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Wednesday, February 05, 2014 | Comments (33)

by Cameron Buettel and Jeremiah Johnson

In the final chapter of Strange Fire, titled “An Open Letter to My Continuationist Friends,” John MacArthur outlines several dangerous ramifications of the continuationist position. The first of those dangers is that “the continuationist position gives an illusion of legitimacy to the broader Charismatic Movement” (p. 234).

We recently saw why that warning was fitting when Dr. Michael Brown spent a week as a guest on Benny Hinn’s daily television program, This Is Your Day. Brown is a charismatic and is widely regarded as a first-rate apologist and Old Testament scholar. Hinn, of course, is a world-renowned charlatan who has conned untold millions of dollars from followers through his prosperity preaching and faith-healing ministry.

Brown has been one of the most vocal critics of the Strange Fire book and conference. His chief complaint is that John MacArthur and the other speakers at Strange Fire last October “painted with too broad a brush,” not always drawing a clear line of demarcation between the rank charismatic charlatans on TBN and more cautious charismatics like him. Now, just a few short weeks later, it seems incongruous that Brown would openly and unashamedly align himself with a noisome prosperity preacher and overtly avaricious swindler such as Hinn. But there you have it.

The topic of discussion on Hinn’s programs was how to find Christ in the Old Testament. Hinn exhibited all the decorum of a small child at a magic show as Brown worked book by book through the Old Testament, giving examples of appearances of Christ along with several instances of Messianic foreshadowing and typology. While Brown’s scholarship and recall were impressive, any lasting value was robbed by Hinn’s incessant interruptions. Hinn repeatedly reduced what could have been an enlightening, encouraging discussion of the gospel to a sideshow of theological novelties. In short, it was a fiasco.

Hinn’s television program reportedly has as many as twenty million viewers per day. Whether any of them came away from the Michael Brown episodes with any legitimate spiritual fruit is a mystery. What is certain is that a significant portion of that viewing audience sees no difference between Brown and Hinn. In fact, Brown’s obvious expertise only lent a false credibility to Hinn and the vaguely orthodox statements he made throughout the week. Brown’s guest appearances will also make it significantly harder for him to confront Hinn’s obvious abuses and heresies.

Rather than accepting Hinn’s flattery and defending his decision to share the stage with a notorious heretic, Brown ought to be using his influential position within the charismatic movement—including his nationally syndicated daily radio program—to call out false teachers like Benny Hinn.

But confronting theological error is scarce in Charismatic circles. While many within the movement readily acknowledge the presence of false prophecies, phony apostolic gifts, and heretical theology, there are very few who actually step up to confront those obvious errors. That passive stance contradicts repeated instructions in Scripture for pastors and church leaders to be on the lookout, ready to protect God’s sheep from spiritual wolves (Matthew 7:15-20; Acts 20:29-31; Romans 16:17-18; Titus 1:9).

Brown himself has dismissed the need for such confrontation, writing the following in one of his earliest criticisms of Strange Fire:

If a pastor is shepherding his flock and feeding them God’s Word and his people are not guilty of these abuses or watching these TV preachers, why is it his responsibility to address these errors?

Does Brown realize that his appearance on Benny Hinn’s show served as an overt encouragement to “his people” to tune in to one of the worst “TV preachers” of all time?

Sadly, Brown is not alone in his sentiments. Plenty of charismatics are incredulous at the thought that they have a responsibility to police their movement. Charismatic blogger Adrian Warnock tweeted his reaction during the Strange Fire conference: “If we researched & criticised all the crooks, cons, and cookies in the Charismatic Movement we’d have no time for anything else.”

Indeed. That’s the very point we are making. What Warnock and others like him fail to realize is that their argument is self-refuting and self-perpetuating. The overabundance of “crooks, cons, and cookies” in the charismatic movement is a direct result of the epic failure of charismatic leaders to warn about false teachers—blended with a truckload of doctrines, practices, and superstitions that undermine the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. Sadly, by refusing to protect the sheep, Warnock is accommodating the wolves—making the charismatic movement an even more noxious breeding ground for error and confusion.

In fact, when it comes to outlandish faith healers and prophets, Warnock—like many leading charismatics—openly advocates what he calls the “Gamaliel approach.” Gamaliel was an unbelieving Pharisee who counseled his underlings to stop harassing the apostles of the early church and let time determine the validity of their ministry (Acts 5:33-39). Essentially, Warnock prefers the pharisaical response to apostolic teachers over the apostolic response to false teachers. It’s a wait-and-see attitude that allows charismatics to overlook the worst examples of unbiblical doctrine and practice in their movement without ever openly disavowing them.

That’s not what a true shepherd does.

On that point God’s Word is inescapably clear: The responsibility of the shepherd is to identify the wolves and protect the sheep. Embracing and executing that responsibility in wisdom, grace, and conviction is one of the distinguishing marks of a true shepherd. It indicates the difference between those who truly love the flock, and those who are mere hirelings (cf. Matthew 10:12-13).

