(A Parable about *Cessationism)
The restaurant is packed. Newcomers are regularly showing up to experience the fulfilling and delicious fare provided by the Head Chef, his cooks and wait staff. A glance around the dining room shows all kinds of people of different ages and lifestyles who have all come for the very same reason – they love the delectable, hunger-satisfying, enjoyable experiences that the Chef and his cooks in this restaurant provide. Sight, sound, smell and taste along with the “feeling” – the vibe this place offers continues to draw crowds.
There are families with children, singles, elderly couples, businessmen, truck drivers, ladies’ book clubs, all enjoying, not only the food, but the warm, accepting atmosphere of this growing restaurant. Unlike some establishments that seem to only cater to one segment of local society, this place seems to be able to move beyond those typical boundaries.
Over in the corner, sits a group of angry-looking guys who are grumbling about the whole experience – the way the restaurant looks doesn’t suit them, the way the cook dresses is disapproved. Nothing about this place seems to please these guys. They are food critics. They sit and argue over the menu and attempt to discuss the finer points of gastronomy and cookology, regularly challenging the cooks and the wait staff and even the patrons about the food they are enjoying. They say they do this out of a heart for the honor of the Head Chef. All the while, the Head Chef just keeps training new cooks.
The critics argue that the food isn’t real and it’s actually no longer available today and even dangerous – even though the menu nowhere says that these amazing “gifts” from the Head Chef and his “miracle” recipes have ever “ceased” to be offered. The critics claim that cooking these family recipes ended when the original “gourmets” died. Others argue that this food would no longer be cooked when the completed menu was made available. Yet when the finished menu was printed, it listed page after page of “miracle food” that the guests all call heavenly – but then they’ve tasted it.
The critics point out the misbehavior of some of the patrons – some children get unruly and out of order; some of the patrons are too loud and maybe even obnoxious about how much they love the Head Chef and the delicious food. Plus, the back room has parties going on that the food critics absolutely despise. The main dining room is filled to overflowing with people who are ordering from the menu, enjoying the fare, meeting new friends and coming back regularly for more.
The critics never leave the table in the corner. They continue to thumb through the menu, claiming they know it better than anyone else. Sadly, they never “taste and see that the Chef and His food is good.” The irony of the situation is they regularly ask for evidence of the food, but won’t taste it for themselves – doing so, would make them lose respect among the other critics. Oh, once in a while, one of the critics will sneak a bite and become a believer in the Chef’s continuing power to fill hungry hearts with his goodness. The critics just keep arguing, but never “tasting.” Honest people see the nonsense of this and try to reason with the critics that the menu is good, but it isn’t the same as actually experiencing the food. The critics argue that the menu is sufficient and the Chef and the menu are in unity. And with a mouthful, the hungry diners say, you’re right – you must try it. It looks and sounds great reading from the menu, but it’s so much better on my plate. Here, have a bite.
But the critics won’t budge. They just keep criticizing. The Chef loves them anyway, and in spite of them, keeps cooking for hungry lives growing daily in outrageous numbers.
*The belief that the demonstration of miraculous power through the gifts of the Holy Spirit is no longer available today.