The subject of spiritual gifts is an ongoing topic in the church that often times generates more heat than light. The matter of the sign gifts, in particular, is especially controversial. Continuationists set forth arguments in favor of the sign gifts. And advocates of cessationism do the same, marshaling arguments in the opposite direction. It is not unusual for the two sides to polarize, leading brothers and sisters in Christ in opposite directions.
Thomas R. Schreiner’s book, Spiritual Gifts: What They Are & Why They Matter offers a different approach, which seeks to unify continuationists and cessationists. Alert readers will notice that Dr. Schreiner dedicates the book to three well-known continuationists: Wayne Grudem, John Piper, and Sam Storms. They are referred to as “Beloved friends and coworkers in the gospel of Christ.” So immediately, it is apparent that Schreiner has motives which are virtuous and seek to unify.
The author begins by noting the general strengths and weaknesses of the charismatic movement. This delicate task is done in a humble, tasteful manner. After establishing the pros and cons of the charismatic movement, Schreiner launches into a discussion that concerns the spiritual gifts. He defines these gifts and offers ten foundational truths that help establish their importance.
The sign gifts are discussed in general as Schreiner presents the nature and significance of the gift of tongues in particular. Additionally, the author familiarizes readers with some erroneous arguments for cessationism. But the book concludes with the central argument for cessationism. Schreiner writes, “The basis for cessationism is the claim that the church was ‘built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets’ (Eph. 2:20). This argument is developed and convincingly presented.
Whether readers agree or disagree with the presentation and conclusions of the author, all will appreciate his careful exegesis, humility, and desire to build bridges with brothers and sisters whose hearts yearn to please the Lord.
Dr. David Steele has been in pastoral ministry since 1991. He holds BS and MA degrees from Multnomah University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary and a D. Min from Bakke Graduate University. Following graduation from Multnomah University, he served eight years as Pastor to Students at Lacey Chapel. In 2000, he became the Pastor of Theology at First Baptist Church in La Grande, Oregon where he served for over eleven years. In 2012, he became the Senior Pastor at Christ Fellowship in Everson, Washington.
He is the author of Bold Reformer: Celebrating the Gospel-Centered Convictions of Martin Luther, A Godward Gaze: The Holy Pursuit of John Calvin, and The White Flag: When Compromise Cripples the Church.
At Christ Fellowship he leads the staff, serves as the Pastor for preaching and vision casting, and oversees Veritas (adult theological education) and Iron Men (men’s leadership development).
His personal mission is to positively influence people, impact the world one person at a time and to glorify God by enjoying him forever. His passion in ministry is preaching, teaching, and leadership development. Specifically, his aim is to educate the mind, engage the affections, equip the whole person, and encourage God-centered living that treasures Christ above all things.
He and his wife, Gerrene were married in 1991 and they have two children.