Over the next several days, we’re going to examine some of the key passages in Scripture that describe the pastor’s protective role, and revisit some of John MacArthur’s landmark teaching on this vital aspect of spiritual leadership and pastoral ministry.


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#1  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Wednesday, February 05, 2014at 9:07 AM

"If a pastor is shepherding his flock and feeding them God’s Word and his people are not guilty of these abuses or watching these TV preachers, why is it his responsibility to address these errors?"

This confirms once again that a lack of discernment is a characteristic of the Charismatic Movement. Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, TD Jakes, Sarah Young, and all the rest of the so-called "fringe" or "extreme" side of charismatics, are not supported merely by the people within their own churches. No, they are supported by millions--millions!--of people. They don't just sell their books to their congregations; they sell them by the millions to people from every denomination.

Unlike the days of the NT, geography is no longer a wall that limits influence. Any Christian with a TV or Internet connection (which is to say virtually every Christian) can be influenced. And by virtue of book sales, TV ratings, Facebook and Twitter followers, and more, we see that tens of millions are being influenced.

Therefore, a shepherd cannot say, "Our church doesn't teach these things, so why should I address these errors?" Every shepherd needs to know his congregation well, visit their homes, see what books they have on their coffee table, get to know the spiritual influences coming into the home; and then he can discern how strongly to address these errors. It will be a rare church where some, if not many, of the people are not taking in what these false teachers are producing.

#2  Posted by Phillip Johnson  |  Wednesday, February 05, 2014at 1:44 PM

". . . prefers the pharisaical response to apostolic teachers over the apostolic response to false teachers."

Good line. Great point. I hope readers don't miss the significance of that distinction.

#3  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Wednesday, February 05, 2014at 2:11 PM

"[...] prefers the pharisaical response to apostolic teachers over the apostolic response to false teachers. It’s a wait-and-see attitude that allows charismatics to overlook the worst examples of unbiblical doctrine and practice in their movement without ever openly disavowing them."

Exactly. And they never seem to know when the wait should be over as well.

I completely agree with Gabe, pastors MUST be aware of what goes on with their members, what are they reading, who are they following as a model.

Right after I got saved I tried to find a church close to us. I found one that seemed ok, not pentecostal, and one of the bible study classes was using MacArthur's material to teach 1&2 Peter. Every week when the women met we shared some time together and then each would go to their own classes. There were people from other churches coming to the studies. It was after I started asking where these women were coming from that I started wondering why they would feel so comfortable in this specific church. There were women from United churches, Catholic churches, even home churches (incidentally, one of them was even allowed to teach a class there). One of these women was regularly bringing Joyce Meyers' magazine to distribute to other members; every single copy that I could get my hands on ended up in the garbage.

The pastor was not concerned for a minute; I was told he trusted the women. We only stayed in that church for a few months (just in case anyone wonders, it was a Missionary Alliance Church).

Yeah, let's wait to see if this wolf is vegetarian. ;)

(hello Gabe!)

#5  Posted by Benjamin Mcmillan  |  Wednesday, February 05, 2014at 11:43 PM

"Yeah, let's wait to see if this wolf is vegetarian."

That's a good one and entering my vocabulary for future reference!

The sad reality is how few pastors realize the predatory nature of false teachers. The only conclusion I can draw in regard to it is the very real likelihood that most are hirelings and not shepherds.

There really is no such thing as a DMZ on the spiritual battleground of homes, churches, workplaces etc. This is a reality that I believe must be constantly reiterated in the modern western church obsessed with comfort.

In the word's of John MacArthur, "Good shepherds should be adept at throwing rocks at wolves as well as tending the sheep". :0)

#8  Posted by George Canady  |  Thursday, February 06, 2014at 7:50 AM

Should pastors teach the flock to pray for the wolves after the warning. Is this a fair question in view of the commands about how to treat enemies and neighbors?

#9  Posted by Bob Colby  |  Thursday, February 06, 2014at 7:59 AM

This past year has been a struggle within my church ,Christian Missionary Alliance, over not standing up to those that teach the word of faith heresy's and IHOP, Bethel with their Jesus Culture Band.

We supported the World Impact Tour (YWAM/IHOP, in our community. When I brought up the heretical nature of these organization to my pastor and on the CMA's forum site, this is the answer I got:

" I tried to respond a little earlier but for some reason my psting failed. Perhaps it was because I was ill an not thinking clearly. At any rate, although it seems the discussion has died down, I did want to respond briefly to the concerns expressed in the previous postings.

