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Knock it off, John MacArthur

Well… that’s the message from Michael Brown (who writes for Charisma Magazine) to John MacArthur.

It seems that MacArthur is holding a “Strange Fire” conference right now in Southern California to help pastors ‘evaluate the claims of those in the charismatic movement’ and help those in attendance immerse themselves ‘in the Word of God and sweet fellowship of like-minded believers’.

But it appears that charismatics are not what MacArthur would consider ‘like-minded believers’.

In fact, a response to Michael Brown’s original article asking MacArthur to reconsider the conference was quite pointed in a blog post on MacArthur’s site entitled “Leveling Charges Against John MacArthur”.

(Never mind the fact that MacArthur is doing a conference leveling charges against a whole host of his fellow believers).

Fred Butler writes: I believe Brown is wildly off-target with his critical remarks against John MacArthur.  In fact, I am deeply troubled by such a profound lack of discernment–though Dr. Brown has written so thoughtfully on important aspects of apologetics, he dismisses the serious theological errors prevalent within the charismatic movement as mere “excesses.”

Yeouch.

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone just fell in line with MacArthur?

For one thing, there would be no more flat screen screen preachers.

Oh wait.

For reals, isn’t it possible to disagree with someone on a theological matter without casting them to the wolves?

Do we really need a conference to gather church leaders AGAINST a certain theology or viewpoint or movement?

Let me go on the record.  I DO believe that someone is ‘wildly off-target’ here.  And you don’t even need an interpreter to figure out who that might be.

But don’t worry.  I’m not planning a conference.

In fact, I agree with John MacArthur on much more than I disagree with.

So I’m praying for John today, and for the attendees of the Strange Fire conference… that they will have discernment, and that they won’t leave as a more powered up anti-anything crowd.

(We already have enough of that to go around).

Thoughts?



30 Responses to “ “Knock it off, John MacArthur”

  1. “For reals, isn’t it possible to disagree with someone on a theological matter without casting them to the wolves?”

    Todd, can you BOLD that statement?

    • Bill says:

      As a previous elder I have seen this movement create dissention and eventually a church split.

    • Gary says:

      A few years back, we sat in on a staff mtg at MacArthurs church. We left the meeting discouraged at the legalism and negative attitudes. The hypocrisy of it all? his so-called “church” is called “grace” – we found none. If you don’t agree with him, you are anathema. I pray for true revival for that group of people and him personally. Maybe one day, Christ will truly be glorified in that place. While I don’t agree with the whole charismatic mindset, leave them up to the Holy Spirit instead of – like MacArthur – attempting to control everyone and everything. The world loves folks like him and his criticism of others – what a great witness. Lord, forgive us!

  2. John A says:

    Sadly, there is something about our cultural mindset that generates more enthusiasm for an Anti-Something conference than there would be for a “Living the Truth more Enthusiastically” conference. It makes good economic sense to appeal to our cultural bent, but wonder if it doesn’t contribute to the spiritual illness of the Church in America.

  3. Barry says:

    Thanks, Todd. I agree with you, although I would describe my feelings about that conference as “grieved”. I’m sick and tired of all these people who act they are the only ones who understand God and the parameters of His kingdom. I have a feeling they might consider themselves the guardians at the gate, make sure the people who make into heaven are like them, you know… like God. It’s gotten to the point that there are whole groups of people have created God in their own image, and when He speaks, it’s only to say “Amen” to them. Get off your high horses. After forty years as a Christian the last thing I think is that I understand the mystery of God. I agree with the Psalmist when he said, “God is in heaven, and He does whatever He pleases.” Sounds sort of like He is still the Almighty. I would suggest that all these divisive champions just get busy going about the business of the kingdom, and stop trying to be the cleaners of the church instead of the fishers of men. Now, have at me, all you smart guys who know so much about the God I am so mystified by, enthralled with, and deeply love.

  4. Heath says:

    I am saddened by the idea of this conference. There are a lots of very thoughtful and intelligent theologians in the spirit-filled and charismatic community. and about speaking in tongues… 1 cor 14:39 comes to mind. if you look at who attacked Jesus it was people with this pharisitical attitude. whether you speak in tongues or not doesn’t matter much to me. whether you cop this sort of “im better than you” attitude does. Most charismatics like me view ourselves as fundamentalists first… Ok… breath Heath, breath…

  5. Mike Kjergaard says:

    Let me see if I have this straight:

    MacArthur ripping the charismatics = not okay.

    Dozens of people on this blog ripping the Church of Christ (see Duck Dynasty posts/comments) = okay.

    Got it.

