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Particulars of Christianity:
310 Pentecostalism,
the Charismatic
and Faith Movements

Preliminary Proof: Counterargument 1

Preliminary Proof: When the Gifts Would Cease
Preliminary Proof: Counterargument 1
Preliminary Proof: Counterargument 2
Preliminary Proof: Counterargument 3
Preliminary Proof: Counterargument 4
Preliminary Proof: Conclusions
Preliminary Proof: Additional Commentary

Section 1 | Section 2 | Section 3 | Section 4
| Section 5

Counterargument No. 1 - Paul Didn't Know or Understand the Timing of Maturity and Cessation.

The basis of this counterargument is that if Paul himself didn't have any idea about the timing of cessation then Paul could teach things about cessation that were incompatible with his own understanding of when Christ could return. Or in other words, if Paul was not aware or observant enough to pick up on the fact that what he was teaching about cessation contradicted his understanding in other areas, then his contradiction of his own understanding is acceptable.

This argument wreaks havoc on the grammatical-historical method because its basis is that the Holy Spirit could teach things through Paul that Paul himself did not understand or was unaware of and which would contradict his own perceptions. Once this door is opened, the grammatical-historical approach goes right out the window. What's to stop someone from coming up with a view concerning the timing of the rapture that is incompatible with Paul's prior understanding at the time and then claiming this view is valid since the Holy Spirit was teaching something through Paul that he himself didn't understand. They might go on to argue that the incompatibility of their interpretation with Paul's understanding at the time is acceptable because Paul was unaware of or unmindful of the contradiction.

But Paul's doctrine had to be systematic. Or, in other words, Paul's theology had to work as a coherent system. Each part had to work as a collective whole. Paul's understanding in one area could not contradict what he taught in another area. If Paul's understanding contradicted his teaching, then Paul's understanding cannot be used to determine what he did or did not teach and the whole grammatical-historical method of interpretation is undone. Furthermore, if Paul's systematic understanding was self-contradicting then all of Christianity is in jeopardy because that would indicate that the entire faith was incoherent from the beginning including in the mind of one of its own scripture writers and most prominent early leaders.

From Paul's perspective, Paul understood that Jesus could return in his own lifetime and the lifetime of that first generation. His understanding of how cessation would occur and what would trigger it would necessarily have to work with that possibility. Any relationship between cessation and maturation, which did not work with that possibility could not have been Paul's teaching for the very reason that it was not compatible with what was for Paul a very real and even defining possibility in his theological understanding.

This counterargument by its very nature destroys the grammatical-historical approach. As such, this argument must be rejected or the grammatical-historical method must be rejected. But rather than accept this argument, we should instead accept the fact that Paul understood his own teaching, understood the implications of what he was teaching, and understood how what he was teaching related compatibly with other issues that he taught and believed. In other words, we must uphold that Paul's teaching regarding cessation had to be compatible with his perception that Christ could return during the life of the apostle or that first generation. In short, the original proof still stands.