In short, the C&MA is not a part of the Word of Faith Movement. The movement misunderstands both the nature of God's Word and the true nature of faith as defined and demonstrated by the Word of God. This is not of course to suggest that everything said by those who adhere to the Word of Faith Movement is wrong. But it is to suggest that a great deal of descretion is in order. there can be no doubt that many people within the C&MA have been influenced by the Word of Faith Movement. It would be unusual if that were not the case since it has received a great deal of attention in the evangelical world as a whole. If you have concerns about what is being taught in the local church the first step is to speak to your pastor and elders. Having done that, you may also have the perrogative of speaking to your district superintendent. I am less familiar with the positions of the InternationaL House of Prayer so I am not able to comment regarding its theological positions. However, I can reaffirm that the C&MA Statement of Faith represents our best understanding of Scripture on key issues of evangelical faith."

I did talk to my pastor in great detail concerning the WOF and NAR positions. Results, the Sunday school class I was teaching was immediately vetted (1-3 John) to make sure I would not bring up any thing on false teachers but just express how much God loved us. Also our church group who meets in a home twice a month,had a lady bring up how her 16 year old daughter had "GOLD " dust on her hands after she had someone pray for her at a local IHOP connected event. I live in a small Iowa town and the impact of false teachers is taking its toll and no one seems to care.

Thank you GTY and Pastor MacArthur for bringing this the forefront. I am a Word of Faith and New Apostolic Reformation causality, and have had to relearn everything I thought I knew about scripture. this site has been life line for me. I am looking for a new church, because not being involved is not an option.

#10  Posted by Donna Williams  |  Thursday, February 06, 2014at 8:09 AM

Elaine, I must say, good for you! Even as a new Christian, you knew enough Bible to discern truth from error. And the fact that you tossed the Joyce Meyer literature where it belongs, well done.

I have been to churches in several parts of the country, and so many people just follow along what they are told, and do not go home and read their bible like the Bereans - " Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11).

One of the many, many things I loved at Grace Community Church is when Pastor MacArthur would say "turn in your Bibles to...." There are so many churches where people do not carry a Bible at all, because the verse(s) are in the bulletin, or up on a screen. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I learned early on at Grace to bring my Bible because I will be using it.

Anyway, I just want to enourage you to continue on and be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might....

#12  Posted by Phillip Johnson  |  Thursday, February 06, 2014at 11:15 AM

Here's a short addendum for the benefit of those who imagine John MacArthur has some kind of obligation to meet Michael Brown for whatever kind of "debate" Brown is spoiling for:

http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/articles/brown.htm

#13  Posted by Wendy O'neill  |  Thursday, February 06, 2014at 11:24 AM

Great article. I am encouraged to keep praying for those that are being misled and also for those that are doing the misleading (and swindling, in most cases). This convicts me to be studying scripture much more than I do. It's easy to judge, but a bit more difficult to be discerning when my knowledge of God's Word isn't what it should be.

It's been a continuing quest to find a church that sticks to preaching God's Word and expects the congregants to search scripture for themselves. So far, they're more interested in how many people they can get to attend, how they can increase their numbers. The word "hirelings" fits. Never thought of it like that, but that's the fitting word.

I've been invited to various Bible studies that were using materials by folks, who are popular, that I wouldn't want to have presiding over my dog's funeral. If asked why I choose not to attend, it can get prickly when I try to carefully explain why the author doesn't meet the standards for shepherding anyone. I need to work on "speaking the truth in love"!

Elaine Bittencourt, I hope you don't mind, but your quote of "Yeah, let's wait to see if this wolf is vegetarian" is going into my vocabulary! And this was the first time I read Pastor MacArthur's quote, "Good shepherds should be adept at throwing rocks at wolves as well as tending the sheep". As a mom, that makes perfect sense to me!

#14  Posted by Joyce Atela  |  Thursday, February 06, 2014at 12:19 PM

I am surprised Dr Brown would appear on Benny Hinn's show. To me it makes him look foolish & not a serious teacher. Whenever I see a person appearing with a false profit I think he or her must not be any different & probably in it for financial gain. There are so many false teachers out there, that's it's hard to find a good one to trust. Being trained by John we can see the false ones fast. Many I've listened to for years & finally they give away to wrong teaching & an alarm goes off. Most people are drawn to them because of there entertainment value. With new believers that's what happens. Getting off the subject, what do you know about Dr Tim Keller? His preaching is sound, I hope. Thank you! Joyce

#16  Posted by Raymond Kolman  |  Thursday, February 06, 2014at 12:37 PM

“the continuationist position gives an illusion of legitimacy to the broader Charismatic Movement” (p. 234).

I was at first under the impression this was going to be addressed, and illustration to some unavoidable consequences were given. However there seem to be an Informal fallacy here, namely,

(a) The charismatic movements has false teachers.

That man over there is an charismatic.

That man over there is a false teacher.

