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Friday, October 16, 2015 | Comments (200)

Two years ago this week, Grace to You hosted the Strange Fire conference at Grace Community Church. Coinciding with the launch of John MacArthur’s book Strange Fire, the conference featured a comprehensive critique of the charismatic movement and the blasphemous abuse of the Holy Spirit that goes on under its purview. While the response to the conference was overwhelming, many of the issues that were raised have yet to be seriously acted upon. Our goal is to fan the flames of this important discussion and continue the call for discernment and discipline in the charismatic movement. To that end, we want to rerun some of the important articles from before and after the conference, and encourage you to visit the Strange Fire website for all the sermons, articles, and videos from that landmark event. –GTY Staff

by Cameron Buettel

It’s been just over a year since the highly publicized and controversial Strange Fire conference.

As a Grace to You employee with a charismatic background, I watched the buildup to the conference with a considerable amount of interest. I am certainly no stranger to the grievous damage caused by reckless false prophecies in the charismatic church. But since none of that spiritual fallout ever touched me personally, my animosity for the movement did not run deep. In fact, the major gripe I had with my old mainstream Pentecostal church was the same gripe I have with the church growth and emergent movements—a failure to rightly preach the gospel.

But as Strange Fire approached, I had the opportunity to study the charismatic movement with much closer scrutiny than before. In particular, I investigated several influential charismatic leaders, consuming an unhealthy amount of their videos and writing.

That investigation revealed a clear pattern that charismatics follow when engaged in debate. It’s almost a codified playbook of sorts for their self-defense (call it Foxe’s Book of Charismatics With Hurt Feelings), and it goes like this:

  • Dogged insistence that the gifts of prophesy, tongues, and healing continue to the present day.
  • Vague anecdotal evidence in support of the continuation of those gifts.
  • Unshakable confidence that the worst charismatic abusers and charlatans represent only the renegade fringe of the movement, and that they wield limited influence among mainstream charismatics.
  • Staunch refusal to name, criticize, or publically disavow those abusers and offenders at the supposed fringe of the movement.
  • Dire warnings that rejecting anyone who claims to speak on behalf of the Holy Spirit or wield His power is tantamount to rejecting the Spirit Himself.
  • Total disinterest in discussing or debating any doctrinal or ecclesiological issues other than continuationism versus cessationism.
  • Confident assertions about the explosive growth of the charismatic church worldwide, and blithe acceptance that everyone who claims to be a charismatic is an authentic believer.

For many charismatic apologists, their self-defense doesn’t even extend that far. For them, the debate begins and ends with continuationism, so that’s all they ever want to talk about. In fact, most of the responses to Strange Fire have amounted to little more than reviving certain authors’ greatest hits in defense of the continuation of the apostolic gifts.

What’s important about that is this: Strange Fire was not primarily or even significantly about cessationism. Yes, it’s true that one of the keynote sessions made a biblical case for the cessation of the apostolic gifts, while others defended cessationism as the historical position of the church. But it still constituted only one part of a broad response to the charismatic movement as a whole.

In fact, if continuationism was the only issue in the charismatic movement that John MacArthur and the other Strange Fire speakers were concerned about, there likely never would have been a conference or a book to begin with.

Instead, Strange Fire addressed the rampant abuse of the Holy Spirit, the perversion of Scripture, and the danger charismatic teaching and practice represent to hundreds of millions of people around the world. It covered an array of theological and doctrinal issues, and it raised several important questions that charismatics need to address.

And yet a year later, the responses to the conference continue to focus on defending the continuation of the gifts. It makes you wonder whether charismatic leaders are defiant or merely deaf.

So in the interest of advancing the conversation beyond the endless defense of continuationism, let us table that part of the discussion. If it helps, imagine that we’ve conceded that point of debate. (We haven’t, but that’s beside the point at the moment.) There still remains a whole raft of questions and issues that need to be addressed. Questions like:

  • Is there any statistical evidence that proves the so-called “lunatic fringe” of the charismatic world is not actually the mainstream of the movement? Compelling statistics were produced at Strange Fire that indicated the prevalence of prosperity theology in mainstream charismatic churches. Can those numbers be contradicted, or is it time to reconsider who is truly on the fringe?
  • What is the responsibility of charismatic leaders to police their own movement beyond the walls of their individual churches? Who will be willing unequivocally to call out heretics and charlatans? And why are so many charismatics comfortable with false teachers serving as the face of their movement?
  • What constitutes the true, biblical gospel? And what deviations from it qualify as apostasy and heresy? In particular, how do you make sense of the rise of charismatic expressions in the Catholic Church? Is it possible to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit while continuing to reject the biblical gospel?
  • Is Oneness Pentecostalism heresy? Or is perverting the doctrine of the Trinity not really such a big deal after all?
  • How are manufactured experiences—like seeding air conditioning vents with gold flakes and promoting man-made prophecies—helpful or encouraging for true spiritual growth? Why should the proliferation of phonies give anyone confidence that the real thing even exists?
  • Is the prosperity gospel biblical? If not, doesn’t it fall under the curse of Galatians 1:8–9?
  • When it comes to Scripture’s instructions and prohibitions for life in the church—for example, Paul’s clear teaching about female pastors, or his admonition for only one person at a time to speak in tongues—how seriously do we need to take those things today? Again, are these matters worth dividing over?
  • Does the gift of tongues as practiced in charismatic churches today bear any resemblance to the supernatural events on the Day of Pentecost, or any other expression of the gift of tongues found in the book of Acts? If not, why is the dramatic difference acceptable for continuationists?
  • If today’s prophets are not held to the biblical standard of one-hundred percent accuracy, what standard is there for people who make false prophecies? Or is modern prophecy nothing more than a crapshoot?
  • Finally, in the immediate aftermath of Strange Fire, Phil Johnson made an appearance on Dr. Michael Brown’s radio program. Phil issued Brown a challenge—which Brown accepted—to produce any audio of Mike Bickle or someone of similar influence in the charismatic movement making a clear presentation of the gospel. We’re still waiting for that audio.

We want to see someone—anyone—from the charismatic side take up those important issues. Until then, the persistent debate over cessationism and continuationism feels like little more than a deliberate diversion.

If the charismatic movement were truly as vibrant and Spirit-filled as charismatic apologists claim, John MacArthur would never have needed to host the Strange Fire conference or write the book. The issues he and the other speakers raised at Strange Fire should have been dealt with decades ago by charismatics who were faithful to the biblical gospel and recognized the need to address the many perversions that were gaining traction.

Our preference still is for those faithful believers within the movement—who hold fast to Scripture and love the truth—to step up and clean house. Consider these our suggestions about where they might want to start.


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#1  Posted by Hau Thang  |  Monday, November 3, 2014 at 6:21 AM

Well said.

