frank and other cessationists, why not sincerely listen to what J.P. Moreland and others have to say to the cessationist camp and start exploring your end more honestly?                     

Q10 for Frank: "For Apostles Only?" Re-visited

I think your response to question 9 avoided the first question I asked and misunderstood the second. Here's what I mean:
For the record, I haven't denied any of the "normal" day to day works of the Spirit you've provided in your answers nor concluded that you view those works as being non-supernatural.  
My second question was not to suggest you are denying the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church or to suggest the only way we know He is at work is if we are seeing spectacular effects of His presence all the time. I was suggesting a conclusion in  light of my questions below, which is, it could be that built in to  Paul's  "ordinary" or  "normal" life for the church, is the assumption that the Holy Spirit is just as present and continuing to give these gifts to the church as He wills...all of which include utterances of wisdom, utterances of knowledge,  gifts of healing, working of miracles, ability to distinguish between spirits, various kinds of tongues, interpretation of tongues, and prophecy...which would mean, when embraced with the alleged normalcy of the rest of Paul's epistles and the book of Acts, in my opinion would still point to naturally supernatural church life.   
As for the first question:

A. You have made it clear in our dialogue that if there are a continuation of gifts (I Cor. 12-14), then they must look like what the Apostles demonstrated in the book of Acts.
B. You have also referenced Acts 2 twice and Paul's epistles to support your argument that the these  signs and wonders/"apostolic" gifts were done only by the Apostles; and to sort of pillar the work of the Spirit in the day to day life of the church as more ordinary.
My first question, abbreviated, was simply, If A and B are true, how can you reconcile Paul commanding the Corinthian church (not apostles) to eagerly desire these "for apostles only"  gifts?
I'll ask it this way: In light of the question above--since we know the Corinthian believers are not all apostles (I Cor. 12:29), what does that do to your view that these are "apostolic" gifts, that there must be Apostles performing them, and that they must look like what the Apostles did in the book of Acts in order for you to consider them genuine manifestations of the Spirit? 

Frank Responds:

The summary answer is this: You have misread the passage, because Paul doesn't say every believer will prophesy; even if Paul is making a command here, it's not for every believer to demonstrate the gift -- and that is exactly my point in my objection to your view.

The explanation of that answer follows.

I've been generous toward your point of view to say that I concede the point that the Bible says that the gifts continue, and I have pointed the reader (and you, Bryan) to the particular resource I would use to say that there's a cautious, moderated argument for such a thing by accepting D.A. Carson's exegesis of 1 Cor 11-14.  When I do that for your sake, what I am doing is conceding the point that there ought to be a fundamentally-biblical basis for our belief in the use of supernatural giftings.

The strange thing about that premise -- that is, the premise that we ought to be fundamentally-biblical on this topic -- is that it cuts both ways.  That concession doesn't at all hobble the cessationist but super-equip the continualist: it establishes the right bounds (God's word on the matter) for the discussion.  So while the cessationist has to admit that the Bible doesn't specifically put an expiration date on the gifts of healing, prophecy and tongues, the continualist (rightly demanding we listen to the Bible) has to admit that since there is no expiration date on these gifts, the Bible rather explicitly tells us what they are, and what they look like.  For example, the Bible is rather rigorous to explain to us what a prophecy is, and rather explicit to describe how the gift of healing looks when Paul or Peter or (since you brought him up a few questions ago) Jesus do it, and what the experience of the hearers are when the gift of tongues is rightly demonstrated.

So while I might rightly concede that there's no date fixed by Scripture for the end of these gifts, you have to concede the definitions of the gifts.

When we start there -- with the simple, authoritative place of Scripture in this discussion -- a lot of chaff falls away.  For example, calling hunches "prophecy" ought to be tossed into the round file immediately.  Calling every prayer for healing "the gift of healing" is (at best) minimizing real acts of miraculous healing.  Calling every syllable of gibberish spoken under the alleged power of "the Spirit" ought to be cast off as "tongues" (for no reason less than the reason Paul does so in 1 Cor 14).

That is: if we start there, and dispense with all the counterfeit examples of phony manifestations which do not resemble the Biblical examples of the gifts you say we ought to earnestly seek, suddenly you and I are talking about the same thing.

