Sixth Council meeting focuses on sign gifts

Sixth Council meeting focuses on sign gifts

A deep examination of signs, wonders, and whether such gifts continue in practice today was the focus of a special meeting of biblical scholars held September 18-19 at Baptist Bible Seminary.

"Has Cessationism Ceased? Or Do the Sign Gifts Continue" was the theme for the sixth Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics. The event drew more than 100 academics, pastors, and other church leaders. It included panel discussions, time for fellowship, and the presentation of 15 papers -- the most in its history.

BBC&S"We talked more than we gave papers," said Seminary Dean Dr. Mike Stallard. "That's always been my vision for this."

Organized and moderated by Dr. Stallard, the 2013 session followed similar meetings held since 2008. The next meeting, which will focus on defending premillenialism, will be held September 17-18, 2014 at Calvary Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO.

Papers will be posted later this fall on line at after feedback from the presentation and discussion is incorporated. Photos, a list of members, and information from previous Councils are online now.

Workshops and Discussion
The 2013 topic was a continuation of the discussion from the 2011 Council that focused on the Holy Spirit. The title, Has Cessationism Ceased?, suggests the decline among current evangelicals in the belief in the cessation of sign gifts. Many former cessationists have moved to an open-but-cautious view. The question before dispensationalists is whether such a view as open-but-cautious is compatible with dispensationalism.

Sign gifts include prophetic revelations and utterances, speaking in tongues and related interpretation, and faith healing among others.

"There's a difference between whether miracles happen today and whether sign gifts happen today," Dr. Stallard said. "We believe God can still do miracles through prayer. Sign gifts were a thing that were performed for the most part. Most dispensationalists reject the idea that these continue. The reason we do is we think that's where Scripture goes."

More than a dozen speakers participated in workshops, with papers presented and discussion times following. Special panels discussed how the cessationism debate affects local churches today and the nature of gifts of the Spirit.

A book based on the 2009 Council, "Dispensational Understanding of the New Covenant," was published by Regular Baptist Press. A book project is also planned out of the 2013 meeting, Dr. Stallard said.

Inside the Council
Dispensationalism holds to historical-grammatical principles of interpreting the Bible, including prophecy. The Council meetings add academic weight and credibility to the effort at keeping objective interpretation of scripture at the forefront of modern biblical presentation in churches and academia. The event has served as a forum for traditional dispensationalists to discuss biblical interpretation and related matters.

Dr. Stallard describes the Council as "a 20-year project" to advance academic dispensational discussions to the church level and beyond. The sessions alternate between BBS' Clarks Summit, PA, campus and other locations, with Houston the host site in 2012 and Kanasas City set for 2014.

"We must never lose our desire to think about practical application," Dr. Stallard said. "What we do needs to be seen and heard in other parts of the country."

The 2014 Council focus is on premillenialism, the belief that Jesus Christ will physically and literally return to the earth at the Rapture and his reign at the end of a period of tribulation.

Members of the Council steering committee are:
- Dr. Rod Decker, Baptist Bible Seminary
- Dr. George Gunn, Shasta Bible College
- Dr. Elliott Johnson, Dallas Theological Seminary
- Dr. Joe Parle, College of Biblical Studies
- Dr. Mark Soto, Grace Seminary
- Dr. Mike Stallard, Baptist Bible Seminary

Baptist Bible Seminary offers students a genuine blend of rigorous academic content and transformational hands-on applications. Six advanced degrees are available in several affordable and flexible formats.

To learn more, call 800.451.2287 or email

Posted on: 9/30/2013 9:07:43 AM

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