I stumbled upon Jack Deere's account of his rather dramatic mid-1980s transition from cessationism to continuationism as I was doing research for a seminary paper on cessationism. I was immediately gripped by his engaging story-telling and quickly surprised by the compelling nature of his arguments.
Ultimately, Deere makes a very solid case that cessationism, though espoused by those committed to the Bible (rather than charismatics who are supposedly more committed to experience and emotion), essentially stands on very shaky biblical ground. Deere suggests that a novice Christian, placed in a room with a Bible for a few days or weeks, would inevitably emerge a committed continuationist, never a cessationist. Cessationism requires careful theological and rhetorical tricks and must be trained into a person. And after searching for the biblical basis for cessationism from Warfield, Hodge, and others, I found his point to be well-founded. Quite frankly, cessationism seems to require significant extrapolation beyond the text of the Scriptures.
Though I enjoyed Deere's writing style and found his approach to be insightful, I have two primary and significant critiques. First, just as cessationists tend to argue against a charismatic straw man who doesn't actually exist, Deere seems to often make the same mistake and argue against a heartless, intellectually-obsessed cessationist that is surely the rarest of exceptions, rather than the norm. It was disappointing when he stooped to the level of arguing with a straw man of his own construction (though his situation as a former cessationist does give him the unique insider information to actually construct arguments against his former self).
I was also disappointed with the conclusions that he drew concerning the next steps for anyone in the midst of this theological conundrum. Quite honestly, his tone was sometimes rather condescending and arrogant in relation to cessationists. Though he was careful at other times to maintain a humble spirit, he seemed to ultimately suggest that anyone who doesn't fully embrace his newfound theological position isn't really experiencing an authentic expression of Christianity. It's one thing to try to help people discover something valuable that God has shown you. It's another thing, and decidedly less helpful, to imply that anyone who doesn't make the jump with you is silly or unintelligent or unspiritual.
Ultimately, I'm glad I read this book. I began the book without a firm position on the issue, but I would have considered myself a practical cessationist. After reading it (and reading from several cessationist authors, as well), I no longer find cessationism to be a teneble, viable position. Regardless of your personal stance, I recommend this book for all thoughtful Christians who want to wrestle with the implications of how the Spirit empowers us to live in the here and now.