Which Augustine, Early or Late: Rethinking the Gifts of the Spirit for Today

Doing theology is something of a journey.  It’s rightfully, “faith seeking understanding.”  Like the early Augustine, I was once a cessationist:

In the earliest times, “the Holy Ghost fell upon them that believed: and they spake with tongues,” which they had not learned, “as the Spirit gave them utterance.” These were signs adapted to the time. For there behooved to be that betokening of the Holy Spirit in all tongues, to shew that the Gospel of God was to run through all tongues over the whole earth. That thing was done for a betokening, and it passed away. (Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John. Homily VI, 10)

Then that shift came once I was compelled to reexamine and rethink the matter through a fresh reading of Scripture, and the experience of others.  Augustine may have had a similar experience.  The following composite quote comes from Scott Lencke’s post on the matter here.  In interacting with noted biblical scholar Michael Green and how he too made the shift, Scott quotes Green, who then quotes Augustine:

I am encouraged, in my recantation [from his hard cessationist thoughts in his earlier edition of this book], to be in the good company of Augustine who, in his earlier writings, believed that the charismatic gifts had died out in the Church and were no longer needed. But by the time he wrote The City of God, however, he had realized his skepticism was unwarranted. In Book 22 he tells how he changed his mind “once I realized how many miracles were occurring in our day…It is only two years ago that the keeping of records was begun here in Hippo, and already, at this writing, we have nearly seventy attested miracles.” (Green, Evangelism in the Early Church, p271)

Perhaps the later Augustine lost a step or two.  I doubt it.  Rather, the later Augustine on the matter of the continuation of miracles was compelled to reexamine and rethink his earlier held cessationist position.

At any rate, like Scott, not Augustine, but what I can read in Scripture is what brought about that shift for me–from a cessationist to a continuationist.


This entry was posted in Augustine of Hippo, Cessationism, Charismatic, Continuationist, Gifts of the Spirit, Miracles, Spiritual Gifts and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Which Augustine, Early or Late: Rethinking the Gifts of the Spirit for Today

  1. Pingback: Which Augustine, Early or Late: Rethinking the Gifts of the Spirit for … – Charismatic Feeds

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