    • Dr. Glenn Tabor says:

      Just for information without commenting…
      The Restoration Movement has 3 major divisions.
      Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) This is a “mainline” liberal denomination.
      Christian Church/Church of Christ (independent non-denominational) These churches are listed in the “Directory of the Ministry”. They have instrumental music.
      Church of Christ (independent non-instrumental) They generally believe with few expections the following:
      1. Having instrumental music in the church building is a sin.
      2. They are the one and only true church. All others are going to hell.
      3. If a person isn’t baptized they are going to hell.

  6. Todd, thanks for being honest and bold enough to speak the truth in a loving way. The church is becoming known inside and out as a group of people that can’t even love each other let alone love those outside its walls. That alone should be reason enough for this conference to be so poorly attended that it’s failure would serve as a wake up call to the many of the divisive parties in our ranks. Sadly, these actions cause us to be better reflections of those we are preaching to rather than the One we are preaching about.

  7. Connie says:

    Some people in the church I attend have a cult like veneration for MacArthur. They simply don’t see his attitude of ‘disagreeing with me is disagreeing with God’. I find him to be intentionally divisive and pray that he and the people who faithfully follow him will see the truth.

  8. Michael Brown can give it but not take it? Entering the arena to play the “these people are not real Christians” game brings risk to all the players. Just like Brown’s unfair attack on what he called the “hypergrace” movement, MacArthur’s attack on Charismatics is unfair and unfruitful. (And isn’t a conference against speaking in tongues a little dated?)

  9. Eldon says:

    I don’t agree with MacArthur but that isn’t the issue…..we seriously undermine the unity required (John 17) to convince the world….we don’t all have to agree about every theological issue but to display our disagreements in this manner in a public forum is ungodly

  10. Dave says:

    I don’t claim to know everything that John Mac is teaching or requires of his people. However, I do know legalism when I see it. I do recognize judgment with a view towards condemnation when I see it. Jesus spoke pretty clearly against both. I also that a huge amount of damage comes when anybody thinks they are the one true mouthpiece of God. They will know we are Christians by our love – or lack of it?

  11. Chris says:

    I am a Conservative Baptist pastor and my daughter is attending a Foursquare college. Going in we knew there were significant points of disagreement on the issue of spiritual gifts, but that does not mean we don’t agree on most everything else. I attended a Conservative Baptist college and there were bedrock points of Theology that had more roots in tradition than in scripture. My point being that we can agree to disagree on some things as long as we don’t compromise what scripture teaches about who God is and what He has done. Disappointing to hear of this conference. Graceformyheart, love your comment. Let’s move on to bigger giants like the need for workers for the harvest, and the havoc that contemporary culture is wrecking on our students.

  12. Dave says:

    Whenever anyone thinks they have the final word on anything and is the authority on everything, I tend to separate myself from them. They cause division – whether or not that is their intention. Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but those who humble themselves before the Lord will be exalted.

  13. Dave says:

    I’d say, do what God has called you to do and let those who want to waste their time pretending to be God’s fruit inspectors do so. Just keep living for the audience of One!

  14. Art Heinz says:

    What one believes and practices regarding the Holy Spirit, tongues, or prosperity for that matter does not rise to the level of orthodoxy and therefore is not a salvation issue. Heresy, in this hypercritical culture, has been reduced to anything one believer disagrees with another believer about. Perhaps it is time to turn once again to the counsel of Gamaliel (Acts 5:34) who wisely pointed out to the Pharisees that they could find themselves “fighting against God” (v. 39). Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is not ascribing something to the Holy Spirit He may not have done, but ascribing to the devil what the Holy Spirit has in fact done. Neither of these are optimal but which one is the greater danger and the most lethal?

  15. Cresanna says:

    Thanks for sharing these thoughts. As a charismatic believer (but with a very conservative background), I’m saddened by this movement against non-cessationist believers. The filling of the Holy Spirit is a powerful equipping for life and ministry, and I’m troubled that a man with MacArthur’s influence would use his spiritual authority to attack other believers for a difference in practice. The concerns he is championing as characteristics of charismatics are simply not true of a very large percentage. In the churches I have attended and served in, worship is in order, word of faith doctrine is not preached but rather disowned, and the gospel is powerfully proclaimed.

  16. Gary says:

    For all who are bashing MacArthur for his interpretation of scripture, you can debate your position here: http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2013/10/on-record.html

  17. Leonard Lee says:

    The difficult part of all this is that there is some crazy stuff out there and some really false teaching. There is an unwillingness to be discerning for fear of going against the Holy Spirit. There is some really bad representation from JM as to what many Charismatics think and believe.

  18. David says:

    @ Cresanna: You are very correct! :) So good to see a non-cessationist say he/she disagrees with the strange fire happening these days. Just because there is a small percentage does not mean Christians (especially Charismatics) shouldn’t speak out against heresy thought. In fact, Charismatics should be those crying out loudest because their character is being misrepresented.