#2  Posted by Matthew Sherro  |  Monday, November 3, 2014 at 7:04 AM

My Brother:

I will answer more of these questions as time permits but I wanted to address one now:

The Biblical Gospel: Jesus Christ, equal in power and authority with the Father, yet separate in Personhood, came to this earth, lived a sinless life fulfilling ALL the Law and died a subsitutionay death on the cross. This death was to restore our ability to have relationship (servanthood) with Him, to be saved from the power and consequences of sin,(solely by the good pleasure of His grace) and to have a place with Him for all eternity where we may give glory and honor unto Him who alone is worthy. Those who are called and answer that call by bowing the knee to the Lordship of Christ and confessing Him as such and then turn from their wickedness (by His power) are the Redeemed.

The Gift of the Holy Spirit is first and foremost the Spirit Himself. The Lord Jesus sends the Spirit to testify of Christ, to convict of sin, to empower for both ministry and holy living. He is to be equally desired as the Son, is to be worshipped equally with the Son and the Father as all three are equal in Power, Authority, and Godhood but are three distinct persons. To deny the different persons (oneness pentecostalism) is to promote the old Sabellian Heresy.

As to charismatic experiences in Roman Catholic Church, I would say they are most likely invalid. Having not investigated them, I cannot call them demonic, but I will state emphatically that if one does not teach salvation by grace alone through faith alone and in Christ alone, then they are preaching another gospel and would not be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Also, having grown up in a major pentecostal denomination, I would put many of the alleged manifestations into the suspect category. That being said, if God does not change and the Holy Spirit definitely is God, then He can, according to the good pleasure of His will do as He pleases (but will never contradict what He has already revealed about Himself)

#24  Posted by David Madden  |  Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 2:59 AM

Then you must agree that the appearance of tongues are a sign of God´s coming wrath and judgement as Paul makes clear 1 Corinthians 14:21-22, by citing Isaiah chapter 28. If Paul understood these, which first appeared in Jerusalem, as a sign of God´s coming wrath upon Jerusalem and Judea, to whom are the modern tongues a sign of God´s coming wrath?

#30  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 11:41 AM

I can't say the Holy Spirit could not enable a Roman Catholic to speak in tongues or prophesy. Balaam prophesied by the Spirit of God. Was he regenerated? In Matthew 7, we read that some will come to Christ and tell him that they had prophesied in His name and in His name had cast out devils, and in His name had done many wonderful works. Jesus called casting out demons a miracle. He indicated that Satan could not cast out Satan, and asked by what means the Pharisees children had cast out demons. If the Pharisees followers could cast out demons, perform a miracle, why couldn't a Roman Catholic speak in tongues or prophesy?

Faith is an issue of the heart. A man can have faith in Christ even if his church's doctrinal statement contains error in regard to salvation by faith. And it doesn't make sense to me if a Protestant would read pre-Reformation history with the idea that certain Christian authors were saved even if they were in the RCC, but consider all RCC folks alive today to be damned. I suspect the Charismatic movement has done quite a bit to open the hearts of RCC members to the evangelical doctrine of salvation.

#31  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 11:49 AM

David Madden, isn't that a rather convoluted way of interpreting Paul's reference to Isaiah in I Corinthians 14? Besides, your facts are wrong. The passage he references is about the judgment on the northern kingdom, not Jerusalem. And the Jews of Paul's day that were identified as Jews in that region were primarily descendants from the southern kingdom. The northern kingdom was carried away into captivity and transported to places in modern day Iran and Afghanistan the last we read in scripture.

What is the 'sign' that tongues fulfills in the passage? A sign can be a fulfilled prophecy, and the prophecy that is fulfilled through speaking in tongues is that when God speaks through men of other tongues and other lips, as He says, "and yet for all that, they would not hear Me."

During the captivity, the speakers of a foreign tongue, probably Aramaic, took Israel off captive. "Get back in line. March!", or whatever they said. Israel would not hear.

In the last days, God, by His Spirit, empowers men to speak in tongues, and this sign is fulfilled again in another way. Now, as Paul explains in his specific example where he interprets what he means by quoting Isaiah, if an unbeliever or unlearned person comes into a church gather and all speak in tongues, won't he say, "Ye are mad"?

He responds to speaking in tongues in unbelief, just like the passage Paul quotes from Isaiah predicts. See also the scoffers at Pentecost in Acts 2.

#37  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 1:17 PM

Link, your comment seems to miss the entire point. The question is not whether God can perform a miracle through an unbeliever to accomplish His unique purposes at a particular point in time. The issue is whether those who profess a false gospel and pray to false gods (Mary and the saints) have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them as a guarantee of their future inheritance.

It is true that someone could hold a different doctrine than their church, but a true believer (and certainly not millions of them as a group) can continue to unabashedly identify themselves as members of a false church that teaches a false gospel.

On another point, "RCC folks" aren't damned, they are unbelievers if they hold to the teaching of their church. They need the gospel preached to them. Almost every ex-Catholic I know came to Christ and left Catholicism when they started either reading the Scripture or having it taught to them by non-Catholic. The Roman Catholic Church does not need charismatic doctrine added to their system, they need the gospel preached so that the people within the system can come out.

#38  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 1:26 PM

Gabriel Powell, I can think of one Charismatic Catholic I've met. He's was a politician, and it wasn't in a church context. But I've met a number of Pentecostals and Charismatics who used to be Roman Catholic. It seems like a lot of RCC Charismatics do leave the RCC and go to non RCC churches over time.

#40  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 1:49 PM

"It seems like a lot of RCC Charismatics do leave the RCC and go to non RCC churches over time."

If that's the case, then we should all be grateful! No doubt there are ex-RCC in every denomination and church. But let us remember to give credit where credit is due... the gospel alone saves someone, not the spread of charismatic doctrine.

#44  Posted by Cameron Buettel  |  Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 9:00 PM

Link, as best as I can recall the stats were 120 million charismatic Catholics. That's about one in four charismatics globally. So it looks like there are still plenty of them.

#46  Posted by David Madden  |  Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 12:35 AM

My understanding is not convoluted in any way. It is the meaning that Paul gives. I am not alone in this understanding. Many others read these verses the same way. In fact, I daresay, any serious student of Biblical prophecy and history can see clearly that Isaiah 28 refers to the Roman invasion, just as Paul tells us.

Your confusion as to what event Isaiah 28 refers arises from the nature of Old-Testament prophecy. A false-prophet was to be killed. So, we find many prophecies where prophecies of later events would be couched or hidden in prophecies of events soon to come to pass. We also see prophecies that were general and a little vague so as to apply to 2 very similar events, which is what we have in Isaiah 28.

You only assume that Isaiah 28 refers to the Assyrians and to Ephraim in the time of Isaiah because that invasion was close in time to the prophecy. And it could be said to refer to the Assyrians. However, it applies much more exactly to the Romans. Vespasian lands at Caesaria with 2 legions and is later joined by his son Titus with 2 more from Egypt. Rather than march directly on Jerusalem, he razes much of the countryside, the towns and villages, of northern Palestine, starting in Galilee, which was, in the time of Isaiah, Ephraim. And this would be the same route that the Assyrians took to Jerusalem, except that the Assyrians would have come from the northeast in to the valleys of Galilee rather than from the coast to the west.

