Cessationists usually believe the miraculous gifts were given only for the foundation of the Church, during the time between the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, c. AD 33 (see Acts 2) and the fulfillment of God's purposes in history, usually identified as either the completion of the last book of the New Testament or the death of the last Apostle. Its counterpart is continuationism.
Types of cessationist
Cessationists are divided into four main groups:
- Concentric Cessationists believe that the miraculous gifts have indeed ceased in the mainstream church and evangelized areas, but appear in unreached areas as an aid to spreading the Gospel (Luther and Calvin, though they were somewhat inconsistent in this position. Daniel B. Wallace is now the most prominent scholar to hold this view).
- Classical (or "Weak") cessationists assert that the miraculous gifts such as prophecy, healing and speaking in tongues ceased with the apostles and only served as launching pads for the spreading of the Gospel. However, these cessationists do believe that God still occasionally does miracle-like activities today, such as healings or divine guidance, so long as these "miracles" do not accredit new doctrine or add to the New Testament canon (Warfield, Gaffin). John MacArthur is perhaps the best-known classical cessationist.
- Full Cessationists argue that along with no miraculous gifts, there are also no miracles performed by God today. This argument, of course, turns on one's understanding of the term, "miracle."
- Consistent Cessationists believe that not only were the miraculous gifts only for the establishment of the first-century church, but the so-called five-fold ministry found in Eph 4 was also a transitional institution (i.e., There are no more apostles, prophets, but also no more pastors, teachers, or evangelists).