UnApologetic

Christian Theology and Apologetics

απολογια χαρισμα

ἀπολογία χάρισμα 

The Didache. The Didache was a very early church document outlining the beliefs and traditions of the Apostles. There is disagreement among scholars as to its exact date, but most think its composition was from anywhere between AD 70 to AD 120.[1] Also, no one is sure who composed the Didache, but most likely he was a Jewish Christian convert.[2]

The Didache states:

And any prophet speaking in the Spirit, do not test or judge, for every sin shall be forgiven, but this sin shall not be forgiven. But not everyone who speaks in the Spirit is a prophet, only if he has the manner of the Lord. Therefore, from his manner you shall distinguish between the false prophet and the prophet. And any prophet who orders a meal in the Spirit will eat not from it, and if he does otherwise, he is a false prophet. But any prophet teaching the truth, if he does not do what he teaches, he is a false prophet. But any prophet having been proven genuine who is making the church into a worldly mystery, but not teaching them to do whatever he himself does, he shall not be judged by you. For with God he has his judgment, for even the ancient prophets acted in the same way.[3]

From the above it can easily be surmised that prophecy continued past the final writings of the New Testament. It mentions speaking in the Spirit, which may be a reference to tongues; at the least is the belief of a continuation of charismatic gifts past the lives of the original Apostles. No one could read the Didache and come to the conclusion that charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased.

Justin Martyr. This early church father was a world-class philosopher of his day; one would be extremely hard pressed to find another individual with the same quality of education afforded to Justin Martyr. Scholars vary on his exact date of birth, but it can be said within reason that he was born sometime around AD100-114. He converted to Christianity at the age of thirty-three so the earliest he could have written any of his Christian works would be AD133 and the latest AD147. Some scholar believe he wrote his apologies in 165AD, some sixty-five years after the death of John; the last of the Apostles.[4]

Concerning charismatic activity, Justin writes:

But “Jesus,” His name as man and Savior, has also significance. For He was made man also, as we before said, having been conceived according to the will of God the Father, for the sake of believing men, and for the destruction of the demons. And now you can learn this from what is under your own observation. For numberless demoniacs throughout the whole world, and in your city, many of our Christian men exorcising them in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, have healed and do heal, rendering helpless and driving the possessing devils out of the men, though they could not be cured by all the other exorcists, and those who used incantations and drugs.[5]

At a minimum over four decades removed from the last Apostles death, charismatic works of the Spirit were continuing, not waning. Notice also from Justin’s quote that “Christian men” were exorcising demons—they are not given titles—these were common Christians to whom no name was given. Therefore, the miraculous works of the Spirit were still occurring and not just by clergy, also by the common Christian, just as in the book of Acts.

Irenaeus of Lyons (AD 120-202). Many scholars believe Irenaeus was a missionary to ancient Gaul (modern France). He wrote many works but only two survived until today.[6] By AD 177 Irenaeus was the recognized bishop of Lyons. James P. Eckman mentions, “There (Lyons) he spent his life pastoring, teaching, commissioning missionaries to the rest of Europe, and writing. He was evidently martyred about 202.”[7] Irenaeus was the fist Christian apologist that had a written theology and fully developed theology of scriptural authority.[8]

Irenaeus had the following to say regarding speaking in tongues and prophecy; this was written around AD 165:

We speak wisdom among them that are perfect,” terming those persons “perfect” who have received the Spirit of God, and who through the Spirit of God do speak in all languages, as he used Himself also to speak. In like manner we do also hear7 many brethren in the Church, who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages, and bring to light for the general benefit the hidden things of men, and declare the mysteries of God,[9]

By Irenaeus own testimony Chrismatic activity was present during his lifetime and ministry. He mentions prophetic gifts bestowed to people in the church. Speaking in various kinds of tongues was also present in church in his lifetime. Being that Irenaeus had no connection with the original Apostles and was born after the final Apostles death, one can conclude that charismatic gifting’s of the Spirit continued and the ministry was still very charismatic in nature.

