(Jason Bullington – Things Above)
This series is predicated on the important truth that the continuationism vs. cessationism debate is no small deal. You are either one or the other, and there is no squishy middle (though some might lead you to believe there is). The key question is whether or not God is still speaking new revelation to His people today through audible voices and spiritual impressions. If so, then that drastically affects cross-cultural church planting methodology.
It isn’t minor, it’s yuuuuuuuge.
I noted in the previous post that I believe cessationism, obviously, is the Biblical position, and I am writing primarily to those who agree with that statement. Rather than trying to convince you to take a position that you already agree with, I am hoping to convince you and your church that sending missionaries who allow for extra-Biblical words from God and prophecies is horrifically dangerous.
To simply say, “Well, a continuationist missionary is better than no missionary at all,” is unwise. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. You are convinced, as a Pastor/elder/leader, that your church’s spiritual vibrancy hinges on faith in the pure Word of God. Wonderful. Now, I would exhort you to be equally convinced that a tribal church’s spiritual life depends on that same belief.
My overall point, which sprung from Fred Butler’s recent series, is this: continuationism inevitably causes Christians, who are already prone to forgetting Scripture, to slip towards unorthodoxy. Animistic people, however, who are prone to syncretism and are often hours from the nearest Evangelical church, are 100-times more likely to slip into unorthodoxy through Charismatic beliefs.
This is, ultimately, why I wouldn’t even plant a church with Matt Chandler or John Piper in an unreached people group. Praise the Lord that, through intense study of the Word over many years, the Lord has seemingly protected them from unorthodoxy. Guess what, though? This will not be the case for tribal groups. This deep, decades-long foundation has not been laid for them. To entrust them to rightly distinguish which messages are from God, which messages are from their Ancestors, and which messages originate from themselves is obviously dangerous.
As you will see throughout this series, cessationism is not only the Biblical position, but the safest one for tribal church plants.
In writing this next sentence, I realize this may offend some of our more proper Western, millennial sensibilities — although it is absolutely true, obvious, and critical to my overall point, before and below.
Deep breath, here we go: there are a lot of people in the world that don’t think like us.
Yeah, there, I said it. At least one-third of the world has a completely different worldview than most Westerners do, and that worldview is called “Animism.” It’s terrible and wicked and gross. I hate it so much, because I’ve seen it turn children into mindless murderers, men into monsters, and women into mush.