Waldron’s Cascade Argument

Dr. Michael Brown and Dr. Sam Waldron had a very cordial debate on the question, “Have the New Testament Charismatic Gifts Ceased?” Dr. Brown’s rebuttal arguments did not appear to me to reflect an understanding of Dr. Waldron’s primary argument, the so-called Cascade Argument.

I strongly believe that it is important to a dialog that both sides understand the other. Thus, my hope is that by spelling out this argument in writing, I can clarify the argument to Dr. Brown, to those who agree with him, and more broadly to those considering the question of the gifts.

The Cascade Argument can be summarized thus:

1) There are no apostles of Christ on earth today.
2) Because there are no apostles of Christ, there are no prophets.
3) Because there are no prophets, there are no tonguespeakers.
4) In view of 1-3, there are no miracle workers on earth today.

1. There are No Apostles of Christ on Earth Today

A) To be an Apostle of Christ was itself a gift to the church, and the foremost of the gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:28-31 Ephesians 4:8-11 – Christ gave gifts to men, among them apostles.

B) The term “apostles of Christ” is to be distinguished from missionaries, aka “apostles of the churches,” which is a different office. Only “apostles of Christ” are no longer among us.

C) To be an apostle of Christ, there were three distinguishing marks:
i) Directly appointed by Christ (Mark 3, Luke 6, Acts 1:2, Acts 10:41, Galatians 1:1). That’s why the lot was used.
ii) Physical eyewitnesses of the Resurrected Jesus (Acts 1:22, Acts 10:39, 1 Corinthians 9:1)
iii) They are able to confirm their apostlate by doing miracles (2 Corinthians 12:12).

D) The apostles of Christ spoke authoritatively for Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 14:37).

E) There are five reasons we know from Scripture that the Apostlate ceased:
i) Ephesians 2:20 The church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, which alludes to Revelation 21:14. The analogy implies that the apostles and prophets were confined to the foundational period of church history.
ii) 1 Corinthians 15:8 Paul “last of all” was the last one to see the risen Christ. And since being a physical eyewitness to the risen Christ is one of the marks of an apostle, Paul is the last apostle.
iii) 1 Corinthians 12:31 and 14:1 indicate that Christians cannot seek the gift of Apostle of Christ – the greatest gift they could seek was prophecy, even though apostleship was identified as a gift.
iv) Galatians 2:7-9 Paul received the right hand of fellowship from the 12 apostles, but no one can today.
v) Ephesians 2:20 This passage describes the form of the New Testament as “apostles and prophets.” If there were apostles and prophets today, the canon would be open, as those apostles/prophets continued to speak authoritatively. But Charismatics (nearly all) recognize that the canon is closed, therefore they ought to recognize that the apostlate is also closed.

F. Apostolic Gift is Linked to Impartation of Other Gifts (Acts 8)
This suggests the cessation of the miraculous gifts.

2. There are No Prophets Today
A) The cessation of the apostolate creates the presumption or at least possibility of cessation of other gifts.

B) NT Prophets like the Apostles were foundational to the New Testament church. (Ephesians 2:20)

C) Definition of Prophet in Deuteronomy 13 & 18 was never rescinded, and this requires infallibility.

D) Just as the OT’s authority is summarized as “the prophetic word” (2 Peter 1:19-21) and its form is also described in about a dozen NT references to “the law and the prophets” or “Moses and the prophets”, so also the NT’s canon is summarized in Ephesians 2:20 as “apostles and prophets” (the prophets in question are NT prophets as seen in Ephesians 3:5; 4:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:28).

3. There are No Tongue-Speakers Today because Tongues was a form of prophecy.
A) Acts 2 tongue speaking is explained by reference to Joel 2, where it is described as prophecy.

B) 1 Corinthians 14:5 asserts the equivalence of the two gifts, if tongues is interpreted.

C) In both tongues and prophecy, the speaker is uttering mysteries, which refers to prophetic revelation (1 Corinthians 13:2, Revelation 1:3, 1:20, and 10:7).

4. There are No Miracle-Workers Today
There may be miracles today, but there is a difference between miracles and miracle workers.

The Cascade Argument was augmented by a dilemma as to the first point: if they accept the point, then they are at least cessationists in some form, since the first and greatest gift no longer exists; whereas if charismatics want to assert that there are living apostles of Christ today, then they are denying a clear New Testament teaching. Additionally, if such apostles exist today, then they have the same authority/infallibility that the original apostles had.

