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John MacArthur Answers His Critics, Part 1

Monday, November 04, 2013

Earlier today, part one of a new interview with John MacArthur was posted at Tim Challies’s website. In the interview, John responds to several questions regarding the Strange Fire conference and Strange Fire book—all of which came directly from readers of Challies’s blog.

Here’s a quick summary of the issues tackled in part one:

  • What was the purpose of the Strange Fire conference, and why weren’t any Reformed continuationists invited to defend their side of the debate?
  • If this is a secondary theological issue, why are you taking such a strong stand? And why does God allow secondary issues to remain unclear to the church?
  • Can you explain the biblical case for cessationism?
  • If Scripture is clear on these issues, how do you explain the continuationist theology of many well-respected pastors and theologians, including some men you would consider friends?
  • What danger does continuationist preaching and practice represent to the church?
  • How do you respond to critics who say you used too broad a brush in your criticism of the charismatic movement?

You can read the interview here. We’ll be sure to link to the second part when it becomes available.

GTY Staff


#3  Posted by Mary C Rodriguez  |  Tuesday, November 05, 2013at 3:22 PM

What a courage to be open to respond that kind of questions. Off course in the conferences as in the book Dr MacArthur is inviting continuationists to expose their points and to compare them with what the Bible say, so he is now answering questions standing, facing with Bible in hand, committed to the Word and true to their convictions despite criticism. He is a great blessing to the church of today

#4  Posted by Jeremy K  |  Tuesday, November 05, 2013at 8:16 PM

Comment deleted by user.
#5  Posted by Jeremy K  |  Tuesday, November 05, 2013at 8:30 PM

I listened to Phil Johnson’s interview with Michael Brown and really that was largely a case of 'Gotcha journalism', and I think if that’s the best that they can do then they've got a lot to worry about. Why are so many people up in arms and unwilling to concede? I think John said it himself:

I think the best kept secret about Grace Church is that biblical preaching, strong, convicting, straight-forward, honest, deep biblical preaching, hard preaching produces soft people…soft preaching produces hard people Source: Securing Our Final Glory

Annexing onto Phil Johnson’s analogy of a plants circulatory system and starting with Charles Fox Parham back in Topeka, to what now has encroached globally, there has been an obvious abundance of pullulation that has been distorting, poisonous and dangerous to the Christian landscape and GTY have done a brilliant job in combating that with great levels of discernment that could without doubt, only be possible with a strong and unwavering commitment to the scriptures. And that’s why I can say it’s ‘obvious’ because through symposium, it’s just been made unmistakable.

There’s many varied groups including charismatics who attempt to procrusteanize the gospel into their subjective version of it, or in contrast to this, and as John MacArthur has pointed out, they just leave scripture at the door altogether. And yet through this conference, clear biblical examples have been given to the essential questions that help us arrive at biblical answers whilst exposing the quacks with their claques and some of their ill-gotten numinous practices.

I haven’t seen any more resounding demonstration of faithful, Christ centered and straight forward fellowship than what John MacArthur offers here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are many lesser known church leaders who are just as faithful and experienced at exegeting the bible but it’s a true blessing to believers the world over to have MacArthur’ and the other GTY team members preaching made accessible through the medium of the internet. Just 25-30 years ago these things would not have been achievable. Surely, this is a great work of the Holy Spirit – Ephesians 4:11-12, Colossians 3:16, Hebrews 4:12, John 17:17

#6  Posted by Manuel Jr. Reyes  |  Wednesday, November 06, 2013at 2:59 AM

We need this kind of stuff! This makes the view of theology more microscopic. Milliions are swimming too far from the shore of truth. It is too unsafe at the deep ocean of continuationism. I think those who adhere at that belief do not feel secured in God's Word's power - weak in faith. (Although they see cessasionists the same way in an opposite manner). For me, at the end of the day, it is God and His Word will prevail more than anything else. Thank you for the boldness.

#7  Posted by Robin Lane  |  Wednesday, November 06, 2013at 4:26 AM

What baffles very many Christians all around the world is how any one person can claim that they KNOW that NONE of the experiences of more than 500 million people match the spiritual gifts described in the Bible.

Given the number of charismatics, and the enormous number of experiences that such a large number of people have, it is impossible to justify the absolute statements that John makes about all their experiences; e.g. “So, I don’t deny that charismatics have lots of experiences. But I do deny the notion that those experiences match what the Bible describes as the miraculous and revelatory gifts of the New Testament. The modern experiences don’t even come close.”

Such sweeping claims discredit the valid points that John and others have made about the frauds who gain huge sums of money from vulnerable people. Those frauds should not be described as part of the charismatic movement, they are simply frauds.