Notice the proclamation against Jerusalem in Isaiah 28. The Assyrians besieged Jerusalem, unsuccessfully. We know what happened there under Vespasian. It was horrible. Finally, note Isaiah 28:16 "Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste." This is a clear reference to the Messiah. Isaiah is talking, in this prophecy, about wrath for killing the Messiah. He says, in verse 15, that they have made a covenant with death. So we know here that Isaiah 28 is in reference to Vespasian and not the Assyrians. Thus we also know, from Paul´s remark, that the tongues of Pentecost were a sign of the fulfillment of the prophecy.

Also note that the invasion is called a flood. If you study prophecy carefully, you will see this metaphor used on several occasions for an invasion of Israel and an attempt to destroy the nation and the Jewish people. See Revelations 12:15-16 for an example, where the dragon casts forth a flood to destroy the woman, Israel, who produced the Messiah. I would argue that Revelations 12:15-16 also refers to this same Roman invasion.

Please note also Deuteronomy 28:49

#69  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 11:46 PM

I know others interpret Paul's comments that way. People do copy other people's interpretations quite a bit.

Using the arguing of coming judgment to argue for cessationism is a convoluted way of reading the passage. Paul explains his point. He quotes, 'and yet for all that, they will not hear Me' and illustrates his point by giving an example. When the unbeliever or unlearned enter and hear all speak with tongues, they ask if the are mad. They respond with unbelief. Even though there is speaking in tongues, "and yet for all that, they will not hear Me."

When would the Israelites from the Northern Kingdom have heard these men of other tongues and other lips? Was it only before their cities were razed? They would heard them more afterwards, and throughout the centuries as they were surrounded by speakers of a foreign language.

Unless the northern tribes assimilated with the Southern tribes against without letting us know, they are still in captivity to this day. When did the judgment ever end?

I do consider it a convoluted interpretation when people read this passage and say that for there to be speaking in tongues, Jews have to be present. Paul quoted the verse and applied it to the unlearned or unbeliever who enters the meeting of the church, and he doesn't specify Jews.

And I certainly don't see any argument here for cessationism since Israel is still under judgment. Those who have returned to the land are constantly under threat, and as a whole, the nation has not received her Messiah.

I suspect those who originated the approach to trying to squeeze a cessationist argument out of this verse believed in replacement theology. If they believed God would have no more dealings with Israel and that the church was the new Israel, I suppose they could try to squeeze this idea out of the verse. But for those of us who believe that the physical nation of Israel is still beloved for the sakes of the patriarchs and that God still has a plan for Israel, this cessationist interpretation should make no sense at all. There are still Jews.

#79  Posted by Matthew Bigelow  |  Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 1:26 PM

Link Hudson,

There is a problem with your argument. It is the non-sequitor falacy. You are taking the sign of Judgment to the Jewish nation and linking it with Paul's explanation for the need of an interpreter of tongues.

Paull very clearly states that tongues are a sign for the Jew, and the Gentile believers speaking in tongues is a fulfilment of that prophecy. How is it that Jewish believers know the Gentile believers are speaking in tongues? Because they understand what Gentiles, who do not speak the language and dialects of the Jewish believers, are saying! Paul correctly applies the judgment against Israel to the gift of tongues. That's where that arguement stops.

Allow me to back track a little here and talk about why Paul spends so much time on tongues and prophecy among all the gifts (pneumaticas).

The Corinthian church, with their many spiritual problems (being accepting of man sleeping with his father's wife, drunkeness and glottony during the Lord's table, withhold sex from the spouse, etc), had a problem with the spiritual gifts. As such Paul spends what amounts to three lengthy chapters on the subject and specifically on tongues and prophecy. What is the purpose of the gifts (whether charismaticas or pneumaticas)? They were given to deify the body, to build each other up in the body of Christ. Specifically Paul is refering to church leadership in Ephesians 4:12 but it ties it into to those of the rest of the flock in verses 13-16. He alludes to it in Romans 12:3-5, and expands this thought in 1 Corinthians 12. So the gifts are not for personal edification, but for the edification of others, to strengthen the body of Christ.

With an interlude about love in chapter 13, and with the thought of the edification of the body of Christ, Paul begins to speak about toungues, interpretation of tongues and prophecy in 1 Corinthians 14. The purpose of speaking in tongues without an interpretaion of toungues is self-edification, though this is actually a selfish, latent manifestation of speaking in tongues and not its primary purpose. In fact, the only person who is edified by a tongue without interpretation is the speaker, which Paul rebukes.

After he corrects them about the use of tongues, then he talks about the judgment that tongues brings, and he quotes Isaiah 28:11. And so "tongues are for a sign for those that believe not." The unbelieving are the Jews, not the Gentiles, for believing Gentiles who are speaking in tongues are fulfilling the judgment to unbelieving Jews. Thus the purpose for tongues are two-fold, to fulfill prophecy to unbelieving Israel and to edify the body of Christ.

And what should happen if a Gentile unbeliever came in and heard everyone speaking in another language but there's no interpretation? "You're all mad!" would be his response, just like at Pentacost. If they aren't speaking a Gentile language, then what language are they speaking? Probably one a Jew would understand.

#81  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 2:03 PM

There is a problem with your argument. It is the non-sequitor falacy. You are taking the sign of Judgment to the Jewish nation and linking it with Paul's explanation for the need of an interpreter of tongues.

Paull very clearly states that tongues are a sign for the Jew, and the Gentile believers speaking in tongues is a fulfilment of that prophecy. How is it that Jewish believers know the Gentile believers are speaking in tongues? Because they understand what Gentiles, who do not speak the language and dialects of the Jewish believers, are saying! Paul correctly applies the judgment against Israel to the gift of tongues. That's where that arguement stops.

Allow me to back track a little here and talk about why Paul spends so much time on tongues and prophecy among all the gifts (pneumaticas).

The Corinthian church, with their many spiritual problems (being accepting of man sleeping with his father's wife, drunkeness and glottony during the Lord's table, withhold sex from the spouse, etc), had a problem with the spiritual gifts. As such Paul spends what amounts to three lengthy chapters on the subject and specifically on tongues and prophecy. What is the purpose of the gifts (whether charismaticas or pneumaticas)? They were given to deify the body, to build each other up in the body of Christ. Specifically Paul is refering to church leadership in Ephesians 4:12 but it ties it into to those of the rest of the flock in verses 13-16. He alludes to it in Romans 12:3-5, and expands this thought in 1 Corinthians 12. So the gifts are not for personal edification, but for the edification of others, to strengthen the body of Christ.

