These 7 points, while interesting and thought-provoking, do not themselves present a cogent argument against the manifestation of miracles, healings, or gifts. I went ahead and read the article that you are referencing, and I will try to respond to them point by point. It should be noted that I agree with much of the spirit of what is written in the article, and myself am very critical and skeptical of modern miracles (more on that in my closing testimony), and the charismatic movement in general, but I do not hold to cessationism because I find it 1. logically untenable, 2. unbiblical, 3. ahistorical.
- The unique role of miracles - For authentication of the messenger(s). God worked miracles through unique men - Moses; Elijah
and Elisha; Christ and his apostles.
This is a very limited interpretation of miracles, and a borderline misrepresentation. While I agree that God used special miracles 'to authenticate messengers' that He sends, there are many other miracles in the whole of the Bible; while outside of the Biblical record itself, there are countless testifications of miracles in the varying Christian traditions. (here is one)
In summary, many miracles are worked through important people; many others are worked through ordinary people. Miracles are done by God to minister to people's needs and to glorify Himself, not exclusively 'to authenticate messengers'.
- The end of the gift of apostleship - Apostleship was a church office gift (1 Cor 12:28; Eph 4) that ceased with the death of the
I totally agree with this point, there are no more Apostles, however, it's non-sequitor to the argument against miracles. Apostles are not needed for miracles to take place, which is why there were miracles both before and after the time of the Apostles and performed by many people other than prophets or Apostles (one of the coolest miracles in the NT is biolocation - which is performed by Philip, who was not an Apostle). In the original article, the author says "[the lack of apostlelship now] indicates there has been a major change in the gifting of the Spirit between the apostolic age and today."
No, the lack of Apostles in our time indicates that the office of the Apostles no longer exists, because the requirement for Apsotleship in Acts is having walked with Jesus. This is irrelevant and unrelated to miracles. The implied relationship between the two is not born out of the text.
- The foundational nature of the New Testament apostles and prophets - Apostles and prophets laid the foundation of the Christ' Church (Eph 2:20-22).
Again, I agree with this point, the New Testament period was a foundational period for the church, that is why the canon of scripture was written during this period but is now closed. But there is nothing explicit in the NT that states this somehow applies to miracles or the gifts given to the church. The argument they are presenting is that miracles were only for the time of the early church, but they haven't presented any evidence (beyond speculation) to justify this interpretation.
- The nature of the New Testament miraculous gifts - Alleged "miracles" reported after the Apostles are not of the same type, e.g.,
disparity between modern day healings and NT healings; "Tongues"
gibberish vs. known languages, etc.
This is also not a cogent argument. Even if the kinds of miracles happening today were not comparable to the ones in the NT (which I would take issue with), that would not in itself disprove their existence; if anything it would only necesitate the contemplation of 2 classes of miracles.
- The testimony of church history - The practice of apostolic gifts declined even during the lifetimes of the apostles. Even in the
written books of the New Testament, the miraculous gifts are mentioned
less as the date of their writing gets later.
This is also not proof. The later life of the Apostles is not extensively covered in the NT, so any reference to the number of miracles that happened is speculative at best. John, however, was said to have been boiled in oil in his old age, and survived (miracle?). The article goes into more detail on this point, but the sources and time periods represented are cherry picked - 7 sources across 2,000 years (and half within the last 200 years) in no way represent an authoritative or complete view of church history. What about the countless testimonies of missionaries across the globe that have witnessed miracles?
- The sufficiency of Scripture - The Spirit speaks only in and through the inspired Word.
While I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment in the article surrounding this point: "The Spirit speaks only in and through the inspired Word. He doesn’t call and direct his people through subjective messages and modern day bestsellers. His word is external to us and objective.", ie, the message of God is objective and we don't need best sellers or special people to tell us things from God, the argument is patently false because it represents circular reasoning. If the spirit only speaks through the inspired word, but the Spirit spoke to inspire the word, then this proves that the spirit speaks outside of the inspired word. If God was capable of speaking to and through people in the Bible, what makes us think He has now lost this capability?
Note: I am highly skeptical of people that have a 'word' from God - I always test it against what the scriptures themselves say (because they are infalable, compared to people's thoughts and inner impressions) and weigh the whole thing with prayer. But sometimes, God actually speaks or leads people through impressions or internal factors (to use the language of the original article), and that cannot be discounted. The fact that scriptures were inspired in the first place is testimony to this.
- The New Testament governed the miraculous gifts - Whenever the New Testament gifts of tongues was to be practiced, there were specific
rules that were to be followed. These rules are not followed by
Whether or not the rules are followed by some charismatics today does not prove or disprove the existence of the gifts; this is a huge non-sequitor. Obviously, people in the New Testament themselves did not always follow the rules - which is why Paul wrote extensively to correct their use of the gifts in the first place.
The fact that some people don't follow the Biblical rules governing the gifts only proves that people haven't changed at all since the time the rules were written.
The best example of the faulty logic in this argument is when we apply it to other gifts. Take the gift of teaching for example. There are many false teachers, who obviously don't follow the rules of teaching - does this mean that the gift of teaching doesn't exist, simply because there are false teachers? Should the gift of teaching be banned or stopped because not everyone follows the rules? What about the gift of faith? Or the gift of hospitality?
This last point more than any other highlights the foundational problem with cessationism, and that is that it believes and accepts some gifts and not others; cessationism draws the line at what they call 'the sign gifts' - but this distinction of 'sign gifts' does not exist in scripture, nor does scripture ever instruct us to throw some gifts out and keep others. The main verse that is used to support this idea in cessationism ("when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.", 1Cor13:10) is in no way clear - and doesn't even represent the straightforward reading of the text; hermeneutically speaking its eisegesis.
In closing, while I would never base my beliefs on experience alone (which is why I took the time to try and address the points in question logically while reasoning from scripture), I personally have experienced a couple of miracles. This includes being healed once myself, having seen people healed immediately after praying for them, and experiencing the gift of speaking in tongues (glossolalia) and speaking in foreign tongues (I woke up able to understand Spanish after two weeks of prayer, when I could not previously speak the language at all, and have been fluent since then for 15 years).
While I referenced missionaries, I should point out that I myself am a Christian evangelical missionary of 15 years serving in Central America. I can only count a couple of miracles that I've seen, but have heard of dozens more other missionaries in the area. The reality is that I am still convinced that the biggest miracle of all is the salvation of the lost, followed by the miracle of changed lives - and if I had to choose between the obviously supernatural miracles - or the changed lives and hearts, I would choose the second 100% of the time.