Interview #31 – Sam Waldron & Michael Brown DEBATE “Have NT Charismatic Gifts Ceased?” [MP3]

Waldron Brown Debate - MCTS

On episode 31 of our podcast, we feature the audio of the debate that was livestreamed (view videoon November 7, 2013 between Dr. Sam Waldron and Dr. Michael Brown on the thesis “Have the New Testament Charismatic Gifts Ceased?” (Moderated by Dr. James White | Hosted by Alpha and Omega Ministries).

Next week we follow up with Dr. Waldron regarding the debate.

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Dr. Sam Waldron:

Sam WaldronDr. Sam Waldron is the academic dean of MCTS and professor of Systematic Theology. He is also one of the pastors of Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Owensboro, KY. Dr. Waldron received a B.A. from Cornerstone University, an M.Div. from Trinity Ministerial Academy, a Th.M. from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. From 1977 to 2001 he was a pastor of the Reformed Baptist Church of Grand Rapids, MI. Dr. Waldron is the author of numerous books including A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, The End Times Made Simple, Baptist Roots in America, To Be Continued?: Are the Miraculous Gifts for Today?, and MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response. Dr. Waldron is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society.

Dr. Michael Brown:

dr_michael_brownMichael L. Brown is the founder and president of FIRE School of Ministry in Concord, North Carolina, director of the Coalition of Conscience, and host of the daily, nationally, syndicated talk radio show, The Line of Fire, as well as the host of the Jewish-outreach, documentary TV series, Think It Thru, which airs internationally on the INI network.  He holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a visiting or adjunct professor at Southern Evangelical Seminary, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (Charlotte), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Fuller Theological Seminary, Denver Theological Seminary, the King’s Seminary, and Regent University School of Divinity, and he has contributed numerous articles to scholarly publications, including the Oxford Dictionary of Jewish Religion and the Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament. Dr. Brown is the author of 25 books including Authentic Fire: A Response to John MacArthur’s Strange Fire.

Format:

  1. Michael Brown (1) Opening – 15 min.
  2. Sam Waldron (2) Opening 15 min.
  3. (1) Rebuttal 10 min
  4. (2) Rebuttal 10 min
  5. Cross Examination (1) 15 min.
  6. Cross Examination (2) 15 min.
  7. Closing (1) 5 min.
  8. Closing (2) 5 min.

 

 Update Nov. 15, 2013: Post-debate discussion we had with Dr. Waldron

16 Replies to “Interview #31 – Sam Waldron & Michael Brown DEBATE “Have NT Charismatic Gifts Ceased?” [MP3]”

  1. This may be a silly question, I honestly don’t know, but I’ll ask anyway. Is the issue of cessationism clearly spoken of in the 1689? Let’s say that it is, in favor of the cessationist position, which I’m assuming would be the position if it were…If someone were to believe and affirm the entirety of the 1689 confession except for that portion, and instead held to continuationism, could they still claim the 1689 as their confession, or be considered a “Reformed Baptist”/1689r? Again, I don’t know if that’s a silly question or not but I am genuinely curious.

    1. Good question. I think the nature of confessionalism and how confessions are meant to operate implies that if someone confesses or subscribes to a document, they’re making the statement that that document is an accurate summary of Scripture. Anyone is free to say, “I subscribe to the 1689 confession except for section xyz.” Whether or not that exception disqualifies someone as being considered a RB is debatable and depends on your definition of “Reformed Baptist.” It’s really a question of one’s definition of what it means to be confessional, and how one defines certain labels. Check out the first appendix here for a good article on ARBCA’s approach: http://www.arbca.com/arbca-constitution

      1. Okay here’s another one. What about “concentric cessationism”? Would that fit under the umbrella of acceptable cessationism according to the 1689 and those who confess it? My understanding is that Daniel Wallace may believe this brand of cessationism. Maybe? Monergism.com has this explanation on their website and it says that, though somewhat inconsistent about it, Luther and Calvin held to this position: “Concentric Cessationists believe that the miraculous gifts have indeed
        ceased in the mainstream church and evangelized areas, but appear in
        unreached areas as an aid to spreading the Gospel (Luther and Calvin,
        though they were somewhat inconsistent in this position).” This is a newer one to me but I see where they are coming from. I know that most of the folks will be the “classic” brand and I’ve heard James White describe himself as a “soft cessationist” but this particular concentric type I have just learned about and I was curious if it would qualifty.