When we are looking for the genuine article, we have to then ask: who is gifted with the genuine article, and why?  Who is gifted, for example, with the fruit of the Spirit (cf. Gal 5)?  Plainly: every believer is gifted with the fruit of the Spirit.  How about teaching (cf. James 3)? Well, not many should become teachers, right?  How about eldership (cf. 1Tim 5 or Titus 1)?  It's a good thing -- a necessary thing -- but it's not for everyone.

And in 1 Cor 14, where you have made a point to demand that Paul is commanding prophecy, you have ignored that even if this is true, in 1Cor 14:26-32 Paul makes it clear that only prophets will prophesy.  Not everyone is a prophet.  
Therefore your conclusion -- that somehow prophecy is now arbitrarily distributed in the NT assembly (the arbiter being the unknowable will of the Holy Spirit) -- is not found in the NT.  Something else is.

To that end, I'll grant you that prophets will also prophecy -- but in the NT, the ratio of prophets to apostles is rather lopsidedly balanced to the Apostles.  In that balance, the point of course is as it is in Acts 2 -- that signs and wonders are being performed by and through the gifting of the Apostles, and not as some point of the hidden will of God.  In fact, the signs and wonders are being performed explicitly to make the will of God known -- to reveal it and make it obvious.  Peter says that explicitly in Acts 2 -- that the reason there is something miraculous happening on Pentecost is to validate the hand of God on the relevation that all of Israel should know for certain that Jesus is both Lord and Christ.
[The keen reader will note I have exceeded my word count at this point]

You're not presenting me (or the readers here) with anything like that -- not in purpose or in power or in scope.  You're asking me to take things which you admit are far less dramatic and far less reliable and far less wonderful, confess that almost anyone can do them, and then expect that somehow they can qualify as supernatural in the same way that raising Eutychus from the dead was supernatural.

I refuse -- and I do so on the basis that the Bible tells me to refuse them as something other than what it describes as signs and wonders.  Those are special gifts for some members of Christ's church who have a very particular mission and duty.

Q9 for Bryan: Q3 revisited - how to respond?

In my Q#3 to you, Bryan, I take the blame for being too vague.  Let’s assume that the Apostolic Gifts are necessary for the life of the church; therefore, let’s then posit that all cessationists are unorthodox. It’s obvious to me what sort of response is warranted for them based on the responses to the Strange Fire Conference.

My Q#3 was in fact regarding what to do about those who, on paper, believe what you believe about the Apostolic Gifts but are not orthodox due to abuses and excesses (you have mentioned Mike Murdock; I am sure there must be others).

Let assume that 70% of all Charismatic globally are orthodox and of good faith, but that 30% of them are of a stripe like Murdock and his cohorts.  What should the 70% do about the 30% who are, frankly, causing division in the body of Christ through false teaching? 

May I re-frame your question this way so that I've an actual figure to go by?:

Say we have only 1,000 teachers/leaders/pastors who on paper believe the same thing about the miraculous gifts. We got together and agreed across the board on all our terms and standards of orthodoxy with the gospel and practice of miraculous gifts within the church and conducted on-site surveys on those 1000 teachers to see how they measured up against the standard. We then got the results back which revealed that 700 of them were orthodox and of good faith with the standardization put in place, but 300 of them were deemed false teachers of a stripe like Mike Murdock and are currently causing division within the body. 

What do the 700 orthodox do?

First I'd say we'd need to stay calm and controlled and keep ourselves away from guns, explosives, Saran wrap, and imprecatory Psalms (at least at first). 

Scripture exhorts us who are leaders/elders in the church to "hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it." (Titus 1:9)

Since we know we're dealing with Mike Murdock types, we know that we're dealing with primary issues (especially the gospel), not secondary ones. 

We protect the sheep entrusted to our care and shoot the wolves closest to us. We do this as best we can with our own platform and sphere of influence, dealing first with any problems in our own local assembly and network of churches, and then move outward. The more public the false teacher and teaching, the more public the confrontation and exposure.   

As for more of a principled process: 

--We pray for them. 
--We ask our Father for wisdom. 
--We watch our own life and doctrine closely. 
--We plead with them privately and publicly to repent.
--We publicly confront them and censure them.