Irenaeus mentions charismatic gifts again in another writing in around AD 192:

Wherefore, also, those who are in truth His disciples, receiving grace from Him, do in His name perform [miracles], so as to promote the welfare of other men, according to the gift which each one has received from Him. For some do certainly and truly drive out devils, so that those who have thus been cleansed from evil spirits frequently both believe [in Christ], and join themselves to the Church. Others have foreknowledge of things to come: they see visions, and utter prophetic expressions. Others still, heal the sick by laying their hands upon them, and they are made whole. Yea, moreover, as I have said, the dead even have been raised up, and remained among us for many years.[10]

Again, Irenaeus is mentioning charismatic activity some twenty-seven years after the aforementioned writing. He mentions that people are performing miracles, driving out of devils, prophetic foreknowledge and utterances, healings by the laying of hands, and finally dead being raised to life. Clearly, there was some charismata occurring.

 Tertullian. This African church father was born around AD150.[11]

Tertullian suggests the charismatic gifts were still evident in his time:

For apostles have the Holy Spirit properly, who have Him fully, in the operations of prophecy, and the efficacy of (healing) virtues, and the evidences of tongues; not partially, as all others have. Thus he attached the Holy Spirit’s authority to that form (of advice) to which he willed us rather to attend; and forthwith it became not an advice of the Holy Spirit, but, in consideration of His majesty, a precept.”[12]

Further, he also mentions various healings and driving out of demons: “The clerk of one of them who was liable to be thrown upon the ground by an evil spirit, was set free from his affliction; as was also the relative of another, and the little boy of a third. How many men of rank (to say nothing of common people) have been delivered from devils, and healed of diseases!” [13] Thus, charismata continued at least until AD216—the date of his last mentioning of charismatic gifts.[14]

Aurelius Augustine. In his writing (AD 413-426) Augustine defends Christianity against the heathen at a time when Rome is falling victim to attack and the Greco-Roman Empire was near its downfall. In his writing Augustine mentions various miracles to include healings and apparently one resurrection.

Augustine recites the miracle as follows:

At Hippo a Syrian called Bassus was praying at the relics of the same            martyr for his daughter, who was dangerously ill. He too had brought her dress with him to the shrine. But as he prayed, behold, his servants ran from the house to tell him she was dead. His friends, however, intercepted them, and forbade them to tell him, lest he should bewail her in public. And when he had returned to his house, which was already ringing with the lamentations of his family, and had thrown on his daughter’s body the dress he was carrying, she was restored to life.[15]

Often times scholars with cessationist leanings cite the aforementioned Augustine as a early source to support the cessation of miracles, but these scholars only refer to the earlier writings of Augustine, not the later ones quoted in the above. Thus, the above evidences show that the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit continued well past the death of the last Apostle, John. There is no cessation of the Holy Spirit to be derived from Scripture and there is not one mentioned in the early church fathers.

 

[1]. William Varner, “Didache,” ed. John D. Barry and Lazarus Wentz, The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012).

[2]. Ibid.

[3]. Rick Brannan, tran., The Apostolic Fathers in English (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012).

[4]. Guy P. Duffield and Nathaniel M. Van Cleave, Foundations of Pentecostal Theology (Los Angeles, CA: L.I.F.E. Bible College, 1983), 385.

[5]. Justin Martyr, “The Second Apology of Justin,” in The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 190.

[6]. James P. Eckman, Exploring Church History (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2002), 25.

[7]. Ibid.

[8]. Ibid.

[9]. Irenaeus of Lyons, “Irenæus Against Heresies,” in The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 531.

[10]. Irenaeus of Lyons, “Irenæus Against Heresies,” in The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 409.

[11]. Philip Schaff and David Schley Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. 2 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1910), 819–820.

[12]. Tertullian, “On Exhortation to Chastity,” in Fathers of the Third Century: Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Parts First and Second, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. S. Thelwall, vol. 4, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 53.

 [13]. Tertullian, “To Scapula,” in Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. S. Thelwall, vol. 3, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 107.

[14]. Foundations of Pentecostal Theology., 385.

[15]. Augustine of Hippo, “The City of God,” in St. Augustin’s City of God and Christian Doctrine, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. Marcus Dods, vol. 2, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1887), 489.

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