2,000 years of miracles, signs and wonders

2000yearsCharismaticHistoryIs the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement (made up of those who believe that miracles, signs and wonders are still for today) a recent phenomenon within the last 100 years? Dr. Eddie Hyatt doesn’t think so.

To quote his book site, 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity offers convincing evidence that the modern Pentecostal and Charismatic movements are rooted in the two-thousand-year history of the church.”

The problem I’ve found with church history books is that most are written by Cessationists, so these inconvenient facts are often left out, which makes Hyatt’s book (first published in 2002) a refreshing scholarly resource.

I agree with Vinson Synan, Dean of the School of Divinity Regent University, who said in the foreword, “Hyatt’s work is another in a stream of scholarly works that are driving nails in the coffin of the Warfield theory of the cessation of miraculous signs and wonders after the end of the apostolic age.”

I wrote a post last year along these lines here:

Hyatt is no novice when it comes to church history. He holds a Doctor of Ministry from Regent University where he majored in church history and spiritual renewal. He also holds the Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Pentecostal-Charismatic Studies from Oral Roberts University. Eddie has lectured on revival, church history and various Biblical themes in churches, conferences and some of the major educational institutions in the world today. These include Oxford University in England, Oral Roberts University, Zion Bible College, Celebration Bible College, and Christ For the Nations Institute.

Hyatt documents revival/renewal movements from the Day of Pentecost to the present time and analyzes their impact on the larger Christian community. It’s fully annotated with quotes from original and secondary documents that clearly refutes the idea that supernatural signs and wonders and healing ended with the apostles.

The book is laid out in eight parts. Each part is a segment in church history, giving authoritative documentation and interesting insights. Hyatt clearly shows that there is an unbroken succession of believers who walked in the power of the Spirit with supernatural signs and wonders in each period until today.

Here are a few quotes from the book that really tell it all (brackets, parentheses and bold-type added for clarity and emphasis):

“The church of the first century was a charismatic church…It was this dynamic activity of the Holy Spirit in the personal, individual lives of the believers and in the corporate life of the church, rather than the organizational structure, that provided the basis for its life, community and mission.” (loc.103)

“Justin [Justin Martyr (A.D. 100-165)] was obviously familiar with the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. In His “Dialogue With Trypho” he writes, “For the prophetical gifts remain with us even to the present time”….In another work called “The Second Apology of Justin,” he speaks of the ability of Christians in his day to cast out demons and minister healing” (loc.133)

“Tertullian (A.D. 160-240), in “Against Marcion”…reveals both his acquaintance with speaking in tongues and his belief that the supernatural gifts of the Spirit were a sign of orthodoxy.” (loc.161)

Just in case you’re thinking that those guys were before the completion of the Bible (a reason why some argue that the gifts of the Spirit aren’t for today),  here is some more inconvenient history:

“Athanasius (A.D. 295-373), known as the Father of Orthodoxy, was bishop of Alexandria in Eqypt. His life actually spanned both sides of the Council of Nicea (about the time the New Testament was canonized in its final form)…his writings reveal no knowledge of a theory that these gifts [of the Spirit] were to cease, nor that they were reserved a select, saintly few.” (loc. 372 and 386)

“Gregory the Great (A.D. 540-604)…In his “Dialogues,” Gregory records many miracles of which he had personal knowledge, including the raising of the dead.” (loc.446)

Miracles accompanied the arrival of the Gospel to Great Britain in the late sixth and early seventh centuries.” (loc.505)

[Hildegard of Bingen (A.D. 1098-1179)] “…had no formula but seemed to rely on the inner leading of the Holy Spirit….Contemporaries reported that “scarcely a sick person came to her without being healed.” (loc.547)

“Everywhere he preached [Vincent of Ferrier (A.D.1330-1419)], countless conversions and remarkable miracles were reported. Butler reports that some fainted or, as would say today, fell under the power.” (loc.574)

Hyatt documents the real reason why the charismatic gifts diminished:

“Professor James L. Ash, Jr. says that virtually all historians of Christianity agree that the institutionalism  of the early church was accompanied by the demise of the charismatic gifts.” (loc. 232)

“History demonstrates that the institutional trend…culminating in the ecclesiasticism of the medieval Roman Catholic Church and in its monarchical bishop….meant that spontaneous manifestations of the Holy Spirit became less and less desirable, especially by those in authority.” (loc.245)

“It is for this reason that Ash, in answer to the popular notion that the charismatic gifts were replaced by the New Testament Canon, declares,“The bishops, not the Canon, expelled prophecy.” (loc. 249)

This notion that the gifts ceased with the apostles (or canonization of the Bible) is a well-constructed myth. If anything hindered the charismatic gifts and miracles, it was the Spirit-suffocating religion of men, not God.