-TurretinFan

7 Responses to “Waldron’s Cascade Argument”

  1. Bo Says:

    I was wondering why my detailed rebuttal was removed.

  2. Bo Says:

    Should I re-post, or will it simply be removed again?

  3. Turretinfan Says:

    Possibly you left it under the old comment system?

    See: http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2014/02/back-to-blogger-comments.html

  4. Bo Says:

    Thanks for the outline. Being able to look at it, instead of trying to remember it, helps my old and weak mind.

    I would like to try to critique the weak points in the argument delineated above. I think that there are some assumptions, interpretations and assertions that deserve to be addressed.

    1. There are No Apostles of Christ on Earth Today
    C) To be an apostle of Christ, there were three distinguishing marks:
    iii) They are able to confirm their apostlate by doing miracles (2 Corinthians 12:12).”

    Though miracles were a sign of apostleship, they were not exclusively performed by them. The miracles are independent of apostleship and thus they do not necessarily cease by reason of the death of the “Apostles of Christ.” So, though this point is instructive for determining “Apostles of Christ” it carries no weight for the cessationist argument in general. The gift of “working of miracles” was separate from the gift of “Apostle,” whether of “Christ” or of the “Church.”

    1. There are No Apostles of Christ on Earth Today
    D) The apostles of Christ spoke authoritatively for Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 14:37).

    True, but not everything they said or wrote made it into scripture. So, this point does not have weight in and of itself for cessationism. Others spoke authoritatively for Messiah. The canon of scripture is not comprised by everything they said nor is it compromised by not having everything that they said recorded. Thus the canon is not in jeopardy of being incomplete if someone speaks authoritatively for Messiah today. Peter even commanded for those that speak in the assembly to speak “as the oracles of God.” And we do not have their words recorded in scripture. And our words, if we do this, will not be recorded in scripture either.

    1Pe 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
    11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

    To be continued…

  5. Bo Says:

    Continued from previous post…

    1. There are No Apostles of Christ on Earth Today
    E) There are five reasons we know from Scripture that the Apostlate ceased:
    i) Ephesians 2:20 The church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, which alludes to Revelation 21:14. The analogy implies that the apostles and prophets were confined to the foundational period of church history.
    v) Ephesians 2:20 This passage describes the form of the New Testament as “apostles and prophets.” If there were apostles and prophets today, the canon would be open, as those apostles/prophets continued to speak authoritatively. But Charismatics (nearly all) recognize that the canon is closed, therefore they ought to recognize that the apostlate is also closed.

    This passage does not necessarily mean the prophets of the “New Testament” times. Given the subject matter of Ephesians 2, (The joining of the gentiles into the household of YHWH) it would seem to be referring to the prophets of old that were used to write the then extant scripture. The foundation is those that spoke prophetically in the past for YHWH and those that spoke prophetically in the present for YHWH. The all-encompassing message is the foundation upon which we are built. We are His workmanship…both Jew and gentile. So the passage does not imply anything about the foundational timeframe/period but the foundational truth from start to finish. So we recognize that the canon is closed, but the two points above that prove that the “apostle of Christ” is no longer with us does not bear on whether prophets and prophecy and other gifts are still present with us. Apostles and prophets were used throughout history to establish YHWH’s kingdom, but all their words are not canonical. There is no problem with a closed canon and someone having the gift of prophecy. Their prophecies will simply be like the majority of all the other prophets and apostles, and even Messiah’s words…they will be true and also left out of the canon.

    1. There are No Apostles of Christ on Earth Today
    E) There are five reasons we know from Scripture that the Apostlate ceased:
    iii) 1 Corinthians 12:31 and 14:1 indicate that Christians cannot seek the gift of Apostle of Christ – the greatest gift they could seek was prophecy, even though apostleship was identified as a gift.

    This point is true to a point, but does not give credence to cessationism. The greatest gift that the Corinthians could seek was not a specific gift, but what was needed at the time for edification. Prophesy is of little use when someone needs to be healed of a sickness. Working of miracles does not help when we need perfect wisdom or knowledge in a situation.

    1. There are No Apostles of Christ on Earth Today
    F. Apostolic Gift is Linked to Impartation of Other Gifts (Acts 8)
    This suggests the cessation of the miraculous gifts.

