There is one more reason why I remained for years committed to the doctrine of cessationism. This one is not based on any particular text or theological principle; yet it exercised no less an influence on my life and thinking than did the other five. In mentioning this fact, I am in no way suggesting that others are guilty of this error. This is not an accusation; it is a confession. I am talking about fear: the fear of emotionalism, the fear of fanaticism, the fear of the unfamiliar, the fear of rejection by those whose respect I cherished and whose friendship I did not want to forfeit, the fear of what might occur were I fully to relinquish control of my life and mind and emotions to the Holy Spirit, the fear of losing what little status in the evangelical community that I had worked so hard to attain.
I am also talking about the kind of fear that energized a personal agenda to distance myself from anything that had the potential to link me with people I believed were an embarrassment to the cause of Christ. I was faithful to the eleventh commandment of Bible-church evangelicalism: "Thou shalt not do at all what others do poorly." In my pride I had allowed certain extremists to exercise more of an influence on the shape of my ministry than I did the text of Scripture. Fear of being labeled or linked or in some way associated with the "unlearned" and "unattractive" elements in contemporary Christendom exercised an insidious power on my ability and willingness to be objective in the reading of Holy Scripture. I am not so naïve as to think that my understanding of Scripture is now free from subjective influences! But I am confident that at least fear, in this form, no longer plays a part.
While I realize that different ones of us, even when trying to be as objective as possible, are probably going to come to different conclusions regarding what the Bible teaches about miraculous gifts, and the possibility of their continuation in the Church today, I think we all need to do a self-check from time to time, asking ourselves what is the real motive behind the views we take.
No doubt, many get "sucked into" the Charismatic movement, and "fake" the gift of tongues in an attempt to gain the approval of those around them. The motive of fear certainly cuts both ways.
And yes, as Storms confesses, we are all influenced, to some extent or another, by our subjective presuppositions. Hopefully though, with God as my judge, I am doing my best to read my Bible, with an open heart and an open mind, asking for and expecting the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If, as a result, the conclusions I make lead me to be considered persona non grata by certain other people, so be it.
If, in the meantime, you feel you are doing the same, and you come to different conclusions than me, (and you don’t embrace clear heresy, or persist in blatant, unrepentant sin), in the words of Twila Paris recently referenced on another post: "Brother, I commit my love to you."