The kinds of hasty/sweeping generalizations are not biblical data to debunk the continuation position. Further, causal connection between continuationism and false teachers may exists, but evidence and an argument are needed to establish a causal connection. All this article does is tell a story of one guy doing his one thing with a false teacher. In fact this is a slippery slope, that claims that given one event, an alleged chain of events will follow but it offers little or no evidence to support such a claim

False teachers are just that. Continuationsist are brothers in Christ with real exegetical reasons for their position, and against the man arguments, and Bifurcation should stop.

#17  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Thursday, February 06, 2014at 1:37 PM

Donna, thanks!

#9, Bob, this exemplifies C&MA Churches very well: "not bring up any thing on false teachers but just express how much God loved us. "

Besides all that, they have very shallow preaching, they twist Scripture to make their point (i.e. Daniel didn't eat from the king's table because he didn't want to be a glutton), their "gospel" is very inclusive (saw a lady talk, from the pulpit one Sunday morning, about her trip to Africa with her daughter, and at the end she quoted something by mother Teresa because she (mother Teresa) was the greatest example of love - I later asked her if she had a bible and could not find an example there at all - perhaps, I don't know, Jesus Christ?? She didn't say anything, just smiled). They teach Rick Warren's books, are very much involved with the "social gospel" and do NOT want to talk about having convictions, and biblical ones at that. They ordain women, and the pastor told me to stop studying theology because it would drive me crazy.

When my kids loved being at their weekly meeting but could not tell me anything that they had actually learned that day - besides games and playing guitar hero (kid you not), I knew it was time to get out of there.

My prayer for you is that you find a solid biblical church very soon.

#18  Posted by Bob Colby  |  Thursday, February 06, 2014at 2:33 PM

#17 Posted by Elaine Bittencourt

I asked about the women being ordained and was told that was the Canadian CMA. see: http://www.cmacan.org/news_items/

Each country can do what is wants.

It just breaks my heart to see this happening. The library at my church is full of seeker friendly, word of faith (Joyce Myer )But have yet to find a single John MacArthur book.

I just added Strange Fire and 3 others to my own library.

Side note : it was Todd Friel's Wretched radio program that introduced me to GTY. I am forever grateful!

Just found a cessesionist church that I am in the process of looking at. But still need your prayers.

#22  Posted by Alex Kelley  |  Thursday, February 06, 2014at 3:24 PM

It is a tremendous challenge today where believers are hearing messages from every venue. One thing I have to remember is that this is spiritual warfare. The enemy has been using his deceptive tactics from the beginning. I find that much of what trips up believers is in the "adding" to the Scriptures, which in essence is replacing it. Subtlety is often what I have had to contend with in regards to being a part of a particular church. The belief that God continues to speak seems to be a very big teaching in what is called the "Renovare" movement. The Scriptures are only a part of how communicates according this teaching. They actually teach that silence and solitude are as important as Bible reading. Much of what is emphasized is the "experience" you are having as Christ "continues" to speak you. One aspect of the ministry seems to be biblical and yet what is taught among certain studies in the church focuses on "experience". The only source of truth is God's Word and the enemy continues to seek to twist and undermine this in the life of the church. We truly need leaders that hold to God's only source of revelation, the Bible. Thank you all at GTY for doing just that.

#23  Posted by Jeremiah Johnson  |  Thursday, February 06, 2014at 3:32 PM

Before this discussion strays too far off-topic, let's all agree to not use this comment thread to air grievances with various denominations, swap stories about which famous pastor said what, or lob accusations and doubts about the discernment of other Bible teachers and their ministries. We ought to be able to have a biblical discussion regarding these issues without floating every theory, rumor, and anecdote about _______.

Thanks!

#24  Posted by Shane Haffey  |  Thursday, February 06, 2014at 6:22 PM

“If we researched & criticised all the crooks, cons, and cookies in the Charismatic Movement we’d have no time for anything else.”

Perhaps moderate continuationists would have more time to heed the command to rebuke heresy if they weren't mis appropriating that time attempting to resurrect apostolic gifts.

#29  Posted by Jay David  |  Thursday, February 06, 2014at 10:32 PM

I have the up-most respect for Grace to You, the staff, and Pastor-Teacher John MacArthur. His teachings through God have changed my life and mind, heart, and soul...And continues to do so. Amen!

Where do we draw the line in any denomination saying "your wrong here?" or "your wrong there?" As I said, I know the Pentecostal denomination is, I don't know how else to put this, the worst at confusion, distorting, and spiritually misguiding everyone into believing their way or the highway. You have the Pentecostal denomination watering down, and many other denominations (including Baptist), no wonder so many people are lost and confused, all the while they are saved, but are being led astray by false or misguided teaching.

#30  Posted by Russell Aubrey  |  Thursday, February 06, 2014at 10:44 PM

I tend to view it like Charles Spurgeon did: likening these folks to individuals who, "I hope they were insane," or, "There has not for some years passed over my head a singe week in which I have not been pestered with the revelations of hypocrites or maniacs." At another time he refers to them as, "Semi-lunatics." Page 258 of Strange Fire.