With an interlude about love in chapter 13, and with the thought of the edification of the body of Christ, Paul begins to speak about toungues, interpretation of tongues and prophecy in 1 Corinthians 14. The purpose of speaking in tongues without an interpretaion of toungues is self-edification, though this is actually a selfish, latent manifestation of speaking in tongues and not its primary purpose. In fact, the only person who is edified by a tongue without interpretation is the speaker, which Paul rebukes.

#82  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Matthew Bigelow wrote,

>>After he corrects them about the use of tongues, then he talks about the judgment that tongues brings, and he quotes Isaiah 28:11.<<<

Notice that Paul says nothing about tongues bringing judgment before he quotes Isaiah. The theme he's addressing is that speaking in tongues builds up the speaker, he gives thanks well, but it doesn't edify anyone else unless it is interpreted.

I read Paul's quote from Isaiah as a point he makes to build up this same argument about how speaking in tongues does not edify others without interpretation. I don't see Paul as suddenly jumping to the theme of judgment on Israel, something he does not mention either before or after mentioning Isaiah.

And sometimes apostles will quote a passage from the Old Testament to get a tiny point out of it, without trying to point to to other themes in that passage. Take, for example, the quote in Romans 9 where Paul quotes Hosea, "and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said to them, ye are not my people, there shall they be called the people of the living God." If you read the quote in Hosea without reading Romans, you'd interpret it to refer specifically to Israel, but Paul's usage of the quote applies also to Gentiles. If you were to try to tie it to the Hosea passage as closely to the passage as you do this quote from Isaiah, you'd be mistaken.

In I Corinthians 14, Paul lets us know how he's using the quote from Isaiah. Back then, God spoke through men of 'other tongues and other lips' and the unbelieving people wouldn't here. Now, when God empowers people to speak in tongues, unbelieving people still on't hear God.

In his example, he speaks of an unbeliever coming into their assembly. He doesn't limit it to Jews. Unbelieving Gentiles can respond to speaking in tongues just as unbelieving Jews do.

And clearly, an unbeliever, Jew or Gentile, doesn't have to come into the meetings, and don't need to be present to scoff in order for speaking in tongues to function.

#83  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 2:04 PM

>>And so "tongues are for a sign for those that believe not." The unbelieving are the Jews, not the Gentiles, for believing Gentiles who are speaking in tongues are fulfilling the judgment to unbelieving Jews. Thus the purpose for tongues are two-fold, to fulfill prophecy to unbelieving Israel and to edify the body of Christ.<<

If you see it that way, functionally, it might not be a big problem for the gift operating, as long as you don't take the leap to say the gift ended at some past point of judgment of the Jews and that God is done dealing with them. I'm not against the idea that speaking in tongues (or even preaching the Gospel to Jews in languages with the understanding) is also a fulfillment of the prophecy. But in the specific context, we need to recognize that the point he is drawing out of the passage is about unbelievers, not Jews per se.

>>And what should happen if a Gentile unbeliever came in and heard everyone speaking in another language but there's no interpretation? "You're all mad!" would be his response, just like at Pentacost.<<

So you aren't saying that the unlearned or unbeliever in Paul's example has to be Jewish? Your interpretation in your last message is about Isaiah as it applies to speaking in tongues, and not Paul's example in the text?

>> If they aren't speaking a Gentile language, then what language are they speaking? Probably one a Jew would understand.<<<

In I Corinthians, when a man speaks in tongues, 'no one understandeth him'. God arranged it so that the native language of the listeners and what they heard from those speaking in tongues were the same languages in Acts 2. Apparently, He wasn't doing that in the church of Corinth. There are lots of Gentile langauges. If I speak in Indonesian, chances are a Chinaman or a Hottentot wouldn't understand me.

#190  Posted by David Frazier  |  Monday, October 19, 2015 at 10:39 AM

@David Madden Please stop saying "Revelations." The book is called The Revelation (Apokolupsis) of Jesus Christ. It's kind go hard to take you seriously as a Bible teacher when you repetitively do this.

#3  Posted by John Fast  |  Monday, November 3, 2014 at 7:50 AM

Sadly, the challenge issued here will meet with as much success as Phil Johnson's challenge to Michael Brown. As you pointed out charismatic theology is a theology where subjective personal experience trumps the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. As such it is an error that cannot help but defend and support the errors of others because it cannot call into question the experience of others without raising suspicion of its own experience. It cannot deny the legitimacy of someone else's mystical personal revelation without calling into question it's own legitimacy. As long as a person believes they are being led by direct revelation from God they will be impervious to correction, no matter how bazaar and unbiblical it makes their beliefs and conduct. Just like the false prophets of Israel who misrepresented the products of their own imagination as revelation from God (Jer 23:16-32) charismatic theology leads people away from God's word, not to God's word (Jer 23:27). It teaches people to rely on their own subjective experience instead of Scripture, or even worse, to rely on the message God is supposedly relaying to the leader. Denials that someone's private revelation from God is equal with Scripture are rampant within the charismatic community, but usually when anyone questions the validity of someone's experience, or even refutes their experience with Scripture, they are accused of trying to "put God in a box", thereby revealing that at least the person having the experience believes his/her experience is as, or more, authoritative than Scripture. If God is still giving revelation today shouldn't we accept the Book of Mormon as genuine revelation from God? On what basis do Christians who claim to receive extra-biblical revelation from God reject the claims of Mormonism?

God has made it very clear that He takes being misrepresented very seriously. His denunciation of those who would claim that God has spoken when He has not shows how seriously He takes being misrepresented. Charismatic theology is not only strange fire, but a condemning fire that can only destroy those who embrace it. It leads people away from God, not to Him.

#34  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 12:26 PM

John Fast, there is a problem with your post. The New Testament doesn't teach that God only speaks through scripture. It teaches something quite contrary to that. The New Testament teaches that the manifestion of the Spirit called prophecy is given as the Spirit wills. It says the same regarding the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, tongues, and interpretation of tongues in I Corinthians 14.

I Corinthians 14 gives 'commandments of the Lord' for church meetings. Some commentators read that and focus on instructions for women. But there are more commandments than that. There is a command to let 'every one of you' sing, teach, share a tongue, revelation or interpretation. There are specific commands about speaking in tongues. The church is commanded to allow the prophets to speak two or three. '...ye may all prophesy'. The passage also says to covet to prophesy.

Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians "Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things. Hold fast to that which is good." Cessationists typically disobey the first command. If you have a belief that God does not communicate outside of scripture, then how can you not deny at least some prophesyings?

And the definition of prophesying that some in the Reformed tradition hold to is not the Biblical one. I Corinthians 12 shows us that teachers and prophets are different roles. Romans 12 shows that prophesying, teaching, and exhorting are different gifts. See also I Cor. 14:26. In the Bible, prophesying is often spoken first person as from the Lord. Agabus said, "Thus saith the Holy Ghost..." Teachers teach on principle that have already been revealed.

