Have Charismatic Gifts Ceased?


From October 16 to 20, 2013, John MacArthur and The Master’s Seminary hosted a conference on the charismatic movement entitled “Strange Fire” that featured several popular mega-church pastors and radio personalities. The lectures from that conference are online for free download.

I haven’t listened to any of these lectures, nor do I have any interest in doing so, however, the good folks at the Confessing Baptist blog teamed up with the Dividing Line to host a debate between a cessationist and a non-cessationist on November 7. The debate format was very edifying because it allowed both sides to present their arguments and examine the other side in a brotherly, yet challenging manner.

The topic of the debate was: Have New Testament Charismatic Gifts Ceased?

Taking up the negative side was highly respected radio host and Semitic language expert Dr. Michael Brown (Arminian and Charismatic). The positive side was led by the dean of the Midwest Center for Theological Studies, Dr. Samuel Waldron (Calvinist Cessationist). More information about the speakers can be found by clicking HERE.

The audio can be downloaded by clicking the picture below:


The Arguments

The basic tenor of Michael Brown’s argument is that since miraculous gifts accompanied the preaching of the gospel during the apostolic era, and since the Scripture makes no mention of these gifts being taken away, that they are normative for all of church history.

Dr. Waldron makes the following counter-argument:

Note: This is my interpretation of Dr. Waldron’s argument and not a transcription:

“The Cascade Argument”

  1. The apostolic era has ended (there are no apostles of Christ alive today)
  2. Since the apostolic era has ended, there is no prophetic ministry
  3. Because there are no prophets, there are no “tongues speakers”
  4. If “tongues speaking” is not normative for today, charismatic gifts should not be seen to be normative for today

Notes:

  • The apostolic office was a gift to the church (Eph 4:8,11-12)
  • If one agrees that the apostolic gift is no longer given (the greatest gift given the church), why should we assume the lesser gifts are still given?
  • NT prophets were foundational to the church (Eph 2:20). The foundational ministries are not continuing (as the example of the apostolic office shows).
  • Dt 13 and 18 requires a prophetic word to be infallible. Does that match any prophetic voice we hear today?
  • Because there are no prophets, there are no tongues speakers (because tongues is a form of prophecy – Acts 2, 1 Cor 14)
  • Miracles happen today, but there are no miracle workers. There is a difference between miracles and miracle working gifts

Listen to the entire debate to see which side you fall on.

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