Really, when a dog is a dog, you call him a dog. Hinn is very likely insane. He's forfeiting his soul for a few earthly bucks. Come on, that's insane. Right?

#31  Posted by Chuck Shanks  |  Friday, February 07, 2014at 6:51 AM

the whole country seems to want entitlements, why not the church.

#32  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Friday, February 07, 2014at 9:50 AM

Raymond writes,

there seem to be an Informal fallacy here, namely, (a) The charismatic movements has false teachers.

That man over there is an charismatic.

That man over there is a false teacher.

I am not sure if I follow your syllogism. I guess you mean to say "that" man is supposed to be charismatic=false teacher?

The reality is that the broader charismatic movement IS rife with false teaching, "speaking in tongues equates true salvation," "generational curses," "deliverance ministries," "demons can infest inanimate objects," "no healing means person lacked true faith," etc.

Continuationists who insist that the spiritual gifts are for Christians today, yet otherwise may not practice those false teachings, do lend legitimacy to those other charismatics who practice such things. This is especially true when such individuals like Grudem attempt to put an academic face on certain charismatic practices.

Continuing,

Further, causal connection between continuationism and false teachers may exists, but evidence and an argument are needed to establish a causal connection.

And I think this post does show such a connection. Brown claims to be a sound Pentecostal who is grieved by manipulative huckster evangelists like Hinn, yet he readily buddies up with Hinn, even now saying he has yet to see any "evidence" that Hinn teaches falsely.

All this article does is tell a story of one guy doing his one thing with a false teacher.

It is illustrative of the reality that continuationist theology provides no sure ability to properly discern why one guy is a false teacher, while another one allegedly is not.

Continuationsist are brothers in Christ with real exegetical reasons for their position, and against the man arguments, and Bifurcation should stop.

No one here has claimed continuationists are not brothers in Christ. The problem is that their theology, in spite of what so-called "real exegetical reasons" you may think they have for their views, ultimately provides cover to such men like Hinn. Brown, who says he deplores such false teachers, has now readily embraced the worst of the lot. What prevents other continuationists from doing so also?

#33  Posted by Jay David  |  Friday, February 07, 2014at 10:56 PM

Good evening! Well, last night I had posted a lengthy post commenting on the blog. As it turns out, thanks to one of the GTY staff members, they were gracious enough to e-mail me and say that they would be more than happy to edit my lengthy post, per my consent. I replied with gratitude and told the GTY staff member that they could do that and I think they will edit my post to make it come across more understable for everyone, since my thoughts were getting a bit carried away last night. Anyway, I took a little advice from the staff member and I will keep the comment simple tonight. In that regard, people that see this and than my edited post from the last night, might be able to piece together what I was/am trying to gather together on the subject of this blog. Over the course of the weekend, people than can see this and hopefully the edited post, and respond/comment accordingly.

Okay, just one (maybe two) pretty straight-forward questions for tonight.

~ In all the denominational and non-denominational churches we have in the U.S.A., WHERE does one draw the biblical line for and in every denominational and non-denominational churches in America? Better put - HOW does one draw the biblical line for and in every denominational and non-denominational churches in America? My gist here is all denominational and non-denominational churches in America have their own set of beliefs that defer a little from one another. Because of that, I see (in some cases, a lot - i.e., in the Pentecostal denomination/movement) friction/dissension that causes a trickling-down effect from one said denomination to the next. The trickling-down effect seems than to cause all, (or most), denominations to sort of have this pious, negative attitude that catapults back and forth into each denominational and non-denominational church. I put MOST in parenthesis because I don't believe ALL churches are that way, but I believe most are turning out to be that way. Before one jumps to conclusions with what I have just typed, let me back up for a moment. I understand the blog is particularly about the Pentecostal denomination/movement and the controversies/tragedies over the years that the denomination has caused in harming hundreds of thousands of people into believing their false teachings and fake prosperity healings. I also understand why Pastor John MacArthur chose to narrow-down and pin-point this denomination, for what it really is. That's why the Strange Fire Conference took place and what a privilege it was for Pastor MacArthur and the GTY staff to allow us all to download and listen to the conference for FREE! Now, with that out of the way the point I am making is NOT all Pentecostal churches are as extreme as portrayed in the conference, but that does not negate the fact that it is slowly killing the other denominational churches from ministering properly and effectively preaching in their church, thus causing a trickling-down effect that I

#34  Posted by Jay David  |  Friday, February 07, 2014at 11:52 PM

mentioned earlier. Because of this trickling-down effect and what it is doing to other denominational and non-denominational churches is absurd to say the least. The youth are vulnerable to their almost cult-like endeavors. Luring young (and old) to hypnotic, trance-like music, "speaking-in-tongues" psycho-babbling , fake (demonic) supernatural healings, etc...The list goes on. I have been in some of them, though not as extreme. Nonetheless, it is still (I believe) a crafty, luring draw orchestrated from Satan and his demonic realm these things I mentioned that goes on in SOME of the Pentecostal churches.