          1. Okay yeah I’m getting the picture. The part on missionaries is pretty clear. No difference between there and here. Thanks!

          2. Okay, Jason. Sorry I’ve got one more and then I’ll leave you alone about this. You must be getting tired of my questions about this, I’m just genuinely trying to wrestle with this issue. Answer if you have time, if not I understand. I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t feel like the answer was not clear in the documents you have generously provided. I’ve been reviewing this ARBCA document and I’ve been listening to James White again as well. We would all consider Dr. White a “Reformed Baptist” who holds to the 1689, right? The ARBCA document says that,

            “the
            position of ARBCA is that the LBC expresses a full cessationist view” that being, “The continuation of objective revelation or revelatory gifts is rejected
            as opposed to the LBC and a danger to the doctrine of sola scriptura.” But on the Dividing Line 10/24/13, Dr. White made these comments starting at around 55:04: “ No
            one is saying the Spirit is absent. No one is saying the Spirit cannot do
            supernatural things. We are disputing a little bit as to what is, more
            importantly, supernatural. Because I don’t believe that speaking in unknown
            tongues is a relevant gift, unless it’s on the mission field and you’re
            communicating with tribes, that have no translators. I’ll leave that one open.
            [I would] Love to see that happen.” From all I’ve read so far Dr. White is professing a belief in the “classical” or “soft” cessationism position as opposed to the “full” or “strict” cessationism that the ARBCA is saying is professed by the LBC. To further my point, Dr. White goes on in the same program starting around 17:50 to say:

            “Then
            I discovered that there is a stricter form of cessationism. Now, if there’s a
            stricter form of cessationism, does that make me a moderate
            continuationist?…I discovered that among some Reformed folks, even believing
            the idea that the Spirit of God gifts men in particular ways for particular
            ministries—there are people who say that doesn’t even happen…I do clearly
            believe that the Spirit of God gives gifts…If cessationism means there are no
            gifts of the Spirit then I’m not a cessationist, but that’s not how I
            understood it.” Now in all fairness, the ARBCA does say there is the possibility of room for inclusion for those who: 1)

            “adhere
            to a strict cessationism, and who deny the continuance of the revelatory gifts,
            yet who cannot deny that some extraordinary events have occurred in history to
            faithful Reformed me”; and 2)

            “may
            use careless wording to describe Holy Spirit illumination, even though they
            accept the full cessationist position…Such language simply may be an expression
            of Holy Spirit illumination and application of God’s truth to the mind,
            expressed in confusing or careless terms because of the widespread us of such
            language in the Christian culture.” If we were going to place Dr. White in any category would it not be the classical or soft cessationist view, and would he not have to qualify as a member of the ARBCA, if he were to qualify, under the first of these two exceptions? Dr. White seems to believe that the gift of tongues is something we still have access to on the mission field. Does that not change things? Does it not seem to stray from the position of the ARBCA, or at least the ideal position of its ministers? As a disclaimer, none of this is me questioning the honesty of Dr. White or anyone else. I love Dr. White and his program and I am very appreciative of all he does and all that you guys at The Confessing Baptist do as well.

          3. You are no bother at all, in fact, I delight to see someone studying hard and trying to figure out things… I’d much rather work with a person like you :)

            That said, I am no authority on this and am just going off what I recall from Dr. White on those Dividing Lines… and the impression I got was when he was talking about “full cessationism” he was referring to folks who don’t think there are ANY spiritual gifts now-a-days. And I, like him, had never heard of that. Thus, I assume that is a minority and I don’t know of any Reformed Baptist churches that would say something like that. So when he had that in mind that is what he meant when he was talking about a moderate view.

