Archive for the ‘Michael Brown’ Category

Waldron’s Cascade Argument

November 11, 2013

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

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Response to Michael Brown’s "Be Careful"

October 28, 2013

Michael Brown’s recent article (link) is a good reminder that we should be careful about how we identify “another gospel” as such. Nevertheless, Brown seems to take this proper caution to humility too far.

Brown writes:

So let’s put the theological bombast aside and be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:3-6).

The problem is, theology matters. It especially matters when people claim to speak with the authority of the Spirit. We can hardly have “unity of the Spirit” when we serve the Holy Spirit and they serve a deceiving spirit.

Brown writes:

Why then must we be so quick to go beyond the rule of Scripture and take it upon ourselves to damn to hell other professing believers if—to repeat—they hold to the fundamentals of the faith and have not denied the Lord in word or deed?

First of all, we are calling these people to repentance, not damning them to hell. Brown needs to control his emotions.
Second, Brown is begging the question. We don’t agree with his position on the false prophets in the charismatic movement: rather we say that they do not hold to the fundamentals of the faith and that they deny the Lord by their words and deeds.

Brown states:

In other words, even though there are heretics, God knows those who are truly saved; as for us, if we claim to be His we must depart from iniquity.

God does know who are His. Nevertheless, God calls us to exercise discernment:

Romans 16:17
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

-TurretinFan

MacArthur & OSAS vs. Prosperity Gospel & Charismatics

June 24, 2013

Michael Brown recently wrote:

And which is worse? To preach a carnal prosperity message or to give people false assurance that, once they are saved, no matter how they live, no matter what they do, even if they renounce Jesus, they are still saved? Which message will result in more people being misled and finding themselves in hell?
Pastor MacArthur rightly renounces the carnal prosperity message, yet many non-charismatics who follow him embrace an extremely dangerous version of the “once saved, always saved” doctrine. Why the double standard here?
Again, I am not for a moment excusing doctrinal errors, emotional manipulation, financial greed or other spiritual abuses often perpetuated in the name of the Spirit, but it is absolutely outrageous that Pastor MacArthur claims, “The charismatic movement is largely the reason the church is in the mess it is today. In virtually every area where church life is unbiblical, you can attribute it to the charismatic movement. In virtually every area—bad theology, superficial worship, ego, prosperity gospel, personality elevation. All of that comes out of the charismatic movement.”

It seems like Brown is suggesting that a carnal prosperity message actually has power to save souls.  I would strongly disagree.

Of course, I’d also disagree with Brown’s characterization of MacArthur’s view on perseverance.  The elect will certainly persevere to the end.  This will be accomplished by God, just as all of salvation is by God.  That may even include them temporarily falling into very heinous sin, such as denying Christ multiple times (recall Peter’s sad example).  Yet ultimately they will repent (as Peter did).

MacArthur’s claim does not seem outrageous to me.  What does seem outrageous, however, is Brown’s following two paragraphs (immediately after his paragraphs above:

And he is quite wrong when he states, “Its theology is bad. It is unbiblical. It is bad. It is aberrant. It is destructive to people because it promises what it can’t deliver, and then God gets blamed when it doesn’t come. It is a very destructive movement.”
In reality, more people have been saved—wonderfully saved—as a result of the Pentecostal-charismatic movement worldwide than through any other movement in church history (to the tune of perhaps a half-billion souls), as documented recently in Allan Heaton Anderson’s To the Ends of the Earth: Pentecostalism and the Transformation of World Christianity. And professor Craig Keener has provided overwhelming testimony to the reality of God’s miraculous power worldwide today (see his brilliant two-volume study Miracles).

Brown’s response to MacArthur’s claim that the theology is not Biblical is to allege that it has been successful.  Yet one wonders about this claim.  No doubt the charismatic movement has widely proselytized, but if it is preaching a false Gospel and a false spirit, then what good are its large numbers?  One might just as well point to the billion plus Muslims as evidence of the good of Islam.  Surely Brown has the sense not to do that, so why can’t he discern the fundamental theological problems of the charismatic movement?

-TurretinFan

Thanks to LUBunkerman for pointing this out to me.

The Great Debate: Is Jesus God?

November 20, 2012

Drs. Michael Brown and James White debated Unitarians Dr Anthony Buzzard and Joseph Goode on the topic “Is Jesus God?” Rabbi Jonathan Bernis of the “Jewish Voice” television show moderated the debate.

(Part 2 – Not Embeddable)
(Part 3 – Not Embeddable)

-TurretinFan

The real Francis Turretin on: The Mosaic Covenant

September 15, 2009

Michael Brown at Pilgrim People has an interesting post in which he discusses the real Francis Turretin’s view of the Mosaic covenant (aka Siniatic Covenant)(link). I believe that the Thomas Goodwin blog actually delved into this subject a bit more deeply a while back (post 1post 2), nevertheless it is still an interesting topic. Brown is in the midst of an ongoing (I think) series on the topic of the relationship of the Mosaic covenant to the covenant of grace and the covenant of works. His blog seems to have a bit of the two-kingdoms and redemptive-historical influence, but there is a lot of interesting reading material to be found there.

-TurretinFan


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