What the Spirit reveals now is not contrary to the Gospel and is in line with it. A lot of evangelicals believe that God can call a man to preach-- to communicate with him that he is called to preach without this fact being specified in scripture. I read in a John MacArthur sermon that he said that he was called to preach. If he means that in the standard evangelical way, isn't this claiming direct personal revelation, extrabiblical revelation from God? I can't find a chapter that says that JM was called to preach, or John Calvin, or Charles Spurgeon, or Billy Graham, or any modern local church pastor. If someone who professes cessationism can accept that God can communicate to an individual that he is called to preach, why not some other bit of direction for his life or some other prophecy?

#35  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 12:35 PM

I forgot to mention this. 'Prove all things' implies we need to judge prophecies. The Bible warns of false prophets. Why would a charismatic accept the prophesies of a polygamist who marries married women, who said and angel with a flaming sword told him to be polygamous, who believes in multiple gods? The Bible teaches that there are true prophecies and false prophecies, true prophets and false prophets. It was like that in the time of Christ and throughout the first century, and it is still that way now that we are still in the last days.

The two witnesses will prophesy and do miracles and the blood of prophets is found in Babylon. But there is also the false prophet. We see this in Revelation. It doesn't make sense for cessationists with a futuristic interpretation of these events in Revelation to be a cessationist when it comes to the gift of prophecy. It forces the gift to cease and then restart with no Biblical support for the idea that the gift will shut down and restart.

I'm from a bit more Fundamentalist background than some charismatics. I was raised Pentecostal and was in a program where we had a lot of scripture memorization and churches emphasized the Bible. I have met Charismatics who don't seem to pay as much attention to the Bible, and yes I see that as a problem and it can definitely lead the error. But if some of them go off into error, that is no reason to reject what the Bible teaches about spiritual gifts being given to members of the body of Christ.

#75  Posted by Jason Larose  |  Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 8:12 AM

"Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians "Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things. Hold fast to that which is good." Cessationists typically disobey the first command. If you have a belief that God does not communicate outside of scripture, then how can you not deny at least some prophesyings?"

They only disobey the first command if they're despising actual prophesy. If a person believes that God does not communicate outside of scripture at this time and they are right, than anyone accepting modern "prophecy" is disobeying the second and third command and the cessationist is perfectly following every command in that verse (the first command would be impossible to disobey as there is no prophecy to despise [similar to periods before Jesus where Israel would have no prophets]).

There is also a difference between the conviction of the Holy Spirit (for instance, God communicating a calling for your life) and prophecy (speaking as a mouthpiece of God and with His authority).

Anyone claiming that you shouldn't trust the guidance of the Holy Spirit (both in scripture and personal convictions) is wrong. However, that's different from claiming that man today is speaking forth directly from God and should be treated on equal authority to scripture (prophecy).

All the more reason why this discussion is so important and that we make sure all those who value God's truth end up on the same page!

#80  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 1:36 PM

Jason Larose, the problem with that position is that the Bible teaches the church, the believers in the last days, that prophecy is a genuine gift. I Corinthians 12 shows us that the Spirit gives it to individuals in the body. I Thessalonians warns us not to despise prophesyings. Jesus also warned of false prophets. The instructions in I Thessalonians teach believers in Jesus, those who are a part of His church, how to approach prophesyings. We are forbidden from despising them.

If someone is a cessationist, how can he not despise prophesyings, or at least certain prophesyings, without going against his cessationist beliefs? Cessationism leads to disobedience to this verse when one encounters a prophecy (or at least one given in the Biblical format of being preceded by 'thus saith the Lord' or 'thus saith the Holy Ghost.')

I don't see a justification for a separate 'conviction' where God gives the individual specific direction for his life and that's okay. Do you think that God can give someone a 'conviction' that he is supposed to live in China until he is 30, and then move to Zimbabwe? Do you think God can give someone a 'conviction' that a stranger at a church meeting has a teenage friend named Toby who drives wild, and to pray for him. (I actually witnessed that once.) What's the difference between a 'conviction' and the gifts of the Spirit the Bible tells us are given to the saints?

If we reject all prophesyings, then we despise prophesyings. We are supposed to evaluate each individual prophecy, and 'prove all things.' Dismissing them all out of hand because of a cessationist belief system is disobedience to scripture.

The vast majority of people who believe in or practice prophesying, at least that I've encountered, don't believe they hold the same weight as scripture. Scripture has a universal applicability to the church. But the Bible alludes to many prophecies that it doesn't record. Those sons of the prophets around Elijah were doing something. Micaiah had apparently prophesied some things Ahab didn't like before the one occasion where we read about him prophesying Ahab's death. Samuel had a lot of prophecies that did not fall to the ground between his childhood and the time we see him again dealing with the nations desire to have a king. He'd probably helped people find lost articles before Saul's servant suggested consulting him about missing donkeys.

#4  Posted by David Snead  |  Monday, November 3, 2014 at 8:15 AM

I guess I'm not a charismatic, because none of that article applies to me except for the fact that I'm not a cessationist. I see a lot of straw-man arguments in this article.

Here's a point-by-point answer from a "non-cessationist":

1. I don't know the statistics. Maybe we Gospel-believing, scripture-loving, calling-out-and-denouncing-Benny-Hinn's-and-Joel-Osteen's, John-MacArthur-listening Charismatics ARE the fringe...

2. Ummm... We call DO them out (check this out and watch it to the end - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBGSecIiMiQ) , but I can't stop someone from going to someone else's "church". It's called the 1st Ammendment.

3. This is not one question but many different questions that deserve hours of discussion. I resolve to know Jesus Christ and Him crucified, buried, raised from the dead in three days, and ascended to the Father, making atonement for my sins.

4. Yes. Oneness Pentecostalism is heresy.

5. Of course "magic tricks" don't give any credence to anything. Why did you even ask?

6. No, the prosperity gospel is not biblical. Yes, it is under the curse of Galatians 1:8-9.

7. Those things are serious, and they still apply today, if only in the basic principle form. I don't not accept female pastors or more than one person speaking in tongues at a time. How do you deal with Paul commanding us not to prevent the speaking of tongues in our churches? (1 Corinthians 14:39) Does that still apply to you today?

8. If practiced biblically (which is, I admit, very rare...) it does go along with everything Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 12-14, so yes. Your follow-up question assumes a "no" answer, but I will answer it anyway. This dramatic difference is NOT accepted, and we regard those churches that practice unbiblical "speaking in tongues" as either faking it, or as having improper doctrine and practice with the gifts, as the church in Corinth did. Paul didn't say that they had illegitimate gifts; however, he told them that they were using them incorrectly.

9. Modern-day prophets should be held to the same standard as the Old Testament prophets. If someone claims to speak from the voice of God, it MUST be 100% accurate, otherwise, they are a false prophet. Anything else is unbiblical.

