Is Continuationism Compatible with Reformed Protestantism?

Do Christians still receive extra-Scriptural revelation from God? Many think new revelation, or at least repeated revelation continues into the New Covenant era. This appears to be true even for many who lay claim to “Reformed Baptist” theology. True, some of these dear brothers only adopt a partial understanding of Reformed Baptist theology, admittedly so. Yet there are others who would like to utilize the Second London in defining their theological convictions. Is this a consistent practice? The Confession states:

1.1: The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary, those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.
2 Timothy 3:15-17Isaiah 8:20Luke 16:2931Ephesians 2:20Romans 1:19-21Romans 2:14,15Psalms 19:1-3Hebrews 1:1Proverbs 22:19-21Romans 15:42 Peter 1:19,20 )

Our Reformed or Particular Baptist forefathers jettisoned the idea of continuing revelation, and for good reason. You’ll notice in the above citation the articulation of conventional cessationism. This theological conviction doubled as an exegetical conclusion as well as an elenctic reaction against the Roman Catholic Church. It’s also a logical conclusion from a a conviction all Protestants ought to have. We could articulate it in an argument as follows:


  1. If the Scriptures are sufficient, there is no new or repeated revelation.
  2. The Scriptures are sufficient.
    Therefore,
  3. There is no new or repeated revelation.

You see, if we wanted to claim new or repeated revelation continues into the New Covenant economy, we must also admit Scripture is insufficient. But, why might this be the case? Well, if something is sufficient, like God’s special revelation, it necessarily renders supplemental revelation as superfluous. Yet, not only does it render supplementary revelation as superfluous, it would lead to a logical contradiction. If a particular tool (A) is sufficient for accomplishing a particular task, using another tool (B) admits just the opposite, that is, that (A) is not good enough and must be helped along by (B). However, if (A) truly is sufficient to accomplish this task then (B) becomes superfluous or useless.

Further, if (B) is useless, it ought not be used since God does not reveal His Word in vain (Isa. 55:11). An objection may be raised at this point that Scripture is sufficient unto salvation, but God uses many means in His providence to draw men unto Himself. I reply firstly that if Christians are to engage in anything and everything that may be used as a means for salvation, they may as well throw out the entire moral law and the regulative principle of worship. For God often uses the wicked to enlighten the elect. Secondly, Scripture is sufficient for both faith and practice. Not only is it God’s chief means to reveal salvation to sinners, it is God’s chief means to form the practice of believers. How could it possibly be more useful to recite a dream rather than preach the inspired and infallible Word of God to a disheartened soul?

Conclusion

Above, I laid out two reasons why continuationism is inconsistent with Reformed Protestant theology. The first reason is that the Second London (which represents the unanimous Protestant position on Scripture) takes an explicitly cessationist stance. The second reason is that continuationism is illogical in light of Protestant dogma. Scripture cannot consistently be said to be a sufficient tool if it must be helped along by some other instrument.

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