Saturday, October 19, 2013

Zero tolerance cessationism

Conservatives and libertarians periodically highlight stories about zero tolerance policies run amok. This typically happens in public schools. If a 5-year-old makes a hand gesture miming a pistol, he's expelled. If a student plays with a toy gun on the front lawn of his home, he's expelled. If an asthmatic student brings an inhaler to school, he's expelled. If he suffers an asthma attack at school, teachers will stand by while he dies of asphyxiation rather than administer the forbidden inhaler to the incapacitated student. If a 5-year-old hugs his kindergarten teacher, the police are called. He's charged with sexual harassment. Labelled a sexual predator. 
Zero tolerance policies are applied robotically, without any regard for accidents or extenuating circumstances. Enforcement fails to distinguish between appearance and reality. 
This is appealing because it's simplistic. Once you put the rules in place, you can turn your brain off. You mindlessly enforce the rules, regardless of whether they are good rules or bad rules. Regardless of whether they make any sense in any particular situation. 
When MacArthurites attack charismatic theology, they often mirror the zero tolerance mindset of public school teachers and administrators. They decry the lack of discernment in charismatic circles, yet they themselves resist elementary standards of discernment when it comes to distinguishing between behavior and theology, charlatans and reputable charismatics. Unfortunately, MacArthur and his acolytes are teaching Christians to be singularly undiscerning. 
Genuine discernment requires you to differentiate the best representatives from the worst representatives. The worst representatives are fair game. But it's undiscerning to imagine that doing exposés of the worst representatives ipso facto discredits the best representatives. That's illogical. That replicates the brainless mentality of so many teachers and principals in public schools.  Pinhead bureaucrats who refuse to exercise rational discrimination. 


  1. Matthew Schultz

    Ed Dingess said: "Apparently you do not realize that most people reading your blog are in full agreement with our concern about the false church produced by Pentecostal theology."

    How do you know that "most people reading" think one way or the other, let alone in "full agreement" with you? And how does that matter? Is that some sort of fallacious appeal to consensus/popularity? The Old Testament is rife with examples of Godly believers completely outnumbered by both pagans and unregenerate Israelites.

  2. How is it "indisputable? Evidence?

  3. After reading Kevin DeYoung's post summing up Milne's work (of which I have ordered to read) and a few of your posts on the same subject, how about we coin the label of "Neo-Cessationist" or "Hyper-Cessationist" for the MacArthurite camp?