#9  Posted by Anthony Russ  |  Wednesday, November 06, 2013at 7:38 AM

I know for me. The Charismtics always made me feel as if I wasn't good enough or qualified as a Christian, they confused me becasue I didn't have the gift of Tongues, Healing or Prophecy etc. I always felt left out or like a second class Christian so to speak. It seemed that there must be something wrong with my faith. It's like I wasn't good enough or had a strong enough faith in my Christian walk and so that's why I didn't have the gifts of the Holy Spirit. With the help of Pastor John MacArthur and his study on the Charismatic Chaos and now the Strange Fire Book and Conference, I came to understand that the gifts of the early Church were signs to the validity of Jesus' Messiahship and to validate the Apostles ministry as God's spokesman for the spreading of the Gospel and the Church. I plan on getting the Book and DVD's once I save the money to buy them, times are a little tough now money wise. I know that my faith in Christ is sure and I know my place is secure in the Lord, Jesus Christ and I long for His soon return. Thanks Pastor John MacArthur for your faithfulness in the Lord and the study of His Word. God Bless you all. Come Lord Jesus Come!!!

#12  Posted by Dolores Kimball  |  Thursday, November 07, 2013at 9:05 AM

Numbers are never the verification of truth. In fact, the opposite is true. Jesus warned that the broad road leading to destruction has "many" on it, but narrow is the gate and difficult is the way that leads to life, and "few" there are that find it. (Mat. 7:13-14). He also said "many" would come in His name and deceive "many" (Mat. 24:5). John MacArthur and those like him are certainly few in number. Satan is the deceiver of many. Don't be deceived.

#13  Posted by David Smith  |  Thursday, November 07, 2013at 11:14 AM

Robin Lane (#6):

Whilst, technically, we can't say for certain that there aren't, somewhere on earth, people with genuinely Biblical charismatic gifts, I think we can prove beyond reasonable doubt that they don't exist.

Firstly, if such people do exist, why haven't they made themselves known to the wider church? Remember that the gifts are for the benefit of the church.

Secondly, those of us with considerable experience of the charismatic movement have never seen anything to suggest that such people exist. Thousands of people, both christian theologians and secular academics, have studied the movement since it began. It is inconceivable that, if such people exist, they haven't been spotted.

Thirdly, and this is the clincher for me. All charismatics and pentecostals trace their roots back to Topeka and the Azusa Street revival. They owe their existence to those events. And those events were demonstrably fraudulent. The origin of the movement was bad, and everything that grows from it is bad. It's like a polluted spring - you can divide the water into different streams and go a long way from the source, but it's still the same dirty water.

Regarding your point about frauds - you will find very few charismatics who distance themselves from the frauds. The reason is that the frauds believe and do the same things as the rest of the charismatic world. But, again, the key thing is that the people who started and grew the movement were also frauds. Will charismatics call Charles Parham, Agnes Ozman, and William Seymour frauds? Will charismatics call Aimee Semple McPherson, Oral Roberts, William Branham, and Kathryn Kuhlman frauds? Because if they will, they've just admitted that their whole movement is a fraud!

#15  Posted by Annette Good  |  Thursday, November 07, 2013at 6:39 PM

Amen to that! I was raised in the Charismatic Movement and it has "colored" my faith. It is true that even though it is a secondary issue it affects every aspect of life. I am continually grateful that God pulled me out of that muddy pit. I am so hungry for real, true, sound biblical teaching and doctrine, I feel like I've been robbed of the main course and have tried to grow on just the plate garnishes. Praise God for truth teachers like John Mac Arthur!

#22  Posted by Mario Maneville  |  Friday, November 22, 2013at 5:11 AM

Thank you pastor John for your bold stand against this demonic onslaught against the Church. In South Africa something very evil is happening. Drug lords/Gang Leaders has catch onto the prosperity gospel and are now training up their own pastors in prison on Creflo Dollar and Benni Hinn teachings and just about all the TBN charlatans' teachings. When these guys are released they plant churches and have gang members testify about the criminal things they've done, but now jesus saved them. They do all these gimicks that they see on tv and call it the Spirit. They use these churches as a front for their drug trade and to "wash" their blood money.

These churches are filled with people who serve the "man of God". They are being taught that their destiny is tied to the "man of God" and therefore if they leave they will never be blessed.

The prosperity "gospel" is now a tool used by top gang leaders mostly among the "colored" people of South Africa to scam people ouit of their hard earned cash. Most of these people are poor people that struggle to make ends meat. many of the Pentecostal pastors are also now supporting these gangsters and are afraid to speak out against them.