Monday, January 7, 2008

TurretinFan Answer to Question #2

PhatCatholic, you asked for proof that special miracles had long since ceased by Chrysostom's time.

1. John Chrysostom wrote, in Homily IV on Paul's Second Epistle to the Thessalonians:

"Because if he meant to say the Spirit, he would not have spoken obscurely, but plainly, that even now the grace of of the Spirit, that is the gifts, withhold [the AntiChrist]. And otherwise he ought to have come, if he was about to come when the gifts ceased: for they have long since ceased."

2. Likewise, towards the end of his ministry (circa 428), Augustine wrote:

"For those that are baptized do not now receive the Spirit on the imposition of hands, so as to speak in the tongues of all the peoples; neither are the sick healed by the shadow of the preachers of Christ falling on them as they pass; and other such things as were then done, are now manifestly ceased." (Retractions I, xiii, 7)

3. Or simply, as B.B. Warfield (died 1921) wrote in, The Cessation of Miracles,

"And so we pass on to the fourth century in an ever-increasing stream [of references to supposed miracles], but without a single writer having claimed himself to have wrought a miracle of any kind or having ascribed miracle-working to any known name in the church, and without a single instance having been recorded in detail."

4. Of course, the last item is simply an argument from silence. Nevertheless, that silence confirms the testimony of Chrysostom, who also wrote, this time in his Homily XXIX on Paul's Epistles to the Corinthians:

"This whole place [1 Corinthians 12:1-2] is very obscure: but the obscurity is produced by our ignorance of the facts referred to and by their cessation, being such as then used to occur but now no longer take place. And why do they not happen now? Why look now, the cause too of the obscurity hath produced us again another question: namely, why did they then happen, and now do so no more?"

So, we have not only the negative testimony of silence (as observed by Warfield's survey of the Early Church Fathers) but the positive testimony of Chrysostom as to the absence of the miraculous gifts.

We can connect the dots as well. The special gifts were a sign that the gifted were messengers from God and that consequently they spoke not their own words, but the words of the Most High. However, with the completion of the Bible, the need for prophets dissipated, and consequently the prophetic and accompanying sign gifts understandably passed away as well.

Thus, we rightly conclude that Chrysostom was right, and that the miraculous gifts had long since ceased.


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