Original Research - Special Collection: Trinity

Cessationism and continuationism: Pentecostal trinitarianism balances the tension

Kelebogile T. Resane
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 43, No 1 | a2669 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v43i1.2669 | © 2022 Kelebogile T. Resane | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 August 2022 | Published: 03 November 2022

About the author(s)

Kelebogile T. Resane, Department of Historical and Constructive Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


There are three streams of theological thoughts on charismata. The first thought is the cessationists who believe that all sign gifts were designed for canonical conclusion, and therefore ceased when canon was completed. This theological stance was endorsed by Reformers such as Calvin and some Catholics. Later, around the 17th century to date, this stance had been challenged by evidence of these spiritual gifts in operation. There are four mainstream cessationists. Firstly, full cessationists are totally anti-miracles. Secondly, concentric cessationists believe in the total cessation of charismata and miracles in mainline Christianity and evangelised territories. However, miracles may manifest in unevangelised areas as an aid to the missional endeavors. Thirdly, classical cessationists of whom the charismatic manifestations served as the launching pads for evangelisation and the affirmation of God’s revelation. Finally, consistent cessationists go further to declare that although the miraculous gifts were for church establishment in the 1st century, the apostles and prophets also ceased. The second thought is continuationism, which stands in juxtaposition with the cessationists. They are convinced that charismata never ceased. If they cease, it will be at the return of Christ. Pentecostalism, through its trinitarianism, stands in the middle of the two thoughts and enhances the continuationist stance. It is a movement that accepts the holistic or trinitarian view of God. The God of the Old Testament continues to be the God of the New Testament up to current times. Its trinitarian emphasis puts it above the cessationist-continuationist tensions.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The article’s intradisciplinary implication was realised through the appeal to numerous theological disciplines such as biblical studies, church history, ecclesiology and pneumatology. These various disciplines and doctrines argue that although cessationism and continuationism are common in theological thoughts today, Pentecostal trinitarianism is growing and gaining more ground at the grassroots levels.


cessationism; continuationism; Pentecostalism; trinitarianism; theology; charismata; canon.

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