Let's go back to the questions I had. WHERE and HOW does one draw the line biblically from this denominational church to the next denominational church. It's almost easy to say "WHERE?" That would be the infallible Word of God. Sounds easy, right? Not so much for the ones stuck, been raised, or lured into that denominational church.

As for the other denominational churches, it is by far not as severe to say they are being lied to, or being falsely preached to. Sad to say this, not all, but MOST are not too far behind the Pentecostal denominations ways of seducing people to join their church/denomination. Again, my main is NOT so much WHERE do we draw the line biblically, but HOW? I know the world is changing, and my prayers are always hope-filled and prayerful that God will raise us up as a nation that would be honoring and bring abundant grace and mercy to this great country, in fear and reverence of Him. We need a drastic change of hearts in all denominations to come together and preach the Word of God as it is supposed to be preached. That's my answer to the "HOW?"

I am going to close with that. I hope people understand and can respond accordingly and we can have a good discussion on not so much WHERE, but HOW do we draw the line biblically so that all denominational and non-denominational churches can come to one accord here in the U.S.A...I say the United States, because I am talking denominational churches of the somewhat same doctrinal CHRISTIAN faith/beliefs of salvation, baptism, etc...Pentecostal's believe in salvation & baptism, as well as many other denomination's. Salvation in all denomination's (and baptism) should be enough to please God and bring Him glory, but I just don't see that in many churches today. I see a lot of confusion and distortion/twisting of the Word of God (The Holy Bible), that it is know wonder so many people stay away from the faith or are so confused even within their own denomination.

Main point and question: Where & How do we draw the line biblically across all denominations so that we can somehow make the way not so difficult and frustrating as different denominations seem to be making it?

#36  Posted by Raymond Kolman  |  Saturday, February 08, 2014at 8:16 AM

Fred stated,

"It is illustrative of the reality that continuationist theology provides no sure ability to properly discern why one guy is a false teacher, while another one allegedly is not."

Fred my former statements still stand, you have not provided any evidence against those statements. However what you did do in the above comment is express the direction this whole thing seems to be heading. Continuationists do have discernment, and not any less than a cessationist, yet you claim continuationists do not. Second, it appears you mark Brown as a false teacher from the context you responded to, if this is true, I again would state, Continuationsist are brothers in Christ with real exegetical reasons for their position, and against the man arguments, and Bifurcation should stop.

Yes, false teaching is in the charismatic movement, yet what does that have to do with believing, from scripture, that gifts have continued, that speaking in tongues/prophecy have not ceased? I do neither, but I do not put bad names/images on those who do, like the bad image of charismatic heresy as you did. One can be a continuationsist and not involved in the charismatic movement whatsoever. This is the type of broad brush I think BROTHERS in Christ are complaining about.

The message seems to be: conform to the cessationst interpretation or, be pictured with false teachers.

#37  Posted by Jeremiah Johnson  |  Saturday, February 08, 2014at 1:41 PM

Raymond,

No one has to picture Michael Brown with Benny Hinn; he joined him on stage as a ministry partner, lending Hinn all sorts of illegitimate credibility in the process. We're not making it up--you can watch the videos for yourself if you like.

And while I don't disagree that our continuationist friends do possess discernment, it can't be used selectively. True discernment doesn't have an on/off switch. And partnering with false teachers isn't the way to prove that it's working.

#39  Posted by Matthew Wilson  |  Tuesday, February 11, 2014at 11:28 AM

Spotting and confronting blatant false teachers and doctrinal error seems to be the easy task-at-hand in our era. The more difficult task is appropriately and effectively spotting and confronting subtle practices and teachings that creep into our evangelical congregations. Not only has the "don't judge least ye be judged" culture permeated modern churches, all confrontation is often restricted to the pastoral responsibility alone. The layperson is condemned as stirring up division among the body of Christ. Is the confrontation of error "out of bounds" to the layperson? Or, is everyone accountable to speak up in an appropriate manner?

#40  Posted by Jay David  |  Wednesday, February 12, 2014at 12:32 AM

The basic Truth is God (His Word - John 1:1), His unique Son - Jesus Christ, and His Holy Spirit. So simple, but people make it so difficult. Out of pride that began in the angelic realm with the fallen angel Lucifer (The Morning Star), his narcissism and self-gratifying attitude threw him down from the heavens along with a third of the other angelic beings, who were then (and still are) bound in chains and darkness until the around the Great Final Judgement (refer to Revelation 20:7-14). My point, even God gave angel's free-will to choose. Why? Because He wants ALL, even the angel's, to have free-will to CHOOSE and not be like robots serving Him like ROBOTS. He wants us to willingly serve Him, as so with the angelic realm.

Benny Hinn, Rodney Howard Browne, Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, etc...Have sold their souls for the LOVE of MONEY! "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs." (I Timothy 6:10, ESV).

Is it really than that difficult than to know what they are doing? Satan and the demonic realm know the Scriptures and tremble. "You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe and shudder!" (James 2:19, ESV)

These heretics know the Truth, but are CHOOSING to sell their souls for MONEY.

I compare that comment in contrast to what Judas Iscariot did to Jesus by selling Him over to the chief priests for blood money (30 pieces of silver to purchase Potter's field). He knew the Truth, but for the LOVE of MONEY, he sold his very soul. He was remorseful, but in an unforgiving way. Over his guilty conscience, he hung himself and his bodily entrails exploded. Reminds me of the book 'Pilgrim's Progress' where Christian feels like his insides are going to explode because of sin.

Point is, these false prophets know what they are doing and basically are selling their souls at any cost, simply for the LOVE of MONEY... NOT GOD/JESUS/THE HOLY SPIRIT! What a shame to see these heretics damning their own souls and all the people that are being led astray by their false preachings! May God rescue them and everyone involved in such movements. I pray in Jesus Name, Amen.

Thank you, Grace to You and Pastor John MacArthur for preaching the Word of God how it is supposed to be, not out of for the LOVE of MONEY, but for the LOVE of TRUTH and for EVERYONE to come to the saving knowledge of the one and only LIVING GOD...God bless you all and your ministry!

#41  Posted by Bob Colby  |  Wednesday, February 12, 2014at 11:47 AM

#17 Posted by Elaine Bittencourt

"My prayer for you is that you find a solid biblical church very soon."

Just talk to Pastor of church I was looking at and after about 5

minutes I asked him what he thought of Pastor John MacArthur. Pastor said "John MacArthur!, I have his entire NT commentaries and just was listening to the "Strange Fire" conference sessions by him. What else is there to say!

GTY is impacting the church with the truth. Thank you all.

#42  Posted by John Cox  |  Wednesday, February 12, 2014at 6:08 PM

It's interesting reading here how so many folks don't seem to understand just how serious this issue should be... ESPECIALLY to Continuationalists...

In fact - to a true Continuationalist - the call is even MORE urgent perhaps than you realize. ... God loves us.. He IS trying to help guide us... and this may include revealing important things to the Faithful - but... Here we are - ENCOURAGING the clogging up the "Bandwidth" up with Hubris, Pride, and DECEPTION... Allowing all the Blather and Lies to clobber up and overwhelm the True Word of God....

And Even Worse - knowing our Enemy - WE SHOULD expect increasingly MORE of the "Bandwidth" to be clogged up with Deception Specifically When GOD is doing Important things. Think of Micah the prophet's vision.... Lying spirits going out specifically to distract the TRUE message to prevent Repentance.. and so the King wouldn't listen to His message in the face of all the other prophets prophesying good things about the king.....

Then - we don't want to hurt feelings... We are so worried about turning away "Sinners" or loosing some money on offerings that we don't turn away Wolves.... we just bring them in with open arms.. "Oh.. It's harmless"..... then act so surprised when Wolves do what Wolves do.... Understand that we WERE NOT called to be squishy, mushy, accommodating LUMPS...

No... Stand Up Church! Test the Spirits - Purge out those who preach false messages and practice Lying signs so that we MIGHT BE ABLE TO HEAR the True message of God! Learn to Hear the Shepherd's voice... Learn HOW to discern and Reject all the others..

#43  Posted by Lm Gunhouse  |  Wednesday, February 12, 2014at 8:03 PM

Hello. I am quite interested in this topic and have been following it for over a year now. I have been a listener of GTY for many years and have always appreciated the majority of John MacArthur's solid teachings. I do have some misgivings on "Strange Fire," however, and I am a little surprised at this one. I hope I am allowed to share my thoughts, and I won't share everything in this one post (both observations and questions). But I would, respectfully, like to share one of my observations.

Please note: The first comment was too long, so it will appear in two parts.

The most troublesome question I have is that is it Biblically right to name whole world-wide denominations like the Charismatics and Pentecostals for seeming to be scripturally incorrect if there is no solid proof that "every single" church and every single person attending one is off-base Scripturally? What if I attended a church associated with the Pentecostals, and I witnessed none of the Scripturally incorrect goings-on that are mentioned in Strange Fire? I am from Canada, and so far, in the past several years, have never had one single issue come up that are mentioned in Strange Fire with the Pentecostal churches. In fact, they have been some of the few churches that are about as Biblically sound and traditional as you can get (they are "Pentecostal" in name only). They have also demonstrated a Christ-centered heart, are supportive, participate gladly and whole-heartedly in outreach to the congregation and the lost, and never ever force their doctrines or anything else on anyone. As a Bible scholar myself, and a Borean at heart (this is why I appreciate John MacArthur's ministry so much), I have found their teachings are quite solid and soundly Biblical, or I would never have even considered attending their churches.

