Response to “To be continued?” #3

This is my third post in a response to Sam Waldron’s new book on cessationism called “To be continued?” (see part 1, part 2). The earlier posts dealt with my difficulties with Waldron’s basic premise, and particularly with his assertion that apostleship was a spiritual gift.

Waldron’s next section deals with prophets (over three chapters), and there are shorter sections on toungue-speakers and miracle-workers. I’ll deal with Waldron’s first chapter on Old Testament prophets here, and leave his thoughts on their continuation or cessation until a later time.

Old Testament Prophets

In dealing with the New Testament gift of prophecy, Waldron rightly emphasises that we must start with a proper understanding of prophecy in the Old Testament, and he suspects that most continuationists have a “superficial view of prophecy” (pp 48-9).

In defining Old Testament prophecy he looks to Exodus 4:10-17 and 7:1-2, and “together these passages teach us that a prophet was the mouth of spokesman of God”. He says from Deuteronomy 13:1-5 and 18:15-22 that there were two tests of a prophet. 1) whether “he led the people away from the revelation of the true God that had been given to them by Moses” (ie orthodoxy). 2) “if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken.” Waldron is clear that the latter two must be applied, though he seems to be less sure what we should do with the “signs and wonders” test from Deuteronomy 13. I found this particularly surprising given his insistence that New Testament miraculous gifts were signs affirming apostles, but I guess his difficulty stems from the fact that false prophets could pass this test.
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Articles in this series:

  1. Response to “To be continued?” #1
  2. Response to “To be continued?” #2
  3. Response to “To be continued?” #3 <-- This article

To be continued?

Tim Challies has posted a brief review of Sam Waldron’s new book on spiritual gifts, To be continued?. It’s good to see more authors putting pen to paper on this issue, because it seems to me that the reformed cessationists (with one or two notable exceptions) have been very quiet, and entirely unconvincing. I haven’t read Sam’s book yet (it’s on order :-)), but he does give a brief overview of it in an interview with Tim. The basic position seems to be this:

[Those who] would assume that cessationism was nonsensical and not even discussable would in almost the same breath admit or assume that Apostles no longer exist in the church today (“big A” Apostles). And I thought ‘that’s inconsistent.”… If there are no Apostles of Christ that creates the precedent for saying that, at least in certain respects, the apostolic period and the church today are distinctly different because the absence of Apostles of Christ is a great difference between the apostolic period and today. The first gift, the most important gift, is now missing in the church. I think that exposes a fundamental flaw in continuationist argument…

It’s a new argument, but I’m not convinced for at least four reasons: [Read more…]