(See original article by Samuel E. Waldron – The Case for Cessationism)

By C. Samuel Storms

In this brief response, I want to focus on four issues raised by Dr. Waldron. First, Waldron clearly believes that the cessation of apostleship has considerable if not decisive consequences for the cessation of other so-called miraculous spiritual gifts. In fact, he concludes his article by saying that we must consider “the possibility that the cessation of the apostolate means the cessation of the other miraculous gifts.” The tone of his article suggests he actually believes it a “probability” and not a mere possibility.

I fail to see either the logic or the biblical evidence for this conclusion. Conceding the “possibility” of the cessation of any or all miraculous spiritual gifts is something I’m more than happy to do. It’s also “possible” that I’m wrong in my belief concerning the perseverance of the saints and the nature of Christ’s millennial rule and the proper recipients of Christian baptism and any number of other doctrinal beliefs. But for this to be a meaningful argument, I need solid, exegetical evidence demonstrating my error on each of these points. And when it comes to miraculous gifts of the Spirit, that evidence is deafening by its absence.

Aside from the fact that I remain unconvinced by his arguments for the cessation of the apostolic (I await a cogent explanation of Ephesians 4: 11·14; see point seven in my article), conceding this point would hardly constitute a decisive triumph for Cessationism or even turn the debate ever so slightly in Waldron’s favor.

How does the cessation of apostleship indicate the cessation of the gift of word of knowledge or word of wisdom as exercised by average, non-apostolic Christians (1 Cor. 12:8)? It doesn’t. How does the cessation of apostleship indicate the cessation of gifts of healings by average, non-apostolic Christians (1 Cor. 12:9). It doesn’t. How does it indicate or even suggest the cessation of the “working of miracles” (1 Cor. 12:10; Gal. 3:5) and “prophecy” (1 Cor. 12:10; Romans 12:6; 1 Thess. 5:19·21) and the distinguishing between spirits (1 Cor. 12:10) and tongues and interpretation (1 Cor. 12:10), all gifts that Paul expected average, non-apostolic Christians to exercise for the common good and edification of the body of Christ? It doesn’t.

Second, Waldron also contends that “biblical prophets were foundational (Eph. 2:20), infallible, and canonical,” on the basis of which he concludes that “prophecy has ceased.” This argument is based on the false assumption that Ephesians 2:20 has in view all expressions of NT prophecy.

But if Waldron is correct, we must then believe that all those who prophesied on the day of Pentecost (old and young, male and female) were contributing to the foundation of the church, speaking forth infallible and canonical truths. We must conclude the same for the prophets in Antioch (Acts 13), the disciples of John (Acts 19), Philip’s four daughters (Acts 21), Christians at Rome (Romans 12), Christians at Corinth (1 Cor. 12-14), Christians at Thessalonica (1 Thess. 5), and Christians at Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:18). Does Waldron want us to believe that all these and no doubt hundreds if not thousands of other believers in the first century were all speaking foundational, infallible, and canonical words from God? If so, why do none of their prophecies appear in the foundational and infallible canon of Scripture?

Third, Waldron also contends that when tongues are interpreted they are “substantially equivalent to prophecy” and thus, like prophecy, have ceased. But Paul nowhere says this. When tongues are interpreted they function like prophecy insofar as they edify other believers. But nowhere is the gift of tongues based on a revelation as is the case with prophecy (1 Cor. 14:30). Tongues is simply prayer (1 Cor. 14:2, 14), praise (1 Cor. 14:15; Acts 2:11; 10:46), and thanksgiving to God (1 Cor. 14:16-17). Furthermore, on Waldron’s view, uninterpreted, private tongues would not be substantially equivalent to prophecy and would therefore continue today.

Fourth, Waldron argues that all those who “performed miraculous signs” were “apostles or prophets”. But this fails to note that people who were not apostles or prophets clearly performed miracles (see point three in my article). It also fails to note that the spiritual gift of “miracles” in 1 Corinthians 12:10 was given to average individual members in the body of Christ “for the common good,” not simply and far less solely to vindicate their message but to build up and strengthen and encourage other believers.