    Suggestions do not count. Proof does. In Acts 9 Ananias layed hands on Paul for him to receive the Holy Spirit. Ananias was not an apostle. In Acts 10 Peter did nothing except preach and the spirit was poured pout upon the gentiles. He did not impart the gift of the Holy Spirit. The apostles were linked to getting things started…advancing the kingdom, but not directly to the impartation of the other gifts exclusively. One must prove exclusive gift imparting by the apostles to use this point for cessationism.

    So if we agree that there are no “apostles of Christ” on earth today without using the above assumptions that misconstrue passages to also mean that the canon would have to be open or that the miraculous gifts are inextricably tied to the said apostles, we have a clean/pure argument. It is bad logic, and possibly self-deceiving, to try to prove more than one point at a time. The other points must be proven by themselves or be a direct correlation of the whole argument. Thus far they are not.

    To be continued…

  6. Bo Says:

    Continued from previous post…

    2. There are No Prophets Today
    A) The cessation of the apostolate creates the presumption or at least possibility of cessation of other gifts.

    It only creates the possibility. A possibility is not a proof. It must be proved. Presumption can get us into real trouble.

    2. There are No Prophets Today
    B) NT Prophets like the Apostles were foundational to the New Testament church. (Ephesians 2:20)

    Please see my statements above concerning using this passage out of context. It is the old prophets that were used to pen the scripture that is being referred to here.

    2. There are No Prophets Today
    D) Just as the OT's authority is summarized as “the prophetic word” (2 Peter 1:19-21) and its form is also described in about a dozen NT references to “the law and the prophets” or “Moses and the prophets”, so also the NT's canon is summarized in Ephesians 2:20 as “apostles and prophets” (the prophets in question are NT prophets as seen in Ephesians 3:5; 4:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:28).

    I am beginning to think that the whole argument relies upon an interpretation of Ephesians 2:20 that is only a slight possibility at best. The first part of your statement is confirmation that the “prophets” that Paul spoke of is the “Old Testament” scripture since that is the way Peter spoke of it. Paul could not be speaking of the “N[ew] T[estament]’s canon” in Ephesians. Very little of it was written yet. We are not allowed to summarize it as such retroactively for Paul. The lists of Ministry gifts that you give reference to contain more than just “apostles and prophets.” Why are pastors and teachers and evangelists not part of the cessation?

    To be continued…

  7. Bo Says:

    Continued from previous post…

    3. There are No Tongue-Speakers Today because Tongues was a form of prophecy.
    A) Acts 2 tongue speaking is explained by reference to Joel 2, where it is described as prophecy.
    B) 1 Corinthians 14:5 asserts the equivalence of the two gifts, if tongues is interpreted.
    C) In both tongues and prophecy, the speaker is uttering mysteries, which refers to prophetic revelation (1 Corinthians 13:2, Revelation 1:3, 1:20, and 10:7).
    4. There are No Miracle-Workers Today
    There may be miracles today, but there is a difference between miracles and miracle workers.

    1Co 13:8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
    9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
    10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

    I appreciate that it is recognized that tongues is a form of prophecy. If prophecy has not ceased, tongues have not ceased and words of knowledge and wisdom have not ceased. That which is perfect has not come! Nothing yet has proven that prophecy has ceased, though. So, the 3rd point cannot be postulated…and neither the 4th.

    You summarize:
    “The Cascade Argument was augmented by a dilemma as to the first point: if they accept the point, then they are at least cessationists in some form, since the first and greatest gift no longer exists; whereas if charismatics want to assert that there are living apostles of Christ today, then they are denying a clear New Testament teaching. Additionally, if such apostles exist today, then they have the same authority/infallibility that the original apostles had.”

    The problem is that no real proof has been offered that one must have the same authority as the original apostles had in order to prophesy or speak in tongues or to work miracles or lay hands on the sick and see them recover or to impart such gifts. Paul speaks of women prophesying…so does Luke. Did they have the same authority as the apostles? Infallibility does not assume authority, but submission to/being under authority. Those that accept the first point without all the assumptions above are not “cessationists in some form.” That is changing the definition of the word that is applied to full cessationism. There is no such thing as a partial cessationist. If one allows the first point it does not begin the cascade. The cascade has to be proven starting at the second point and further for it to be a valid argument. This cascade argument has many problems, the most glaring is the use of Ephesians 2:20 to prove almost every point. And the interpretation of Eph. 2:20 used in the argument has been shown to be subjective at best.

    Shalom

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: