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A Mess in the Maternity Ward?

Thursday, July 25, 2013 | Comments (48)

Fred Butler
Volunteer Ministries Coordinator

Leveling Charges Against John MacArthur

Popular theologian and apologist Dr. Michael Brown has written two articles for Charismanews critical of John MacArthur and the upcoming Strange Fire conference. 

In his first article, ”John MacArthur, Strange Fire and Blasphemy of the Spirit”, Dr. Brown says John has “seriously overstepped his bounds and misused the Word of God” by wrongly accusing charismatic leaders of “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.”  He further claims John is guilty of a double standard.  Specifically, Brown says that while John calls on charismatic leaders to denounce the extremes within their movement, John does not call on noncharismatic pastors to denounce dangerous “once saved, always saved” doctrine.

Brown’s second article, An Appeal to John MacArthur to Embrace God’s True Fire, takes issue with John’s criticisms of the famed Brownsville Revival that took place from 1995–2000 at the Brownsville Assembly of God church in Pensacola, Florida.  Michael Brown taught at the Brownsville Assembly during that time and denies that the movement was a “mindless, emotional orgy marked by irrational, sensual, and fleshly behavior” (John MacArthur’s description). Brown says he can “testify to the fact that day after day, Jesus was exalted, the Scriptures were preached, and sinners were called to repentance and believers were encouraged to surrender their lives afresh to God.”

He goes on to write, “It is only natural that when God moves powerfully, there will be excesses that need to be corrected and abuses that need to be put in order. . . . But I, for one, would rather have the noise (and mess) of the maternity ward than the deathly quiet of a cemetery.” He concludes his article with an appeal to John to not put out the Spirit’s true fire and, therefore, quench God’s mighty work among Christians throughout the world.

Those are a couple of strong appeals coming from a well-respected Christian apologist.  Personally, I have benefited from Dr. Brown’s ministry.  He has, for example, written an outstanding five-volume work that answers the Jewish objections to Jesus Christ and Christianity.  Those books are not only an excellent study on the subject of messianic prophecy, they are also a worthy investment for anyone interested in evangelizing Jews.  Moreover, I am thankful for Brown’s unwavering boldness to engage present-day attacks on biblical morality–especially the rising tide of homosexual activism.

However, 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.”

Cleaning Up the Mess

I am grateful that Michael Brown acknowledges John’s strong convictions on the lordship of Christ. But that’s precisely what makes the charge of double standard so far-fetched. The implication is that John MacArthur has quietly looked the other way when people use “once saved, always saved” as a prop for false assurance. The reality is, no one has been more vocal against easy-believism than John MacArthur. 

I’ve heard Brown say on one of his radio programs that he has written against the extremes within the charismatic movement. It’s hard to find evidence of that in the material he has posted online. Whatever Brown has written on those issues, I doubt that its quantity and potency approaches that of John MacArthur’s critiques of easy-believism.

John wrote two extensive bestselling books on the subject: The Gospel According to Jesus, and a follow-up, The Gospel According to the Apostles. In fact, John has decried easy-believism in virtually every major book he has ever published, and he has consistently warned against the false assurance of people who profess conversion but live like unbelievers. The lordship of Christ and the folly of so-called carnal Christianity have been the dominant themes of his ministry for more than three decades. 

Just search the Grace to You archives and you’ll find dozens of sermons John has preached over the years addressing and correcting the very error of non-lordship that Brown says is embraced by many of the noncharismatic pastors who follow John MacArthur. I find it perplexing that Brown would even raise this as an example of a double standard on John’s part.  To borrow from Dr. Brown’s analogy, the hallmark of John MacArthur’s ministry has been to clean up the evangelical maternity ward.

Genuine Spiritual Babies?

Yet what I find most alarming is how heedlessly Brown embraces charismatics who have made a career out of promoting false prophecies and grievous theological errors.  Let me note a couple of examples. 

In his first article, Dr. Brown chastises John for singling out Mike Bickle and Lou Engle, two men Brown describes as “godly leaders.” Both Bickle and Engle are prominent figures in the New Apostolic Reformation, a movement founded by C. Peter Wagner. Wagner himself is known for making grandiose prophetic decrees like the one he made in June 2006, in which he declared that all the wealth of the wicked would be released and transferred to God’s chosen people. (I personally haven’t seen any of that “transferred wealth” yet.)

Both Bickle and Engle were originally associated with the Kansas City prophets, a group of ministers who have been issuing false prophecies for years. They freely admit that a high percentage of their own visions, dreams, and declarations regarding future events have been in error.

Additionally, two of the original Kansas City prophets, Paul Cain and Bob Jones, were later discredited for scandalously immoral secret lives–Cain for alcoholism and homosexuality, and Jones for sexual impurity. Incidentally, Jones was a spiritual mentor to Todd Bentley, the Lakeland, Florida, evangelist who boasts of healing people with a mixed-martial-arts-style smack down.

Is the partnership between all those men inconsequential and unrelated? I don’t think so. Perhaps Michael Brown would single out Paul Cain and Bob Jones as representing the abuses and excesses that need to be corrected when God sends revival. Yet, both of those men “ministered” for years among the other so-called Kansas City prophets, making false prophecies along with Bickle and Engle, who both praised their personal lives for exemplifying holiness. Where is the discernment here among God’s alleged prophets? Are false prophecies and bad doctrine evidence of the new birth? The Cain-Jones-Bickle-Engle cadre give no evidence that any true babies are being born in that maternity ward.

But the most alarming affirmation Dr. Brown gives to his fellow charismatic leaders is his praise of Cindy Jacobs, a self-described prophet to the nations. On his Facebook page, Brown responded to someone who had offered a critical review of his first Charismanews article against John MacArthur. In Brown’s response, he writes, in passing, these favorable remarks about Jacobs: “As to your reference to Cindy Jacobs (also a friend of mine with a real love for the Lord), I have no idea where that came from.”

My point isn’t to quibble about Brown’s friendship with Cindy Jacobs or his claim about her “love for the Lord,” but in light of what she teaches, his endorsement is hard to justify.

Consider this 10-minute video from her ministry in which she tells her audience that the world is stalked by a spirit named Leviathan. She first claims God gave her this teaching about Leviathan, then proceeds to allegorize Job 41 to build her case. 

Jacobs goes on to say that Leviathan is the source of all kinds of strife: divorce, tribal wars, church splits, family feuds, and sibling rivalries. This spirit is particularly active among cultures that worship snakes and crocodiles. In fact, if you are of Native American or Mexican heritage, you are especially susceptible to the influence of the Leviathan spirit and may need to repent of your ancestral animism.  

Why would people of Native American ancestry need to repent of pagan sins in which they never participated? Is that another example of what Brown means when he says there are “excesses” that need to be corrected?

Jacobs’s “Leviathan” teaching would be bad enough, but in this video she claims to have fed 3,000 people at a Colorado Springs crusade using just two loaves of bread–the way Jesus fed the 5,000 in John 6:1–14. Her claim to having the same divine attributes of creation that Jesus has is utterly preposterous—and blasphemous. Since Cindy Jacobs is a leader among charismatics, not simply a zealous new convert who needs to be corrected, is Dr. Brown prepared to confront his good friend about her lying blasphemy? We have to wonder what Brown sees in Jacobs’s maternity ward. Are there really any babies being born there?

Babies in the Bathwater

There are many other examples I could mention among charismatic personalities, and John MacArthur is right to identify their antics as blaspheming the Holy Spirit.  Sadly, it seems that to Dr. Brown pragmatic, “positive” results (i.e., millions of gullible followers worldwide) justify any means to achieve them—including unbiblical teaching and ungodly shenanigans from leaders who clearly are not biblically qualified to hold the positions they do. Paul wrote to Titus:

In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us. (Titus 2:7–8)

If Michael Brown believes false teaching is merely the “mess of the maternity ward”; if he really thinks the culprits are just a few overly excitable individuals who are guilty of slight “excess”; if he truly believes the majority of leading figures in the charismatic movement are innocent of blaspheming or misrepresenting the Holy Spirit; and if he so readily affirms the ministries and teaching of people who regularly issue false prophecies; then he is clearly not discerning.  

John MacArthur loves maternity wards, and he understands that babies make messes–sometimes really big messes. But John refuses to leave babies lying for long in that mess. He cares for them, cleaning them with the living water of God’s Word. Dr. Brown would do well to follow John’s example with regard to Bickle, Engle, and Jacobs rather than attack someone who has spent his life as a caring, faithful shepherd of the sheep.


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#1  Posted by Carla Baker  |  Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 2:41 AM

The dialog here presents a minute portion of this type of activity. The raw charismatic torrent of gathering numbers and dollars is Biblically incorrect so it does not fare well with the Almighty. I thank the Most High for men He has raised up such as Dr. MacArthur to not only shepherd so many of us who thirst after righteousness but who desire the Word of God to be taught purely. I have begun to again pray that the Lord of Heaven will raise up many such men and let their voices proclaim His truth "as a voice crying in the wilderness." Those voices cannot proclaim the truth from the scriptures and glorify our Great Redeemer if they are glorifying themselves. John MacArthur and men who love the Lord with all their heart teach us how to study scripture to "show ourselves approved." That approval must be in the form of inward and outward glory to the Lord.

I have had utmost respect for Dr. Brown in going toe to toe with Rabbi Boteach and pray that he wlll continue to spread the Good News of Yeshua to the Hebrew peoples. However, to see him hang onto such a devisive and fractious set of antics such as is espoused by charismatics, is disheartening. Furthermore, how can anyone, especially a biblical scholar derive anything but the power of the Living God to keep His own for eternity...for eternity?

Let us all pray and toil in the fields together, as one in Christ Jesus. Pray for men such as Dr. MacArthur to boldly proclaim the whole Word of the Great I Am, as it is written. The Lord doesn't want ad libbing, He wants us to worship Him in devotion, great awe, and humble adoration...from the heart.

May the Lord shine His countenance upon you forevermore. Carla Ruth Baker

#2  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 7:21 AM

Well, we are the company we keep, aren't we?

"Are there really any babies being born there?" Can't be. They are at best illegitimate babies.

We have to know that there will always be people that want to be on the Christian bandwagon and feel the need to spice it up. And all these charismatic ministries seem to be about self.....I see the "prophet" or "prophetess" as the focus, not Christ. There is so much sensationalism among that group. Did I spell it wrong? Is it SINsationalism?

Great response, Fred. Still, I'm afraid that it will fall on deft ears. You have to have the Holy Spirit for it to be that obvious, that clear. Evidence is exciting enough but doesn't make a Christian swoon or be tempted to exaggerate. We're just blown away by how penetratingly profound it all is. But Charismatics seem, to me anyway, to want the dramatics more than accuracy of scripture. My observations are, they have no Godly fear about exploiting the Holy Spirit. No fear at all. Now what does that tell us?

#3  Posted by Nancy Alvarez  |  Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 9:03 AM

John MacArthur's teaching of the scriptures is filled with vitamins and minerals for the soul. Only people that belong to the living God will desire to know the truth. The Lord has directed many a new believer into the light of Pastor John's teaching. I am one of those people and the milk is sweet and the meat always fresh! God's Holy Spirit bears witness with my spirit that he teaches truth. I am always concerned when people I witness to don't care for his teaching.

My heart is sad for the people that throw rocks. Open their eyes Lord.

#5  Posted by Dave Ulrick  |  Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 11:14 AM

As an ex-Charismatic, I am persuaded that it is good and right to warn against charismatic practices and teaching for many reasons, but one of the biggest errors is the notion of a faillible gift of prophecy. We are told that the so-called Kansas City prophets were among the greatest of modern-day prophets, but yet by the admission of their proponents they were wrong much of the time. To put it another way, it's to be expected that a prophet may say "thus says the Lord" while uttering a mixture of truth and error. Far from prophecy being a gift that's continuing to operate in the same manner since the Apostles, we are to believe that at some point the very nature of the gift transitioned from inerrancy to a mixture of truth and error.

According to the Mosaic Law, a prophet who erred even once was subject to capital punishment. If, as the charismatics claim, New Testament prophecy is subject to error, where do we find the Scriptures that (a) tell us that prophets are no longer required to be inerrant and (b) how we are to evaluate semi-inspired prophecies to discern what we're supposed to obey and what we ought to shun? Remember that we must ALWAYS obey what God has commanded as well as ALWAYS shun any word that claims to be from God but in fact is not. So with NT prophecy we're supposed to sift out the true from the false, but how are we to do this? It's not enough to say, "compare it with Scripture", because then what do we say if a prophet tells us to move to this city or marry this person? If the prophet had a track record of 100% inerrancy we'd know exactly what to do--obey--but if he's, say, 80% right and 20% wrong, how do we know whether to obey?

Attempts have been made to show that NT prophets such as Agabus were not inerrant, but I've yet to see any satisfactory Scriptural exegesis that supports the alleged mega-shift from inerrant OT to errant NT prophecy. Speaking of Agabus, a careful reading of his prophecies and their fulfillment in Acts shows that he was in fact inerrant just like an OT prophet.

Until it can be demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt from Scripture that fallible prophecy--a mixture of truth and error--spoken in the name of God is to be expected and welcomed, Pastor MacArthur is 100% right to speak out against this false teaching that has harmed so many including this ex-Charismatic.


#6  Posted by Patrick Driscoll  |  Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 11:28 AM

Thank the Lord for GTY and thank you Fred for bringing these things

out into the open. I watched the 10 minute video .... 10 minutes of

torture .... Major league scripture twisting .... Poor Job would be

turning in his grave if he knew about this.

#7  Posted by Suzanne Tromburg  |  Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 11:52 AM

Thanks for putting this together so clearly, and including the sound contributions Dr. Brown has made to Christiandom.

The million dollar question to me at least, is how is it that such broadly and highly respected, doctrinally sound leaders can otherwise completely miss the mark on issues so critical to the Church at large? Particularly when it comes to extending the hand of fellowship and so affirming credibility to those who ought to be avoided? Even inviting them on to their pulpits, conferences, or 'public conversations'. It is as if one hand is blind to the other..the disconnect can be startling. What is a new or less learned believer to do with all this?

Most importantly, what is God doing in this?

I know this much: He IS at work here..because He is faithful and good and His Word is true. The splintering we've seen in Christiandom (as well as beyond charasmata) with its resulting confusion amongst the sheep, God will use and is now using in accomplishing all His will.

I know that throughout the centuries from the 1st He has given men (and women) to the Church who will stand up for every spec of the Truth against anything opposing it. I am so thankful for this and for the ministry of John MacArthur et all.

We need to be fervently praying for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace in the Church; for wisdom and discernment in our own churches and especially for our own pastors..especially pray for our local pastors......

"...with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 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 4:2-6)

#9  Posted by Brad Kennedy  |  Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Well written article Fred. I am thankful you defend the dignity of John, as I am sure it is out of a deep love for him as so many of us have the same affection.

It saddens me though, or at least confuses me, as how you give hearty approbation to the works of someone in whom "fresh water and salt water both come forth". I have not read of any of Brown's writings but I did watch (what I could bear), the blasphemous ministry that took place in Pensacola between 1995 and 2000 through televised broadcasts. And John MacArthur speaks graciously in describing a fleeting movement that proved to be a fleecing of sheep (or goats maybe)?

I am astounded that anyone who is a born again follower of Christ, (no matter how immature or in Brown's case "mature"), could be associated with such abhorrent defiance to the work of our Lord Jesus without exposing it. Granted, what went on in Pensacola may not be as bizarre as the snake oil Cindy Jacobs is peddling, but what went on in Brownsville spawns that type of work. Are not the minds of such false teachers perverted? They claim to know God but by their works deny Him.

I have read enough of what you have written Fred to be confident your speech is as gracious as the words you write. I just can't understand how someone can be involved in a blasphemous ministry for a time and write commentaries that one can benefit from to help equip him to share the gospel with non-believing Jews.

Clearly, you need not defend your writing, but I would appreciate it if you could expound on your comment to ease my perplexity; if you deem the request worthy of a response.

I am thankful for you and GTY and the ministry of John MacArthur and am in debt to all of you beyond measure for your diligent labor and love for the brethren but that one statement in the blog unsettles me.

Please be gentle if you respond to my thread as I fear it may be received as lacking discernment, critical, or obtuse. To know that I have offended you would crush me more than living with the perplexity that one might benefit from something someone with the reputation of Brown has penned.

#10  Posted by Terrence Daugherty  |  Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 11:51 PM

Does anyone else find it odd that, false prophet, Cindy Jacobs, teaches about the existence and power of a "spirit" called "Leviathan"? Anton LaVey wrote his "Satanic Bible" in 1969, prior to her ministry, in which he devoted an entire portion of his book to this "spirit" named "Leviathan". I am wondering if Cindy Jacobs learned that from LaVey's teachings. Obviously the Bible speaks of A leviathan (Job 41), but contextually, it is not a demon spirit named "Leviathan". She definitely did not get this from the Holy Bible.

#11  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Friday, July 26, 2013 at 6:08 AM

Brad #9 writes,

It saddens me though, or at least confuses me, as how you give hearty approbation to the works of someone in whom "fresh water and salt water both come forth". I have not read of any of Brown's writings but I did watch (what I could bear), the blasphemous ministry that took place in Pensacola between 1995 and 2000 through televised broadcasts.

Brad, I understand your consternation. It is odd that Dr. Brown could be an excellent scholar in a couple of particular areas, yet in my opinion, so out in left field with his support of who I would consider spiritually dangerous individuals.

With that said, it is only fair for me to recognize Dr. Brown's valuable contribution in his work answering Jewish objections to Jesus and his standing firm against the rising tide of homosexual activism in our society. In those two areas, I personally have benefited from him.

Just know that he doesn't go into charismatic issues with those works and it is as you note, just a matter of exercising careful discernment with what you read from him.

#12  Posted by Brad Kennedy  |  Friday, July 26, 2013 at 6:16 AM

Thank you Fred.

#13  Posted by Dave Ulrick  |  Friday, July 26, 2013 at 6:44 AM

How can an intelligent person, someone who's sound in many ways, fall for aberrations such as the so-called Pensacola revival? In my case, I started out simply by checking out the experience: visiting "revival meetings" where extraordinary happenings were occurring. Having dipped my toe in the spiritual waters, I tasted enough of the excitement of what was going on, albeit not without a degree of inner doubt, that I sought Scriptural endorsement for what I'd experienced. I think that's where the cycle began: more experience to recreate the initial excitement and more striving to find validation for the experience. For me, I became extremely zealous in my defense of the experiences. If you dared to question the phenomenon I'd been experiencing, I'd slip into a "Holy Ghost preacher" mode, going so far as to warn you about the danger of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. This is not to say that I went totally off the rails in every area of life, though: all along I retained my ability to think rationally especially while working in my job in information technology.

So, it's no surprise to me that intelligent folks such as Michael Brown can be so zealous in defending such practices. They are so spiritually intoxicating yet so uncertain that one can't help but defend them with all the strength one can muster. However, the cycle can be broken. In my case, I went through years of spiritual dryness and disappointment before God finally broke me of my love affair with charismatic experience and led me to a solid non-charismatic church.

My advice to those who are curious about charismatic experiences: unless you are exceedingly well-grounded in the Scriptures, don't run the risk of checking it out! If you do, you'll taste such an intoxicating blend of truth and error that you might find yourself powerfully drawn to it even in spite of your doubts. If my case is at all typical, people become charismatics because they were persuaded by experience. It's only afterwards that they try to find Scriptural validation.


#14  Posted by Suzanne Tromburg  |  Friday, July 26, 2013 at 8:30 AM

You bring up a salient 'bigger picture' point, Terrence (#10). With that and the other strange similarities between the occult/new-ageism and counterfeit "Christian" ministries I've run across, I am starkly reminded of "the spirit of the antichrist" and "the spirit now at work in the sons of disobedience". Like a same-thread running throughout the world, seeking and devouring by any means possible.

The occultism of LaVey (ala Aleister Crowley) is among the most blatant and hideous, but that same enemy of our souls, that same spirit at work there is also supplanted within the "church"..rather neatly wrapped and not so blatant. So it seems plausible Cindy Jacob's may have never heard of LaVey's book or at least knew about his Leviathan.

#15  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Friday, July 26, 2013 at 9:45 AM

#13, Dave Ulrick. I will save your comment for future reference. Really helpful testimony. Thanks for posting it.

#16  Posted by Caleb Snyder  |  Friday, July 26, 2013 at 11:07 AM

As an 18 year old who has much to learn, many may look down on what I have to say, or write it off for lack of "life-experience" or years to develop wisdom and discernment. I write neither to defend Dr. Brown, nor to defend Dr. MacArthur. Both are men who clearly love the Lord. I write simply to say this. I was born the child of a Lutheran and a Southern Baptist, and for the first 10 years of my life, attended a United Methodist church. We have since attended assorted Baptist and non-denominational "Spirit-filled" churches. And in all of my journeys from church to church, I have come to the conclusion that is this: wherever you go, you find people who love Jesus. Each and every church I have attended has been made up both of dogmatic doctrinalists and apathetic seat-warmers. Thus is the state of the Church at large in the world today. And the more I see and the more churches I attend, the more I am saddened by what used to be such a beautiful bride of Christ. I believe myself to be somewhere in the middle of where both sides are on this argument, and take great offense that "charismatics" are written off as a whole, when I don't consider myself a charismatic crazy at all. But I sure do love Jesus. And then on the other side, I see "charismatics" insult "fundamentalists" for their lack of "Spirit-leading", when I believe that we must also be careful to discern what is the Spirit and what is our prideful flesh. I said all of that, to say this: we are brothers and sisters. And if we cannot agree on loving Jesus first, then the church as a whole is going to whither and die. I think that BOTH sides of this argument can agree that Jesus Christ is the only one who has all the answers. We are told by Jesus that if we "think ourselves wise, we should become as a fool." Neither side has it all right, but I do believe that both sides love Jesus and desire to FIND the right. But we all need each other. We need to be just as open to hearing the other side as we are to hearing our own belief. If we continue to dogmatically defend our own stances and listen only to ourselves, we encourage our own arrogance and pride and silence any opportunity to learn and grow. This defeats the community that we so desperately need and that the Lord Himself created. The church should be a safe place to discuss differences in thought and belief, not a chopping block to tear each other apart. The verse under the comments is Proverbs 25:15, "With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone." Do we really believe this? Then there should be no need for conferences on either side, to tear down and destroy another belief, because in holding conferences to "guard against false doctrine", you consequently shut off that dialogue. It then just becomes a "defend your view" war. I have a lot to learn, I know, and Lord willing I will learn it. I don't claim to have all the answers. But please think about these things. Much love to you all. May God bless you.

#18  Posted by Darrel Denham  |  Friday, July 26, 2013 at 1:06 PM

Fred, thanks for upholding Dr. MacArthur's integrity. However I must agree with Brad #9 in his assessment of Dr. Brown's overall integrity when it comes to doctrinal correctness. Because of Brown's tolerance, support, and encouragement of aberrant doctrine in multiple areas, he has become his own disqualifier and therefore should have no standing with those who seriously study the Word and try to be obedient to the Lord Jesus in all things. Doubtless, there are many men who will speak on behalf of Israel and Jews in general who do not hold to erroneous doctrines. As for standing against the homosexual juggernaut that is fast overcoming America, the same holds true, Dr. MacArthur being one such person.

You may find it necessary to show some sort of kindness to Dr. Brown, but keep in mind that he is a ringleader of the charismatic insult to the Holy Spirit and that in and of itself should be the final word on Dr. Brown's credibility on all matters of the Bible and the Christian life.

Thanks for your time.

#19  Posted by Adam D  |  Friday, July 26, 2013 at 3:06 PM

John & Fred: You are right to call out the false teachers in the charismatic movement.

Dr. Brown: You are right to distinguish that all Pentecostals are not charismatic/manifestation obsessed nutjobs.

Also, OSAS and easy-believism are not the same thing. OSAS is a false teaching refusing the biblical fact that you can lose your salvation. Easy-believism addresses those who were false-converts never saved in the first place.

Some refutation of the Calvinistic/Presbyterian frozen chosen doctrine would also be nice to see on the website. You are addressing one end of the pendulum with Strange Fire, next it would be nice to see the other side critiqued.

#20  Posted by Chris Terborg  |  Friday, July 26, 2013 at 3:27 PM

#16 Caleb, I am glad that you want to learn more about the Lord and what is true. If you have not read the Truth War by John MacArthur I think that will be valuable to you in learning to discern what doctrines to defend and how to defend them. John MacArthur does a great job using the scripture to teach believers how to protect ourselves and others from error that is aimed to destroy us. It really is a war.

#21  Posted by Lois Begly  |  Friday, July 26, 2013 at 8:38 PM

I'm very grateful for Mr. Butler's post of Dr. Brown's criticism of Strange Fire. It's healthy to have genuine debate when something is being examined in the church. I support the effort to help charismatics realize the error they have swallowed. As a former charismatic I appreciate loving correction from Scripture. "Charismatic Chaos" was extremely helpful to me when I was challenged to re-examine the claims and teachings of the Holy Spirit Baptism.

In regards to this subject as being 'false teaching,' (I assume that is what charismatics are being labeled as-false teachers) that is the area I had the hardest time with, because all the people in my charismatic congregation were nothing like the ones described in the New Testament. They all led very holy lives, were desirous to honor Christ, loved His Word, His Body. I could find no fault with them and they were exuberant, where non-charismatic churches seemed dull and lifeless. We left our charismatic church and are now attending a Bible Church, and are very satisfied, relieved to be were the doctrine is better. But I have a hard time thinking of all charismatics as 'false teachers,' even though they are in error, since they live very godly lives. I know most of them would not see themselves as John describes them in his blogs. They would think he is being way out in left field from the reality of charismatic practice.

Another concern I have is that this conference, although designed to help raise awareness and help correct the errors charismatic doctrines espouse, is only available to the people who can afford to get there, and can only accommodate a certain number. What about all those who can't make it and now the doors are closed? Isn't there a way to have a webinar or something that everyone who wants to participate, can? Will the video or audio be expensive, for those who didn't attend, to purchase. I'd hate to see this become a money maker for anyone.

From where I sit, the problem most people have is that we lack discernment, because we have a limited understanding of Bible interpretation and application. I can see that the Holy Spirit 'came on the scene' in very dramatic, powerful demonstrations in Acts. It happened, so it's easy to draw the wrong conclusion from what we see that happened in those accounts, and we think the same thing should be happening today. Even Dr. Brown's comments show he is misinformed about what John has said, and about why things happened as they did in Scripture. As an honest seeker of truth it took me many months to finally understand what was wrong with the charismatic teaching I had imbibed for over 20 years. I pray for clarity and compassion on the part of the Strange Fire 'cast of players' so that those sincere worshippers of Jesus will be able to have the scales removed from their eyes, as the Lord so graciously removed mine.

May our thrice holy Lord be honored


#22  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Friday, July 26, 2013 at 9:36 PM

Adam #19 writes,

Some refutation of the Calvinistic/Presbyterian frozen chosen doctrine would also be nice to see on the website. You are addressing one end of the pendulum with Strange Fire, next it would be nice to see the other side critiqued.

Being a Calvinist, I had to smile at your comment. Interesting you should say that. I wrote some articles on eternal security for our blog that can be found here, Read the comments as well.

Also, John preached a series of sermons on the Doctrines of Grace that can be located here,

#23  Posted by Tonya Dixon  |  Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 3:59 AM

Fred Butler,

Fantastic post! Very insightful and wonderfully worded.


#24  Posted by Adam D  |  Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 4:41 AM

Fred #22,

I've read and do not agree with yours or any other Calvinist perspective on the doctrine of election. Is has and always will come down to viewing election as corporate (biblical) vs individual (where God chooses by a lottery ball system who will be saved).

Since this is a thread on calling out charismatics, which I as a Pentecostal minister agree needs to be done, I will cut the election talk here.

However , since I did make you smile with the "frozen chosen" comment here is another to hopefully bring a grin:

John 3:16, Calvinist Translation:

For God so loved the elect, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever was elected should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Election is corporate and refers to Israel and the Church, God's chosen vessels on this earth. Calvinism was just the end of the pendulum swing away from Catholic works doctrine of the Reformation and should be abandoned for sound Biblical doctrine.

#25  Posted by Kelly Whalen  |  Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 7:18 AM

Like Brad Kennedy | Thursday, July 25, 2013at 4:25 PM I too am confused Fred. I have run up against this issue before. I have read books by authors who seem to be right on the mark only to find out things about their lifestyle/beliefs/walk, that leave me stunned/scratching my head/confused about them and what they really believe, even whether they are actually saved. Should I be eating the chicken and spitting out the bones so to speak, or am I right in not reading anymore of these authors works. I love John's teaching and so appreciate his love for the flock. The defense you give him in light of Mr. Brown's attack is the defense I give him when people attack him in front of and/or to me. I appreciate your words and hope you can help clear up my confusion.

Thank you,

Kelly Whalen

#26  Posted by Craig Furlong  |  Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 9:18 AM

Thank you, Fred, for your insight on this problem is excellent...

And this insight can only found through careful study of the Scriptures as illuminated by the Holy Spirit...

Please see/hear this as it relates directly to our question at hand:

"Bad Hermeneutics"-

Bless our God and Father, and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, for giving the Holy Spirit & the Word of God (which He places even above His very Name) to all His children who are the Called according to His purpose!

God's lovingkindness is everlasting!

#27  Posted by Nicola Steenkamp  |  Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 11:55 AM

Math 7: 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are """few""" who find it.

I'm so grateful for this ministry as their are few pastors in this world who will stand up for truth. I came out of a charismatic church & JM teaching on does the truth exist anymore (I think that's what is was called) was a true blessing and helped me to understand the what struggles I had with this movement. I was saved through a Pentecostal/charismatic church but thinking back my emotions were more caught up and the minister use to make such a good message match the scripture you would believe it was the truth.

What a shock to the system realising all the confessing for this & that, was not reality. After my knees had stopped knocking at the realisation of the whole picture, I believe God had me in the palm of His hand and helped me walk the path of recovery. Now in a more restored position we bend to God's Word not the other way around.

I read both Brown articles and was wondering if his emotions are caught up a bit because of his past involvement. As a human it is the most difficult thing to say I'm am wrong, no one likes to admit it, in fact they will go a long way to defend themselves to the umph degree (pages long x 2), as no one wants to feel like a fool! (just a wee thought).

I think the up and coming conference is exciting and I know JM will approach all the topics with much care, can't wait til the audios are out. The church cannot sway and mimic worldly Babylonian ways just because the name of Jesus is used this doesn't gel the character of God

#28  Posted by Donna Howell  |  Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 5:00 PM

This was very well written. If I disagree with any of it, it would be in your comment section. Mr. Butler and Mr. Brown conduct themselves appropriately as Christian authors and speakers who may disagree, but have great respect for each other. They simply debate. The commentors thought tend toward the accusatory nature. Please do not lump all charismatics together, and I promise I will not lump all fundamentalist together. Those you speak of are only those you see on television that many charismatics do not listen or aspire to. I find your comments as offensive as I do them, and also unfair. Mr. Butler speaks of discernment. I agree that we Christians should possess this. Mine is telling me there is a lack of love on this page.

#29  Posted by Steve Noel  |  Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 5:45 PM

"I am embarrassed when I consider that the 'Spirit-filled' Church - of which I am a part - has a reputation for carnality, flakiness, and exaggerated hype, a reputation largely deserved!... Our American 'signs, wonders and miracles' are hardly worthy of the name... Our Charismatic assemblies are in a lull. Our Full-gospel congregations have stalled. Our Faith churches could be headed for a fall. Where we don't have carnal fanfare we have cold formalism; where we don't have sensationalistic testimonies we have stifling traditions. Our tongues are bland, our prophecies are boring; our interpretations are hollow, are revelations are hokey. We have minor league miracles and mediocre manifestations. Is Jesus exalted by all of this?"

These are some of the words from Dr. Michael L. Brown in his book "Whatever Happened to the Power of God: Is the Charismatic Church Slain in the Spirit or Down for the Count?" In this book, along with his "A Time for Holy Fire", Dr. Brown pulls no punches in confronting the excesses, sins, and unbiblical teachings often found among Charismatic and Pentecostal leaders. But he doesn't throw the baby out with the bath water. He doesn't write just to condemn, but to challenge the church to go deeper.

The response here seems more about Mike Bickle, Cindy Jacobs, Todd Bentley, etc., than about what Dr. Brown has written in response to John MacArthur and the upcoming "Strange Fire" conference. Instead of dealing with the meat of Dr. Brown's criticisms the article focuses on guilt by association. Brief comments by Dr. Brown in response to accusations against other Charismatic ministries is precious little to build an article on.

Why not engage the real issue? Dr. Brown has expressed a desire to respectfully engage Pastor MacArthur in a debate on the cessation / continuation of the gifts of the Spirit. That would be edifying and constructive.

I greatly appreciate the ministry of Pastor MacArthur. I have be built up in the Lord from his writings. At times I appreciate his bold stance for the truth, at other times I cringe.

One wonders, would Pastor MacArthur have stood with the many who opposed George Whitefield for the "strange fire" burning in his meetings? How about Jonathan Edwards, Gilbert Tennent, Howell Harris, Daniel Rowland, Duncan Campbell, etc. etc. etc. Do the critics of "strange fire" have the boldness to declare a lack of discernment in these past leaders? Where is the consistency?

There is no doubt that strange fire burns today and is damaging many. As a Pentecostal I am continually discouraged by the foolishness and yes, sometimes heretical things being passed off as the work of the Spirit. I, along with Dr. Brown, am also discouraged by the militant attitude against the genuine moving of the Spirit from Pastor MacArthur. If iron is to sharpen iron (Pro. 27:17), then this discussion / debate needs to continue. My prayer is that we can focus on the Word and not on personalities.

#30  Posted by Jordan Remington  |  Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 6:01 PM

Proverbs 13:22 A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,

But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.

God forbid C. Peter Wagner makes a prophetic declaration based on scripture......

John 14:12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.

And God also forbid Cindy Jacobs to actually DO what Jesus says! (feeding the 3,000)

How can someone who claims to know scripture dismiss and MOCK those who are living out scripture???

#31  Posted by Julie Lapierre  |  Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 8:25 PM


Thank you so much for your thorough and clarifying response to Michael Brown. If you'll permit me, I'd like to share the story of my own personal encounter with Brown during the height of the Pensacola Outpouring. I first published this on my blog on July 8 of this year.

I have wrestled with how to share this story for fear that I'll be thought a kook or a liar. I also realize that the bulk of those who lean Charismatic/Pentecostal will most certainly ascribe these events to the Holy Spirit. 
I shared this story, in detail, with my husband last week and tried to put it into words prior to writing it down. Attempting to describe a supernatural occurrence has proven to be difficult, as I've struggled for words to convey what took place without becoming too abstract.

Before I begin, a brief bit of background is in order: 
In 1989 I began attending a Charismatic church in the Kansas City area named Full Faith Church of Love. Those familiar with the Kansas City Prophets will recognize this church and may recall it's founding pastor, Ernie Gruen who was removed from leadership in the early 1990's. By the mid 1990's the church was under the leadership of a new pastor, Hal Linhardt, who is currently on staff at the Kansas City International House of Prayer-IHOP, which you've referred to in your post.

Linhardt had become fascinated with the Charismatic Pensacola Outpouring/Brownsville Revival and took the entire staff, as well as the elder board, to Pensacola to see this "move of the spirit" and to "bring it back" to Kansas City. It was Linhardt's desire to begin a revival à la Brownsville at Full Faith. 

Shortly after their return a team from the Brownsville Assembly came to Kansas City to host a mini revival. That team included Michael Brown. It was a 3 night event with hours of "worship music, preaching and prayer". 

I had been studying the Word of God intensely and inductively for three years and had begun to see the serious errors of Charismatic Pentecostal teachings, thus I attended this mini revival with great skepticism. What I witnessed was exactly what Dr. MacArthur described when he called the Pensacola Outpouring a, “...mindless, emotional orgy marked by irrational, sensual and fleshly behavior produced by altered states of consciousness, peer pressure, heightened expectation or suggestibility. That is sociopsychological manipulation and mesmerism and it is a prostitution of the glorious revelation of God taught clearly and powerfully to an eager, attentive and controlled mind.”

The first two evenings I sat cautiously in the back of the church as an observer, watching the worship team, listening to the speakers, and seeing my friends swept away in a tide of pure emotionalism. They lay on the floor of the sanctuary in hyper-suggestive states, laughing, barking and making guttural sounds, some writhing and rocking in rhythm. This clearly bore no resemblance to a church service, rather it mimicked a voodoo ceremony. 


#32  Posted by Julie Lapierre  |  Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 8:26 PM

Part II...

Michael Brown was the keynote speaker and he was featured on the final night. On this night I chose to sit in the front row. I wanted an unhindered view of this man who had been so lauded by the pastor. I remember looking at the people around me with their mesmerized expressions.
 Then Brown did something I'll never forget. The memory of it chills me to this day. He walked down from the platform and moved to the left side of the house. Standing a few feet from the people in the front row he extended his right arm out over them, parallel to the floor. He then began to walk, very, very slowly from house left to house right, his arm extended out over the heads of those seated in the front row. 
I recall thinking to myself, "This guy's quite the showman."

Then he walked past me.
 The physical sensation I felt defies description. I hesitate to describe it even now because words fail me. I felt an icy cold wave wash over me. It was dense and thick, a wave that completely enveloped me as he passed. From the top of my head to the soles of my feet, front to back, it covered me as he passed by. Chills ran down my spine. A lump lodged in my throat and fear gripped my chest. Who was this man and what was it that I had experience at his hand? The people around me began displaying the same voodoo-like states of consciousness as previously. I sat stunned.

Even now my skin crawls to think of it.
 That night I began searching the Scriptures, looking for something to explain what had happened. I resigned my membership in that church the next day and began looking for a biblically sound church where the Word of God was thoroughly taught.
 In the years since that night I've come to only one conclusion. What I experienced that night at the hand of Michael Brown was not of God. To ascribe it to the Holy Spirit is blasphemy.

I would deeply appreciate hearing from you, or Dr. MacArthur, as to what it was that occurred that night.

My deepest thanks for your time and consideration in this matter,


#33  Posted by Beth Viera  |  Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 9:54 PM

May Truth rise up

above the din,

and take it’s rightful place,

above the clamor

and the strife

that wears ole Evil’s face.

Help us discern

what is Your Truth

when voices start to rise.

In spirit, Father,

help us see

this matter

through Your eyes.



Shalom. Beth

#36  Posted by Joshuah Reitzel  |  Sunday, July 28, 2013 at 2:02 AM

I would like to bring up one major point of contention here, and i hope it will bring clarity and a more holistic approach to this whole discussion.

Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, as we all know, is not a light charge and should by no means be thrown around lightly.

In both Matthew 12 and Mark 3 blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is attributing genuine works of the Spirit to the Devil. Which in our case does not seem to be what the charismatic leaders mentioned are guilty of.

Secondly there is a biblical mandate for how we ought to treat prophecy.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

----Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. ----

Abstain from every form of evil." 1 Thess 5:16-22

All that to say, before making wild accusations, on either side, should we not consider what good is taking place in these meetings. Perhaps even from first hand experience. It may be more enlightening than critiquing another's straw man.

#37  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Monday, July 29, 2013 at 6:03 AM

Adam, #24

Thanks for the kind regards and for not derailing the comments. =-)

Do me a favor, though, and listen to the sermons John preached on the subject of election and the Doctrines of Grace that I linked. If anything, it will be helpful for you to actually know what Calvinism teaches rather than having a strawman view of it.

#38  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Monday, July 29, 2013 at 6:20 AM

Steve #29 writes,

The response here seems more about Mike Bickle, Cindy Jacobs, Todd Bentley, etc., than about what Dr. Brown has written in response to John MacArthur and the upcoming "Strange Fire" conference. Instead of dealing with the meat of Dr. Brown's criticisms the article focuses on guilt by association. Brief comments by Dr. Brown in response to accusations against other Charismatic ministries is precious little to build an article on.

Steve, the substance of what Dr. Brown was saying is that even though the charismatic movement may have individuals behaving excessively, the excess is not that big of deal and can be easily corrected. Those may not be his exact words, but that is the implication of what he was saying.

The reality, as I pointed out, is quite the opposite from what Dr. Brown claims. Many of the major leaders, people Dr. Brown himself names in those articles and on his Facebook page as being friends, go beyond just being excessive, to promoting bad theology, false prophecies, and out right lies and blasphemies. Moreover, they are leaders, not zealous new converts.

The book of his you cite is more than 10 years old, at least to my knowledge, and I have yet to see him in print or hear him on his radio program call those individuals out for repentance. If he truly has a concern about the "excesses" among his charismatic friends, he needs to call them NOW to repentance not just say, "Oh, I wrote about that once."

Rebuke and repentance should be a constant theme in his ministry seeing how the false teaching and prophecies of these individuals so saturate that circles in which Dr. Brown travels. I can tell you with certainty that confronting easy believism and non-Lordship has been a constant theme in John's teaching and ministry.


Why not engage the real issue? Dr. Brown has expressed a desire to respectfully engage Pastor MacArthur in a debate on the cessation / continuation of the gifts of the Spirit. That would be edifying and constructive.

A much better candidate for discussion and debate would be Justin Peters who has a specific ministry aimed at exposing the fraud and folly of the charismatic movement. Maybe you could suggest to Dr. Brown to contact him. He has a website under his name. He can speak with much better clarity and conciseness.


One wonders, would Pastor MacArthur have stood with the many who opposed George Whitefield for the "strange fire" burning in his meetings? How about Jonathan Edwards, Gilbert Tennent, Howell Harris, Daniel Rowland, Duncan Campbell, etc. etc. etc.

If you have read any history at all about those men, none of them engaged in any of the antics of modern day charismatics. To even compare their historic ministries with what happened at Brownsville is absurd.

#39  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Monday, July 29, 2013 at 6:29 AM

Jordan #30 writes,

God forbid C. Peter Wagner makes a prophetic declaration based on scripture......

If you read the "declaration" is was not derived from Scripture at all and was a command from Wagner for the wealth of the rich to be released to God's people. When did this happen or is it still unfulfilled?

And God also forbid Cindy Jacobs to actually DO what Jesus says! (feeding the 3,000)

If you actually watched the video, Jacobs was not feeding 3,000 hungry people like Jesus did in the Gospel accounts. She was "feeding" 3,000 folks at a big church who were hardly famished because they couldn't get food at a nearby restaurant.

Additionally, if you had watched the video, she goes on to claim that the offering she took in doubled miraculously from the time they counted it at the church to the time they took it to the bank for deposit. What sort of nonsense is that?

And I would further add that Christ's creative miracles are in an exclusive category all by themselves that no human being could every replicate because they are miracles displaying divine attributes. For Jacobs to even claim to have such ability places her in the position of not only being a liar, but a blasphemer.

#43  Posted by Chris Jones  |  Monday, July 29, 2013 at 11:00 AM


I enjoyed reading this post. My question for both camps is, why NOT have a genuine meeting on the issue? It doesn't have to be a debate, which would would be sensationalized, but a closed door meeting. It seems comments by both sides are either being misconstrued, or blown up (not by the actual authors in question, but others). This issue has and will continue to be a desperately divisive issue, regardless. I doubt anyone's mind is going to change. But perhaps dialogue with someone who is as generally respected as Dr. Brown would go a long way in understanding and perhaps even persuasion? Your thoughts?

#44  Posted by Scott Thompson  |  Monday, July 29, 2013 at 1:42 PM

Until you get your soteriological theology right you will be blind to a host of other biblical issues. I truly am looking forward to what I believe is dr browns debate with dr James white on Calvinism. I know dr White will be very clear on the subject and God will be glorified

#45  Posted by Sara Service  |  Monday, July 29, 2013 at 1:53 PM

Scott that debate already took place. You can view it on youtube.

#46  Posted by Chris Jones  |  Monday, July 29, 2013 at 2:10 PM

I for one would welcome a discussion between the two leaders. I thought I posted this earlier- i guess it didn't take. I would like to see ,with all of the fervor surrounding this, both parties be able to make their case, and not necessarily in a debate format- rather through discussions since apparently many on the charismatic side feel as if they are being told they are not saved (?) since they attend charismatic/Pentecostal churches , even though they would say their fellowships aren't part of the far out stuff. Thoughts?

#47  Posted by Claire Bennett  |  Monday, July 29, 2013 at 4:41 PM

Chris, I would also welcome a discussion between the two parties. I would like to see this as both parties being willing to listen sincerely to the concerns of the other, rather than each side defending themselves and attacking the other.

The Hebrew word for humility is, "shach," which, in the ancient pictorial language means, "destroy the fence." Does anyone see this?

People have built fences around themselves, both to protect themselves and to attack others safely. Does anyone believe that it is time for an attitude of humility, honesty and fence destruction?

Is this comment going to be posted, or is it too threatening?

#48  Posted by Steve Noel  |  Monday, July 29, 2013 at 9:16 PM

Fred #38,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comments. I do not personally know Dr. Brown so my suggestions for him to debate / dialogue with Justin Peters doesn't carry any more weight than yours. I've noticed that you have suggested it several times on the various pages this discussion is taking place. I don't know much about Peters other than that he is opposed to the Word of Faith movement. I am absolutely against it myself. I can't stomach Hinn, Dollar, Copeland, and most of the TBN nonsense either. I have no argument against those who take a bold and public stance against these false teachers. Dr. Brown has also strongly opposed the materialistic self-gratification message for many years. Usually, he does not publicly rebuke people by name. I have found him to be much more cautious about public criticism than most. This is a point of difference between Dr. Brown and Pastor MacArthur. I understand where both are coming from, and I tend to lean more towards Pastor MacArthur on this.

I have not given much attention to the ministries of Bickle or Jacobs. My general sense is that they are not viewed in the same way as those mentioned above. My understanding of the responses by Dr. Brown is that he take issue with lumping them, and others (Engle, Bonnke), in with the likes of the WOF group, T.D. Jakes, Todd Bentley, etc. He has indicated that the criticisms and condemnations coming forth are too broad. I think this is a legitimate concern.

I hear you point about the lukewarm attitude to these issues by solid Charismatics and Pentecostals. I think it is a correct diagnosis. If there was a greater willingness to speak out against these "ministries" within Charismatic and Pentecostal circles, then perhaps a "Strange Fire" conference wouldn't be needed. It is difficult to hear criticism from outside one's own camp. I think this is something we in the Pentecostal / Charismatic church need.

I have read and taught about the lives and ministries of Whitefield, Edwards, Harris, Tennent, Campbell, etc. I have wept as I've read of the power of the Spirit attending their meetings. They experienced many, many things in their meetings that I am convinced would come under severe criticism from those of Pastor MacArthur's perspective. Each of them had to defend themselves and their ministries against the critics who lampooned them for attributing the "strange fire" in their meetings to the work of the Holy Spirit. This is historical fact.

Thank you again for responding to my post. I love Pastor MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Todd Friel, and many other cessationists. I have grown so much from their ministries. I have also grown much from Michael Brown's ministry. I think Dr. Brown is right to call cessationism as false teaching that needs to be confronted. I am convinced that many cessationists are so because of experience and not Scripture. I hope that there can be significant discussion on this. Maybe, this controversy will lead there?

#49  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Tuesday, July 30, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Steve, #48 writes,

Dr. Brown has also strongly opposed the materialistic self-gratification message for many years. Usually, he does not publicly rebuke people by name. I have found him to be much more cautious about public criticism than most. This is a point of difference between Dr. Brown and Pastor MacArthur.

Hey again Steve,

Like I stated above, I know Dr. Brown insists that he is opposed to the materialistic, self-gratification message of the Health-N-Wealth charlatans, and that he believes our criticisms are just "too broad." However, our point of contention goes beyond just those individuals.

He gives credibility to other people I noted in my article, like Jacobs and Bickle, who though they are not Health-N-Wealth, do teach seriously flawed theology that produces a warped understanding of God, Jesus Christ, salvation, and spiritual living. What really amounts to heresy in my mind. When a woman who claims to speak for God, and whom Dr. Brown claims is a good friend, tells a church that she fed 3,000 people with 2 loaves of bread, that is troubling behavior. Not only is she lying, she is calling herself equal with Jesus.

Dr. Brown charges John MacArthur of wrongly accusing good people he personally knows with "blaspheming the spirit" and yet when clear illustrations of what John means is demonstrated, Brown dismisses it, referring us to talk with the offending party or ignores it all together as nothing. He just wants to debate continuationism and cessationism. I can tell you now, even if spiritual gifts are continuing now, they are not being manifested among those people Dr. Brown calls friends.

Additionally, though he may decry Health-N-Wealth ministries, he still runs in circles with them participating in their services and sharing in writing along side them on websites like Charisma news.

Think about it: If John were to have a weekly column on a website in which he wrote along side Mormons, Roman Catholics, and Jewish conservatives, would you wonder about this association? It's one thing to be featured as a one time published writer on such a website, but if it were weekly over the course of years, one would begin to think John doesn't consider Mormons and Roman Catholics to be so bad now.

I'll end by saying I am cessationist because of experience, but my experience is confirmed from Scripture. God had a place for miraculous signs and wonders, and when that time ended, those gifts ended because there is no more need for them.

#50  Posted by Charles Williamson  |  Tuesday, July 30, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Fred wrote,

“Think about it: If John were to have a weekly column on a website in which he wrote along side Mormons, Roman Catholics, and Jewish conservatives, would you wonder about this association? It's one thing to be featured as a one time published writer on such a website, but if it were weekly over the course of years, one would begin to think John doesn't consider Mormons and Roman Catholics to be so bad now.”

The problem is Fred, I don’t think that they would post his columns on their website and if even if they did, they would probably pick and choose what they wanted to suite their own bias or not post it at all.

That would be unethical wouldn’t you say?

Fred wrote,

” I'll end by saying I am cessationist because of experience, but my experience is confirmed from Scripture. God had a place for miraculous signs and wonders, and when that time ended, those gifts ended because there is no more need for them.”

So God gifted you with senses, making you aware of your environment, hands and feet so that you might touch the bible, a nose to smell its bindings, eyes to read its scriptures, a tongue to taste its words and ears to comprehend it message.

Tell me Fred, which one of these gifts is the most important and which could you do without.

I’ll end by saying, Hearing is the first thing we experience and after this we do the deeds of life.

So your right, we can live without many gifts, but we can’t have life without hearing Gods words.

#51  Posted by Claire Bennett  |  Tuesday, July 30, 2013 at 5:54 PM

I believe there is a difference between guilt by association and guilt by validation. It seems Brown has validated ungodly persons. I am not sure MacArthur has validated ungodly persons in his own camp, but by his silence, it is a sort of validation.

Jesus certainly associated with those not considered acceptable by the religious establishment of the day. We are to go into the world, not expect the world to show up at our sanitized facilities. So, I wouldn't have a problem with posting comments or even writing articles in a venue where the ungodly and persons I have disagreement with also comment and write articles. It would be a problem if I were forbidden from "naming names," or critiquing works because they belonged to another paying customer/client.

#52  Posted by Dave Ulrick  |  Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 6:07 AM

Joshuah, #36

The passages you cite are indeed applicable to the testing of prophecy, but they are NOT adequate for the kind of discernment that would be necessary to sift the kind of errant prophecy that's supposedly going on today.

If we're to expect inerrant prophecy, we can test a prophetic utterance without undue difficulty. If the prophet has heretofore proven to be 100% accurate--his utterances have been 100% true to Scripture and none of his extra-Biblical predictive prophecies have failed to come to pass--AND his latest utterance is likewise without error, it can and ought to be accepted as being just as authoritative as Scripture.

Now, let's suppose that we have an utterance from a supposed prophet who's got an excellent track record by the standards of those who support modern-day errant "New Testament prophecy": he's supposed to have been right, say, 80% of the time. Some aspects of his new utterance can be compared with Scripture and no obvious fault can be discerned, but there's a portion that predicts that the local church is going to be an instrument in a mighty move of God's Spirit and commands that the church ought to undertake certain specific actions to prepare for it. A certain man in the church is singled out by name to be raised up in a particular ministry role. All this is spoken as a "thus says the Lord".

The question we must ponder: how do we test this utterance from a not-completely-accurate prophet? Bear in mind that if God has truly spoken we must obey, but if God has NOT spoken we must not! The problem before us is that the message about the mighty move of the Spirit may or may not be true, and the portion regarding the man who ought to be raised up may or may not be true. Remember that the prophet has only an 80% success rate.

Should this prophecy be accepted or rejected? If inerrant prophecy were the rule, the result of the test would be straightforward: the prophecy must be rejected because of the prophet's prior inaccuracy, but if errant prophecy is the rule, how do we know what to do with it? If we accept it, we might be accepting a false message, or if we reject it we might be rejecting a true message. What hangs in the balance here is whether to obey or disobey God, but if we can't be 100% certain of what God said how can we do this?

If one thinks through the ramifications of today's errant gift of prophecy, it should be evident that "testing the spirits", etc., just isn't possible. For failible men to accurately ascertain the validity of a prophecy, the gift of prophecy must be inerrant!


#56  Posted by Jean Selden  |  Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Johns integrity stands on its own. I am confident that his conscience is clear. Brown is just one of many in these times that obviously is confused and conflicted with their faith.

I did the charismatic thing for a dozen years. Not until the Holy Spirit enlightened me of the falsehoods within that movement and our whole family started listening to John's teachings, did I finally get some peace.

Charismatics are bound and I believe many want out, but have been brainwashed that non-C's don't have the whole truth. How wrong they are. They need to be released from their blindness and there is no better a way than attending John's conference or listening online.

The Charismatics are lovely people, but have been steered wrong into a deception of the truth.

Blessings to all at GTY. You are a light in an ever-darkening world. Good post, Fred.

Jean Selden

#57  Posted by David Smith  |  Monday, August 12, 2013 at 2:16 AM

Julie aka Jules (#31/32)

Sorry that this is a bit late, but I want to thank you for sharing your story with us. First-hand accounts like this are always of great value.

I agree with the quote from John MacArthur that you included, that Brownsville was a "...mindless, emotional orgy marked by irrational, sensual and fleshly behavior produced by altered states of consciousness, peer pressure, heightened expectation or suggestibility. That is sociopsychological manipulation and mesmerism and it is a prostitution of the glorious revelation of God taught clearly and powerfully to an eager, attentive and controlled mind"

My own research and experience have led to believe that the above applies (in varying degrees) to the entire pentecostal and charismatic movements. Most of the time, it is in a milder form, but every so often, a combination of circumstances cause it to flare up to an extreme - Toronto, Brownsville, Lakeland are the prominent examples from recent years, there are many others that are less well-known. What happens every week in pentecostal and charismatic churches prepares people for these big spectacles, but eventually they run out of steam or end with a scandal.

You asked for an explanation of what happened to you. Permit me to respond as no-one else has. I'll do this in another comment as I won't have enough space here...

#58  Posted by David Smith  |  Monday, August 12, 2013 at 2:34 AM

... Regarding your experience at the Michael Brown meeting:

Firstly, I don't think anyone can say for certain what happened to you.

Secondly, my view (which pastor John seems to share) is that everything that happens in these revivals can be explained by psychological factors. So I am very reluctant to attribute it to anything supernatural or demonic.

Here's my best explanation: Whilst it appears you went to the meeting as a sceptic, it is possible that you were still affected by it. You don't go into details, but these meetings have a fairly typical format. Please correct me if my speculation here is wrong.

There would have been an hour or so of music, mostly repetitive, progressing from fast and rhythmic with loud drums, to soft and gentle, with everyone singing along enthusiastically throughout. That in itself is a recipe for mass hypnosis. Often this is followed by testimonies of how people have supposedly encountered the power of God, and the people are then prayed for and may fall over or "manifest" in various ways. All this plants suggestions in the congregation's minds, which are particularly receptive at this point. Brown probably spoke next, again perhaps in a hypnotic style, you don't say, before doing his strange walk along the front of the people.

There is an incredibly charged atmosphere in these revivals - there would have been a large room full of people participating passionately. You were on the front row, where the most enthusiastic people tend to be. In such a environment, it can be difficult to avoid getting swept up by the waves of emotion and everything that is happening around you. Peer pressure can operate subconsciously, without you realising it. You'd also been going to this charismatic church for several years, and this could have conditioned your mind, even though you were having doubts.

The power of music, in particular, must never be underestimated. I once read a fascinating story about someone who went to study voodoo rituals in Haiti. They were observers, not participants, but were unable to resist being overwhelmed by the drumming and ended up dancing uncontrollably in a possession trance which left them feeling reborn. Music can directly affect the brain and in some situations it can be as powerful and irresistible as the effects of a psychoactive drug.

So I would propose that you may have been unknowingly affected by the meeting and your mind ended up manufacturing the experience. Your concerns and scepticism could explain why it felt so bad - for the other people, the "true believers", it was probably wonderful and felt like divine love. I totally agree with you that it wasn't from God, but neither do I believe it was demonic.

I thank God that you have left this deception and don't appear to have been badly affected. Many other people end up traumatised.

I hope this is of help. If you have any more details of the meeting or even a video of it, I might be able to expand a bit.

#59  Posted by Julie Lapierre  |  Monday, August 12, 2013 at 9:03 AM

Thank you, David. May I contact you via email with further details?