I understand Frank that in your thinking you are being gracious with that figure, that in your mind it's more like 70% quacks who make headlines and 30% orthodox who smoke pipes and stroke their beards while reading Piper and Grudem. Of course, that number of orthodox would be different if you guys were actually more orthodox:) But I get that we conservatives make up a small percentage of the movement, if we can be considered inside the movement at all. 

I think it's important to note here that Mike Murdock's views on or practice with the gifts of the Spirit (which I know nothing of) have nothing to do with why I find him repulsive and to be a false teacher, and never have. I would feel the same way about him and those like him if on paper they all had a high view of the sovereignty of God but still preached a false gospel and aired late night TV $1000 seed garbage.

There is a difference between false teaching/preaching a different gospel and misuse/abuse or perceived misuse of the miraculous gifts, but since you didn't make that distinction in your question, but rather implied they were one in the same, I chose to answer the question as you asked and make the clarification here.    

What clearly emerges out of this question is our differing perspectives on hearing God and what we believe to be the true nature of the New Testament gift of prophecy---and how those differing perspectives translate into what we'd be willing to consider excessive abuse and false teaching...and subsequently, how we think things should be standardized.  



Q9 for Frank: "For Apostles Only" Gifts?

My attempt at a laconic response to your last answer followed up with my next question:
-I'm arguing that the Kingdom of God will be manifested in power, but that doesn't mean I'm saying that is the only way it is revealed. The snapshot of my view is in my introduction...here...about a thousand words down:)
-We're in agreement that Acts 2 and the epistles you mentioned provide us pictures and instructions of what Kingdom life should look like in the church.
But it also seems to me that you're giving the alleged silence of these passages a lot more weight to your view than the clarity of other passages against your view. 
For example, if the gifts are apostolic in nature and for apostles only as you suggest; and the daily life of the church far more ordinary in your view as allegedly evidenced by Paul's other epistles, what then do you do when you find in one of his letters to the Corinthian church, Paul commanding the ordinary believers to eagerly desire these so called "for apostles only" gifts?   
In light of this, could it not be that built in to Paul's "ordinary" or  "normal",  is the assumption that the Holy Spirit is present and continuing to give these gifts to the church as He wills?

What I do with 1 Cor 11-14 is what Paul does with it: I expect good order and activity for the edification of the church. When I have asked you how I will know whether this is done or not, you have accused me of unsavory motives and provided me with a post-Biblical (to avoid saying unbiblical) explanation of the use of Apostolic gifts.

What worries me is that your second question assumes that I think the Holy Spirit is absent from the local church and the believer, or that the only way we can know He is present is that if the most spectacular effects of his presence are regularly manifest. I think the bulk of the NT actually says otherwise.

Before outlining that, let's be clear about something: arguing from silence is not an effective tactic. Arguing from what is actually said -- saying the things Paul and Jesus actually said -- is the effective way to use God's word. If the Holy Spirit is saying anything today (and He is) it starts with what the Bible actually says and not what we think is suggested in the silences.

So, for example, the presence of the Holy Spirit is demonstrated by being taught all the things Jesus taught and bringing to remembrance all that he has said, and also keeping all his commandments (John 14); speaking the word of God in boldness (Acts 4); people will be converted to Christ (Acts 9); God's love will be evident (Rom 5); there will be righteousness, peace and joy (Rom 14); there will be purity, patience, kindness, goodness and love (2 Cor 6). That is: the Holy Spirit is primarily working in the ordinary life of the church and the believer by conforming them to righteousness and their new birth in Christ.

You may want to go back to Acts and show all the miracles taking place there -- and I grant them all. But I grant them pointing out that these are the "Acts of the Apostles," not the "Acts of every believer always."

My view of it -- and this is important to see that this is the view that the vast majority of believers prior to the 20th century -- is that there is an office of Apostle, they have a special place in the history of God's church and revelation, they have gifts we do not, and we ought to be concerned with the ordinary things the Holy Spirit ought to be doing in our lives rather than hoping for things which, in the history of faith which the Bible describes, are both rare and extraordinary.