  19. David says:

    Whats up with all of those who want to ignore scripture that CALLS us to call out those who are holding to some other gospel? Why are those who condemn those who are against doing that which scripture CONDEMNS labeled “time wasters,” haters, and “fruit inspectors?”

    • Art says:

      The short of it is an individual believing in a perceived gospel benefit (or not believing in a perceived gospel benefit) does not mean he or she is holding to some other gospel. In short, people are correcting others over nonessentials and ignoring the fact that they agree (if they are honest) on the essentials. That said, I think we all can do without the labels. Again, heresy is not when someone disagrees on some perceived benefit but a rejection of orthodoxy. Wouldn’t it be great if we would all focus on the lost instead of getting the saved saved again to our way of thinking.

  20. stevelong says:

    It is interesting to me that the discussion about tongues hinges on ideas like ‘prayer language’ and angel talk. The first example of tongues found in the Bible occurred when a Donkey spoke to her master…in his language. The next time we see tongues is on the day of Pentecost. These too were languages of men. Those present in Acts 2 said,”8 And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? This is what tongues are–the languages of the world. The Apostle Paul said to the Corinthians (Ch 14) ” 10 There are, perhaps, a great many kinds of languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning. Notice ‘in the world’. He also said, “18 I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; 19 however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.” Was he saying that he had the gift to speak senseless jabber or perhaps was he saying that as the Apostle to the gentiles he carried the gospel into many language groups and thus he spoke in tongues more than anyone. In Act 14 there is a curious exchange in scripture. “When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have become like men and have come down to us.” Why did the Holy Spirit through Luke tell us that the Lycaonian language was spoken.” This is an easy puzzle to solve. In Paul’s party there were those who were gifted to understand it and and through the Holy Spirit we are given a glimpse of ‘tongues’ in action. If people wish to believe that jabber = tongues they are free to do so but the only actual example of tongues that we have in scripture are those that human being speak. I have never met a charismatic who claimed to have the same gift that was demonstrated on the day of Pentecost. Even today there are Bible translators with Wycliffe who are spending painstaking years with un-reached people groups with the hope of translating the Bible after the unknown language is acquired the old fashioned way, time and commitment. If there are any people who truly have the gift as demonstrated in the Bible then Join Wycliffe and we could put a Bible in the hands of every language group this year. Then the coming of our Lord would be that much nearer. I agree with Macarthur on this. He has it right on an those who teach otherwise have cherrypicked their arguments and have refused to harmonize the whole record on tongues. The prophecy of Joel in the 2nd chapter of Acts suggests a window period of time especially if you are not stuck on the reference to the return of Jesus referring only to His final reture and the end of time

  21. stevelong says:

    It is interesting to me that the discussion about tongues hinges on ideas like ‘prayer language’ and angel talk. The first example of tongues found in the Bible occurred when a Donkey spoke to her master…in his language. The next time we see tongues is on the day of Pentecost. These too were languages of men. Those present in Acts 2 said,”8 And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? This is what tongues are–the languages of the world. The Apostle Paul said to the Corinthians (Ch 14) ” 10 There are, perhaps, a great many kinds of languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning. Notice ‘in the world’. He also said, “18 I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; 19 however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.” Was he saying that he had the gift to speak senseless jabber or perhaps was he saying that as the Apostle to the gentiles he carried the gospel into many language groups and thus he spoke in tongues more than anyone. In Act 14 there is a curious exchange in scripture. “When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have become like men and have come down to us.” Why did the Holy Spirit through Luke tell us that the Lycaonian language was spoken.” This is an easy puzzle to solve. In Paul’s party there were those who were gifted to understand it and and through the Holy Spirit we are given a glimpse of ‘tongues’ in action. If people wish to believe that jabber = tongues they are free to do so but the only actual example of tongues that we have in scripture are those that human being speak. I have never met a charismatic who claimed to have the same gift that was demonstrated on the day of Pentecost. Even today there are Bible translators with Wycliffe who are spending painstaking years with un-reached people groups with the hope of translating the Bible after the unknown language is acquired the old fashioned way, time and commitment. If there are any people who truly have the gift as demonstrated in the Bible then Join Wycliffe and we could put a Bible in the hands of every language group this year. Then the coming of our Lord would be that much nearer. I agree with Macarthur on this. He has it right on an those who teach otherwise have cherrypicked their arguments and have refused to harmonize the whole record on tongues. The prophecy of Joel in the 2nd chapter of Acts suggests a window period of time especially if you are not stuck on the reference to the return of Jesus referring only to His final reture and the end of time

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