            If I had more time here, I would actually argue that we have more of a reliance on the Holy Spirit cause we trust God to work through the means by which he has promised to work, and we don’t look to outside things… hence the focus on worship that is regulated by God’s word.

            Honestly, the way Dr. White worded it can be confusing cause he was so rejecting what people were saying “cessationism” was, but all I understood him to be saying was, “if that is what that is, then i’m not that”… it would be like if someone said, “Christianity means you have 10 wives and have to work your way to salvation and hate everyone.”… and I would say, “If that is Christianity, then I am no Christian.” Make sense?

            God bless you in your studies. I pray you come to a conviction according to God’s word and live it out the rest of your days. God bless brother.

          4. Okay, Jason. Sorry I’ve got one more and then I’ll leave you alone about this. You must be getting tired of my questions about this, I’m just genuinely trying to wrestle with this issue. Answer if you have time, if not I understand. I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t feel like the answer was not clear in the documents you have generously provided. I’ve been reviewing this ARBCA document and I’ve been listening to James White again as well. We would all consider Dr. White a “Reformed Baptist” who holds to the 1689, right? The ARBCA document says that, “the position of ARBCA is that the LBC expresses a full cessationist view” that being, “The continuation of objective revelation or revelatory gifts is rejected as opposed to the LBC and a danger to the doctrine of sola scriptura.” But on the Dividing Line 10/24/13, Dr. White made these comments starting at around 55:04: “No one is saying the Spirit is absent. No one is saying the Spirit cannot do supernatural things. We are disputing a little bit as to what is, more importantly, supernatural. Because I don’t believe that speaking in unknown tongues is a relevant gift, unless it’s on the mission field and you’re communicating with tribes that have no translators. I’ll leave that one open. [I would] Love to see that happen.” From all I’ve read so far Dr. White is professing a belief in the “classical” or “soft”cessationism position as opposed to the “full” or “strict” cessationism that the ARBCA is saying is professed by the LBC. To further the point, Dr. White goes on in the same program starting around 17:50 to say: “Then I discovered that there is a stricter form of cessationism. Now, if there’s a stricter form of cessationism, does that make me a moderate continuationist?…I discovered that among some Reformed folks, even believing the idea that the Spirit of God gifts men in particular ways for particular ministries—there are people who say that doesn’t even happen…I do clearly believe that the Spirit of God gives gifts…If cessationism means there are no gifts of the Spirit then I’m not a cessationist, but that’s not how I understood it.” Now in all fairness, the ARBCA does say there is the possibility of room for inclusion for those who: 1) “adhere to a strict cessationism, and who deny the continuance of the revelatory gifts, yet who cannot deny that some extraordinary events have occurred in history to faithful Reformed men”; and 2) “may use careless wording to describe Holy Spirit illumination, even though they accept the full cessationist position…Such language simply may be an expression of Holy Spirit illumination and application of God’s truth to the mind, expressed in confusing or careless terms because of the widespread use of such language in the Christian culture.” If we were going to place Dr. White in any category would it not be the classical or soft cessationist view, and would he not have to qualify as a member of the ARBCA, if he were to qualify, under the first of these two exceptions? Dr. White seems to believe that the gift of tongues is something we still have access to on the mission field. Does that not change things? Does it not seem to stray from the position of the ARBCA, or at least the ideal position of its ministers? As a disclaimer, none of this is me questioning the honesty of Dr. White or anyone else. I love Dr. White and his program and I am very appreciative of all he does and all that you guys at The Confessing Baptist do as well. Here’s the link to the episode of the DL I’ve discussed here: http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php/2013/10/24/today-on-the-dividing-line-continuationism-cessationism/

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