10. I just preached in my church in Ukraine the other day, and I can give you the audio. - http://scarletthreadmedia.com/Blog%20Uploads/MP3-Files/01-11-2014-thyatira.mp3 (fast-forward to 41:30 if you want to hear the Gospel message... I'm a missionary in Ukraine.)

#6  Posted by David Snead  |  Monday, November 3, 2014 at 9:03 AM

Oh - as a side not, I don't have influence over any "movement", and I don't claim that. I'm just saying with that last point that there are non-cessationists that preach the real Gospel.

#8  Posted by Jason Larose  |  Monday, November 3, 2014 at 10:03 AM

It seems perhaps you fall into the category of:

"In fact, if continuationism was the only issue in the charismatic movement that John MacArthur and the other Strange Fire speakers were concerned about, there likely never would have been a conference or a book to begin with."

I know personally I have no problem with someone who says "We were never given a precise date or even specific event of when the gifts would cease so they may still appear from time to time in the occasional instances where there is still need." In fact, I myself fall into this category, though I do believe that certain gifts have ceased simply due to them being perfected (for instance, those signs that were given to the apostles to validate their authority are no longer active).

To answer your questions:

"Of course "magic tricks" don't give any credence to anything. Why did you even ask?"

Because a large number of people claiming to be Christian also belong to congregations known for being slain in the spirit, angel feather manifestations, gold dust manifestations, "toking the spirit", etc..., etc... and even many congregations that don't personally participate in those activities will invite groups (such as Jesus Culture, School of Kingdom Ministry, etc...) who are organizationally under those congregations to teach classes or lead their worship.

Furthermore, if you haven't personally experienced anyone who claims that questioning such acts is doubting "great men of God" count yourself lucky! Even fairly moderate Pentecostals from the fellowship I used to attend would get bent out of shape when I mentioned such practices with anything but awe.

"Does that still apply to you today?"

Absolutely! I hope there's not a single church out there that would forbid someone who speaks another language than the one commonly spoken from providing insight (assuming each speaks one at a time and someone can interpret it).

We actually have a large group of Chinese speaking members at our local church. The sermons are provided in advance to a brother who translates the whole thing for those who aren't fluent in English and we have a few members who can interpret when one of these members wishes to speak. It would be awful to tell them than they need to learn English before they can participate in our fellowship!

However, what I think you're actually asking (disregard if you're not) is if it's wrong for people to speak out against "tongues" as they're redefined today. One experiment that I found very interesting which someone conducted was to go to a church that claimed to "interpret" their tongues and say the Lord's Prayer in Latin. The interpreter translated it to something like "God loves us!" if I recall. That's not real interpretation (God wouldn't be confused by Latin), and therefore they are not really speaking in tongues as they were in the early church.

#9  Posted by Cameron Buettel  |  Monday, November 3, 2014 at 10:15 AM

David, thank you for taking the time to respond point by point. I appreciate your forthrightness on most of your answers. I will point out that the questions raised would be straw-men if you represented the mainstream of the charismatic movement. But sadly, as you confessed, you are on the fringe. I'll respond to your points one by one.

1. Compelling statistical evidence was put forward at, and after, the Strange Fire conference that prosperity theology and bizarre manifestations overwhelmingly dominate the charismatic movement globally. These assertions were met with howls of protest but no substantive argument. Books have even been written rejecting our data but again only anecdotally. So the burden of proof still lays on the shoulders of those charismatic leaders.

2. I applaud what Scott did in that video but I don't think I would class Calvary Chapel as charismatic. They are continuationist. Furthermore, Scott's actions in that video gained a lot of traction precisely because it was so rare and out of the ordinary. Find me other examples of this, particularly on the dominant Charismatic TV networks like TBN and GOD TV. Charismatic leaders continue to dodge the question and take responsibility. Also, we have argued here for the biblical responsibility to expose and repudiate false teachers. Here is one example http://www.gty.org/blog/B140218/naming-names?Term=naming names

3. This question is critically important and remains unanswered. Many could answer like you did and completely redefine their terms. There are charismatic leaders who need to either reject charismatic Catholics as a phony move of the Holy Spirit or embrace them and reject the gospel. They can't have it both ways and the silence has been deafening on this issue.

4. Just remember that T.D. Jakes dominates charismatic media, most of which professes Trinitarian orthodoxy. Once again they can't have it both ways and need to take a side.

5. Once again a question that needs to be asked because these shenanigans continue unabated with almost no opposition from the charismatic realm.

6. It would be great if charismatic leaders were as forthright as you on this issue and backed it up by refusing to associate with prosperity heretics. Unfortunately that is nowhere near the case.

7. Thank you for answering. I think you'll find that your position is a minority position in the charismatic world.

8. Your position is by your own admission "very rare," which again highlights the need to issue the challenge.

9. I agree with you. Unfortunately most charismatics, including Wayne Grudem, do not.

10. That challenge was issued to Michael Brown and it regarded specific people whose ministries he has defended. Thank you for the link and I'll give it a listen.

#10  Posted by Cameron Buettel  |  Monday, November 3, 2014 at 10:18 AM

David, unfortunately you don't have influence because your views are on the fringe - that only reinforces my basis for asking those questions. That there are non-cessationists who faithfully preach the gospel has never been in dispute and was actually affirmed during the Strange Fire conference.

#11  Posted by Conor O'Riordan  |  Monday, November 3, 2014 at 10:45 AM

Following on from my previous post Dr Brown says this regarding blog article the elephant in the strange fire as a whole :

Dr Brown " I saw the blog, but honestly, I can’t take this seriously. I’ve written an entire book refuting Strange Fire, John MacArthur has refused to meet with me in private or public, I was assured he’d write a thoughtful response to Authentic Fire, and one year later, nothing. When they want serious dialogue, I’m here."

#12  Posted by Cameron Buettel  |  Monday, November 3, 2014 at 10:57 AM

Michael Brown did not want to answer those questions in his book. It doesn't seem like he wants to answer them here. Brown's non-answer is an answer that only serves to validate the blog post in the first place.

#13  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Monday, November 3, 2014 at 11:28 AM

Conor,

Lyndon Unger and myself provided a chapter by chapter review of Authentic Fire that was detailed and interacted with Dr. Brown's material with thoughtful response. Links to the articles can be followed from my blog, http://hipandthigh.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/authentic-fire-review-links/

Of course, Dr. Brown blew it off because I guess he considered us small fish or not on his level or something. Honestly, he offered real no academic or serious dialogue with his book. It was quickly put together. Keener even admits in his appendix that he was writing it BEFORE the Strange Fire conference even took place. Brown offered no real response to any of the significant charges raised by SF. If anything, his endorsement of such personalities as Sid Roth and the Bethel Redding cult demonstrates a profound lack of discernment. So much for serious interaction.