I will end with one more quote from the book site:

“Those who identify with these movements will be affirmed in the experience of the Holy Spirit and will gain a new respect and appreciation for the movement of which they are a part. Those outside the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements will also benefit by reading this volume in that they will gain an understanding of this movement that Harvard professor Dr. Harvey Cox says is “reshaping religion in the 21st century.”

I have found the book to be a valuable historical resource that belongs in the library of any serious student of revival.

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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 37 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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8 Responses to 2,000 years of miracles, signs and wonders

  1. Seriously, I have never understood this, Mel. It is the gifts of the Holy Spirit, not the gift’s of the Apostles. It’s simple to me. Holy Spirit is still around, and so is His gifts.

    Scottish history is also litered with dozens of people who operated in healing, prophecy and miricles – from Columba, Ninian, St Serf, St Kentigern, to John Alexander Dowie and to the current day. These guys healed whole towns.

    Cuthbert spoke to weather patterns, and stilled storms. Patrick (Irish), cursed all the snakes on Ireland, and commanded them never to return to the island. Columba commanded the Loch Ness Monster to never return to land, according to the historical book by Adomnan. (True story)

    You should read the book called Scots Worthies btw. It is FULL of this stuff too. John Knox, Alexander “Prophet” Peden, Donald Cargill, James Rewick, and Samuel Rutherford to name but a few. i.e. the Covenanters and prophets. Hundreds of healings and miricles can be attributed to these guys. George Wishart and John Knox had an incredible gift of the spirit of prophecy. History attests to this. No one can argue with this.

    Even the Scottish kings were noted for healing and miracles too, i.e. Robert the Bruce used to walk down the road and put his hands on people and heal them! English history is the same. It’s litered with this. Julian of Nowich etc.

    What about people like St Francis, Dominic, and the mendicants too? St John of the Cross?

    Seriously, there is no excuse for cessationism. Have you read Jack Deere’s book on all this, Surpised by the Voice of God? V good. We saw him a few times in Scotland about 20 years ago speaking on this stuff. There’s always a remnant, Mel, always.

    Blessings
    JF

    The other one that bugs me is the notion of the 400 silent years from Malachi to Matthew….but that’s another story and lie.

    • Mel Wild says:

      I’ve never understood it either, John. You have to be taught not to believe these things. And just plain willful ignorance of history. It just shows that people will believe (and interpret the Bible) the way they want to, rather than believe what it actually says.

      A lot of the people you mentioned are in the book. In the book, “Saints who Raised the Dead,” it records over 400 people brought back to life! Hello??? I haven’t read Scots Worthies. I will need to get that one. Sounds interesting.

      I’ve read Jack Deere’s book, “Surprised by the Power of the Spirit” but not that one. He gets to speak at a lot of non-charismatic churches and mainline renewal churches because of his scholarly background. When I saw Him in Minneapolis with Graham Cooke about ten years ago, he introduced himself as a recovering Pharisee! 🙂

  2. Jack Deere is a legend. Love that guy, he is so humble. Seriously, i’ve read his first book surprised by the spirit, but surprised by the voice is awesome. Scots Worthies is a very thick book. Some amazing stories in there. Scotland has an incredible spiritual history, especially in the prophetic, healing, and miracles. We sent the gospel to the entire planet over a period of 1500 years. And, look at us now. Anyway, good post, bro. Peace.

  3. Thanks for this post, Mel! I am adding another book to my list! I don’t get the reasoning behind cessationists. Did not the prophet Joel say in the last days the Lord would pour out His spirit on His sons and daughters? Are we not still living in the last days? If we are, like I believe we are, than wouldn’t it stand to reason that we NEED the outpouring of the Spirit even more NOW that we are so close to the end of days than those living in the book of Acts? Oh how we need the gifts of the Spirit to live out these last days!!! Even more now than ever!!!

    • Mel Wild says:

      That makes sense to me. We need these gifts now. We certainly won’t need them when we’re in heaven! Without the supernatural, our Christianity isn’t much different than a humanistic social club. Thanks for your comments. Blessings.

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