PART 2 next post ...

#44  Posted by Lm Gunhouse  |  Wednesday, February 12, 2014at 8:05 PM

Part 2 of 2 (see previous post)

Perhaps Pentecostal churches are different in the US or elsewhere? Even so, I wonder if it is wise to mention these denominations, and also the individuals associated with them, in a way that feels almost offensive? Is this the Biblically correct way to deal with it, or is it divisive for those individuals attending these churches who are sincere? I am thinking of the following passages of Scripture:

Jas 4:11    Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.Jas 4:12    There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?

Jas 3:2    For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.

2Co 6:3    Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:2Co 6:4    But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,

I understand the heart and reasons behind Strange Fire. I just wonder if it could have been handled in such a way that would not seem so divisive. I would shudder to think that non-Christians who could be reading, watching and listening may be turned off by Christianity because of the way in which this topic is presented. Or perhaps some reading this have been saved or greatly helped through one or more of the individuals/ministries mentioned in Strange Fire as being false and of the devil. Would it be right to offend them? Any insights would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for letting me share.

#46  Posted by Jeremiah Johnson  |  Thursday, February 13, 2014at 10:50 AM

LM,

Please let me refer you to a couple resources that might help answer the questions you posed.

First is this short video, titled "John MacArthur's Encouragement to Faithful Pentecostals." In it, John acknowledges the very point you made--that there are faithful men and women within the movement who truly love the Lord and His Word, and who have no part in the excesses and aberrations that Strange Fire addresses. He also calls on them to be part of the solution by speaking out and eliminating the safe harbor the movement has historically provided for charlatans, thieves, and liars.

In fact, John has been sympathetic to faithful believers in the charismatic movement from the very beginning. In the first video blog for the Strange Fire conference, he recognized that people are coming to know the Lord in charismatic churches, but that the rampant error and corruption in the movement makes it very hard for them to grow spiritually. His point is that the truth of God's Word must dominate in order for His people to grow.

As for the potentially divisive nature of Strange Fire, I think John said it best during the conference:

We have also been accused of being divisive. I would agree with that. Truth by its very nature is divisive. That’s why Jesus said "I came to bring a sword," to divide people, divide families. Truth by very nature is separated by error and it is far more important to be divided by the truth than united by error. I understand that truth is divisive.

That message was called "An Appeal to Charismatic Friends" and you can listen to it here. In it, John answers many of the major criticisms of the conference, and further explains why it was necessary. As he's often said, the most loving thing you can do for someone is tell them the truth. You might ruffle some feathers and step on some toes, but it's far more unloving to leave them in living darkness and error.

#47  Posted by John Pietroski  |  Saturday, February 15, 2014at 8:33 AM

Hello. I Hope everything is going well TODAY for everyone.

I am getting & going & seeking out & having the most fantastic healing.....RIGHT NOW !!!

I am WITNESSING something I have NEVER SEEN at the level I've seen form THIS BLOG!

I made a comment,and after carefully and quietly observing within the Buccal Shelf of the internet-I am still held within this one truth that Christ's Love is ALL together sufficient in it's working a mighty.mighty work in and thru all who would just simply STOP and smell the coffee.

I have NEVER ,at least for now;been given an opportunity to TALK,WALK and MOST IMPORTANTLY grow in ways like NEVER before!

Since I have WATCHED every session of the "STRANGE FIRE CONFERENCE". I have learned to CONTROL MY ANGER and become more HUMBLE!

Thank you, Mr. MacArthur for what I'd call a surgically sincere message THAT I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO HEAR. I applaud you for your devotion and DILIGENT study. I HOPE I NEVER GET OVER IT!!!

#48  Posted by Thomas Bridges  |  Saturday, February 15, 2014at 9:24 AM

It's unfortunate that cessationism vs continationism has obscured the true danger of the word/faith movement. This has actually played right into the hands of such as Benny Hinn.

How? Hinn cries out 'brothers, I am on trial for being a continuationalist!'. And what happens? True believers such as Dr. Michael Brown come running to his aid, abandoning discernment to circle the Charismatic wagons.

With this Hinn wins in two ways.

First, the true danger of His teaching is obscured.

Second, he is legitimized by such as Dr. Brown instead of being disassociated by him (which would have caused severe damage to the word/faith movement).

What is this true danger which cessationalists have moved to the back burner?

Hinn and the like preach exactly what the world wants to hear. That man can love this world and love God at the same time. The exact thing Christ warned against. That man can have salvation on his terms. That Jesus will follow men on man's path (blessing them with all this world has to offer), instead of requiring men to follow Him on His path.

Hinn must be laughing right now.