#15  Posted by Conor O'Riordan  |  Monday, November 3, 2014 at 11:36 AM

Specifically in relation to Cameron's point ""in the immediate aftermath of Strange Fire, Phil Johnson made an appearance on Dr. Michael Brown’s radio program. Phil issued Brown a challenge—which Brown accepted—to produce any audio of Mike Bickle or someone of similar influence in the charismatic movement making a clear presentation of the gospel. We’re still waiting for that audio."

Dr Brown had this to say today "You’ve got to be kidding me. In my Authentic Fire book, I supplied numerous links to fine material from leading charismatic theologians and authors. This cannot be taken seriously."

Note : Dr Brown would be aware that I do not share his views .

#17  Posted by Cameron Buettel  |  Monday, November 3, 2014 at 11:55 AM

Still haven't received one single example in response to Phil Johnson's simple request. Furthermore, Dr. Brown said he would provide examples. Been waiting about a year on that one.

#23  Posted by David Snead  |  Monday, November 3, 2014 at 11:49 PM

Thank you for your detailed response to my response. :D That does answer another one of my main questions: Do you lump continuationists into the Charismatic movement? (Calvary Chapel, Mike MacIntosh, Mark Driscoll / Mars Hill Church, etc.)

It seems that you don't, and, if you aren't, then I'm jumping into someone else's fight.

#29  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 11:26 AM

Hi David, the individuals/churches you named aren't "charismatics" in the sense that they practice the unhindered expression of false gifts. Calvary Chapel, Sovereign Grace, and the now formerly Mars Hill churches seek to follow the guidelines of 1 Corinthians 14 carefully.

However, part of the message of Strange Fire is that by holding their continuationist position, they unwittingly give credence to the rest of charismania. While holding tight to the gospel and expositional preaching, they are usually very wary of calling out false expressions of charismatic practice. They tend to speak strongly against the false gospels present in many charismatic churches, but they soften their tone when speaking of the false manifestations of the Spirit in those same churches.

These churches are why Cameron writes that the continuationist position itself was not worth the book and conference; but the unhindered spread of false practices, to which these gospel-preaching churches give unwitting credibility, made the book and conference necessary.

#36  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 1:09 PM

When I was a teenager in the 1980's, I went to a few different Assemblies of God churches. (We moved from place to place.) I know for certain that one church taught that messages in tongues were expected to be interpreted, and that was the practice of one of the other church. The other one I went to, I can't remember a message in tongues there, but I only went there for a short while. The A/G is the largest Pentecostal denomination. There is probably some variety in practice on this issue and there is a lot of autonomy between churches, but I think the official stance is for tongues to be interpreted, probably in position papers and things of that nature. My experience is from the 1980s.

A lot of churches that believe in these gifts don't see a lot of display of tongues or prophecy on Sunday morning or other big services, anyway. And some of the churches that believe in spiritual gifts try to filter prophecies, etc. through the pastors. I don't see that as consistent with how I Corinthians 14 instructs prophesying be handled. Some Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Continuationist churches seem to err on the side of too much restriction of the gifts, IMO.

#41  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 2:38 PM

Link, I appreciate your experience but that is irrelevant. There are no doubt thousands of people who could share their experiences of Pentecostal and charismatic churches that aren't heretical or off-the-wall in their practices. Not just in the 80's, but even today.

In some those kinds of churches I'm aware of, it's clear that there's an intentional move away from public expressions of the gifts for pragmatic purposes. They want to appeal to unbelievers, and make unbelievers feel comfortable, so they reduce or remove what would otherwise be uncomfortable. That's the effect of the church growth movement on some charismatic churches.

What really matters is not my experience, or yours, or that of a thousand others. What matters is who are the national and international representatives and promoters of charismatic theology? Answer: false apostles, false prophets, and purveyors of a false gospel. Again, look at church sizes, book sales, media and social media platforms. There are ways to measure these things.

#68  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 11:34 PM

There are probably millions of blogs on the Internet. Is there any evidence that Michael Brown read your blog to enable him to consider whether you were 'small fish' or not?

#74  Posted by Jason Larose  |  Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 7:53 AM

I agree with the "too much restriction" if they actually believe they are gifts of the Spirit the way the Bible describes them. For instance, as long as a person is providing godly messages (I.E. not a false prophet) preventing some of their messages from being spoken to the intended audience would be no different from those who killed or exiled God's prophets in the Old Testiment simply because they didn't like their message.

However, the environment with which many of these congregations are operating in does not accept that any spiritual gift is solely of God (though they will claim to). The one with which I was active for 2 years regularly taught that there was a learning curve and that we sometimes needed to step out and "try on" some tongues or prophecy because it was the only way to perfect the skill (this is what is being taught by IHOP regarding prophecy as well). The "gifts" are relagated to "skills" that a person must learn, instead of a special gift divinely and perfectly granted by the Holy Spirit.

The reason is obvious. These "gifts" are fabrications of the human mind (similar to the many false prophets in the Bible who told the itching ears what they wanted to hear instead of actually speaking for God) and the behavior must be "learned" since it's a behavior.

How many of the "divinely empowered" interpreters in these congregations would accurately respond properly to a message given in an actual language, that they wouldn't recognize is a language, if they didn't know they were being tested?

If the gift is a specific "angelic tongue interpretation" their response should be "I don't know what this guy is saying" and if it is all languages they should be able to give the exact interpretation. Instead, a guy performed exactly this test and the people go right on "interpreting" into church friendly messages like "God is good" (when they actually recited the Lord's Prayer in Latin).

That, when combined with the historical understanding that the explaination of angelic/personal prayer languages was the last bastion of a trans-generational backpedal that started with people actually claiming to speak known languages supernaturally (MacAurthur does a good job of documenting the history in Strange Fire), lends a great deal of credibility to the belief that some of the Spiritual gifts are no longer in operation (or at least most of the claims of them are false).

When the messages are simply what comes to someone's mind (I.E. the "prophesies" where someone has a windmill come to mind and claims that it was God's way of saying that some are being carried by every wind of doctrine) they may still say something Biblical, but there's no more promise of that than any other message given by anyone.

#76  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 1:02 PM

I was raised in the Pentecostal movement and never heard an emphasis on 'tongues of angels.' I may have heard it mentioned if someone taught on I Corinthians 13. I think it's more of a Charismatic emphasis. I did hear the idea of tongues being actual languages taught in church. That was more the emphasis of early Pentecostals.

But is a new emphasis in this area evidence that some spiritual gifts are not in operation? That's not a logical conclusion. It's like saying kangaroos don't exist because you've never seen one with your own eyes.

The fact that there are so many accounts and testimonies of one person speaking in tongues and another understanding in his or her own language is evidence that there is genuine speaking in tongues. I wouldn't think that everyone claiming to speak in tongues is actually operating in the gift. But I do believe the gift exist. I know two people who've experienced other people understanding them speak in tongues. There were apparently a number of occurrences of this at the Azusa Street Revival. There is a YouTube interview, probably from the 70's of a couple of elderly folks who were there and one of them commented that what drew the crowds were the people hearing their own languages. Another interview on YouTube tells of a specific occurrence of this at a Pentecostal meeting around that time, where the African man heard the message and the interpretation and understood and both and confirmed the accuracy of the interpretation.

