Kingdom Triangle – 2

In a previous post I mentioned that we recently completed the book Kingdom Triangle by J.P. Moreland. The triangle he is referring to is the Christian mind, the use of the spiritual disciplines in the life of the Christian, and the power of the Holy Spirit. He has an interesting chapter titled “Restoration of the Kingdom’s Miraculous Power” in which he discussed “Four Subgroups in the Christian Community.” These four subgroups are cessationist, open but cautious, Third Wave, and Pentecostal/charismatic. Here’s a brief description from Moreland (citing Wayne Grudem):


  • cessationist: there are no miraculous gifts today; gifts such as prophecy, healings, and tongues ceased with the death of teh apostles because their function of establishing the church was complete.
  • open but cautious: cessationist arguments fail; miraculous gifts are, indeed, possible today, but the teachings and practices associated with the current use of such gifts are unimpressive, frequently characterized by abuses, and not important for evangelism and discipleship compared to Bible study, obedience, and allegedly more traditional forms of spiritual growth.
  • Third Wave: all Christians are baptized by the Holy Spirit at conversion, subsequent fillings and anointings of the Spirit are acheved through yielding and faith; while the gifts of tongues is for today, tongues is not emphasized nor is it seen as evidence of the Spirit’s filling; miraculous gifts, especially those associated with healing, deliverance, and words of knowledge and prophecy, are important for the life of the church.
  • Pentecostal/charismatic: while these two groups are different in some ways, they may be collectively understood as accepting the current availablility of the miraculous gifts; they often hold to a baptism of the Holy Spirit subsequent to salvation and evidenced by speaking in tongues, and if they do not embrace such a second baptism, there is, in any case, greater emphasis on speaking in tongues than advocated by Third Wave believers. [p. 178]

For reflection: Do these four subgroups capture the range of theological positions on the topic? Which reflects your theological background/tradition?

2 thoughts on “Kingdom Triangle – 2

  1. It would seem more veracious (from an eschatological perspective) to say that spiritual gifts ended after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. rather than after the death of the apostles from the cessationist subgroup. I consider myself a partial-preterist, so cessationism is naturally part of my personal theology. I tend to believe spiritual gifts were significant only for the time of transition between the Mosaic period and the current Kingdom Age.

  2. Thanks for sharing a little about your background, Seth, and for your thoughts on a variation on cessationism.

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