A book by Paul Harris, which may still be available online, entitled Spoken by the Spirit records 70 accounts of other people understanding speaking in tongues and similar events. It's from back in 1971. These are testimonies. You may find a better documented account of an event at a Lutheran seminary. I'm not sure if I can post links. There is an online article for this entitled 'LCMS Post Cessation Theology: Xenolalia at Concordia Theological Seminary Springfield' a link to which is posted on the Facebook discussion forum Cessationism v. Continuationism forum on Facebook, posted September 7.

#77  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 1:18 PM

I'm alarmed by some of the teachings on 'stepping out' and prophesying. Stepping out in faith only makes sense if the gift is really in operation and someone is timid, not something someone should do to make the gift happen out of their own power. And false prophecy is a serious thing. There was a death penalty for it in the Old Testament.

But a lot of prophecies and words of knowledge are more than just imagination or guesswork. A number of them are obviously supernatural in nature. My wife and I were preparing to start some international ministry, and a preacher who didn't know us at a conference prophesied about our ministering to internationals just as we were preparing to do this. There are those times you go one place and one person prophesies something to you, and you go elsewhere and someone else prophesies the same thing. There are prophesies that answer your thoughts you just thought, and prophecies that assume personal knowledge about you given by someone who doesn't know these things.

As someone whose received words knowledge, I know I'm not just reading people for clues. Mine have often happened when I'm praying with someone and I start praying about a detail that I could not naturally know about. It has surprised some people at times.

There are also people who both get the same interpretation for the same tongue. I have known a couple of people who testified to that. One was my college roommate, so I got to spend a lot of time around him and know what kind of person he was. There are also those who both get the same prophecy and one shares it before another. I've also been in a situation where I get a word of knowledge about someone and someone else gives a prophecy that tells what I just got.

#78  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 1:26 PM

I was at a conference a week ago. My wife and I asked a pastor to pray for us during the break. There was a lot of that going on, people praying with and for each other. He asked to be prayed for to. I got a word of knowledge. He was in a situation like Moses where he had a lot on him and there needed to be more leaders. My wife prayed first, and starts praying about the same stuff, Moses and all that. I thought, okay, now what am I going to pray about. :) I went ahead and prayed about the areas that had been brought to my attention. The man didn't tell me. After we were done praying, he told us that he had two major areas where he was praying, and one had to do with the leadership area we'd prayed for.

Several of us were waiting during the break to talk with a Christian businessman and pastor who'd shared a testimony. While waiting, I got to know a gentleman from Hong Kong. When he spoke with the other gentleman, he explained to him that he'd tried to invest in companies that followed Biblical principles (honesty, treating workers ethically, etc.) and three had paid off, so he'd retired. The other man told him we should see our labor as worship and that there is no retirement in the kingdom, which he accepted. He also asked him how to hear God.

I spoke with him afterward. I'd asked the Lord if there was something He wanted to show me about the man. I got 'Northern China', those two words, and decided to ask the man about it. As were talking, I asked him if he had any investment projects going. He said he did. I asked him about 'northern China' and he was totally shocked and astounded. He was trying to put together a kind of exchange in such a way to help small farmers get a decent price for their produce in two provinces in northern China. He acted so shocked. I thought the 'word' I'd shared was really a small thing, but to him it was a big deal. I shared with him out of Proverbs 3 that if he didn't 'hear God' he could still trust God to direct His paths by doing what this passage said. (Some Charismatics hear testimonies of the Lord directing in specific ways and thing it has to happen that way every time.) He ended up getting a prophecy that told him to do what was in his heart, don't just talk or wonder about it before the conference was over.

This isn't the most detailed or shocking example of a spiritual gift I've witnessed, but I've seen the Lord minister through people in this way quite often. I don't know why believers would only want a tiny portion of the way scripture teaches the Lord operates to be active in the lives of believers instead of being open to all of it.

#88  Posted by Jason Larose  |  Friday, November 7, 2014 at 8:36 AM

Tongues (as properly defined) is a gift I personally refuse to make a call on. The gift was at one time a sign to Jews but it was also a practical evangelism tool to any unbeliever (1 Corinthians 14:22). I've heard plenty of friend of a friend accounts of it still functioning, but also heard may accounts of people researching such accounts by questioning others present and finding them to be gross exaggerations until all of that becomes "he said, she said".

The result of my research on 1 Cor. 13:8 is that I believe each gift listed will end precisely when it is no longer needed (the perfect being the perfection/completion of the gift itself). Tongues may still be useful in rare, unpredictable witnessing situations and the only proof text regarding the end of gifts basically says we can expect it to end when it's not needed.

My personal experiences is that people who claim to possess this spiritual gift are grossly misrepresenting it and I've yet to experience the actual gift in operation today (and as I said, the friend of a friend accounts end up being a he said/she said situation). As such, I'm inclined to believe that, for the most part, there is already a believer in nearly every tongue (Rev. 5:9) who can witness to others or at the very least those who speak a similar language who could learn the new dialect and that the gift is largely perfected but I'm willing to conceed that there may be some rare occation where it is necessary and would surface.

The way a majority who "practice tongues" do so is completely contrary to the definition in scripture and leans heavily on the misinterpretation of 1 Cor. 13:1(angelic tongues) or 1 Cor. 14:28(personal prayer language). It's impressive you have not experienced these. I have absolutely no problem stating that these are fabrications and are verifiably harmful toward spiritual growth (as it encourages mysticism).

Prophecy I'm more confident is not around. Every account of modern "prophecy" I've ever heard is not taken (even by those who believe it is prophecy) as equal to scripture, but if a person is truly "speaking forth" the Word of God it is equal to scripture and relagating it to any lesser standard is entirely inappropriate.

The destructive effect accepting most of what gets passed off as prophecy (besides innocuous repetition of Biblical truth, which would be closer to the gift of teaching if anything [unless God is repeating Himself I guess]) would have on the church is enough reason to approach that posibility with adequate scepticism.

#89  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Friday, November 7, 2014 at 12:02 PM

I think you may have some wrong assumptions about speaking in tongues. Why would the presence of a believer in every language group (if that were the case) have anything to do with there not being a need for speaking in tongues. Are you aware that there is no clear example of anyone actually explaining the Gospel in tongues in the Bible? In Acts 2, some in the crowd heard the disciples speaking of the wonderful works of God. But 3000 were saved after Peter stood and preached the Gospel, apparently with his understanding in some language the crowd could understand.

In I Corinthians 14, Paul writes of the one who speaks in tongues, "...no man understandeth him." He went on to explain the case for the need for interpretation of tongues to edify the church. This contradicts the idea that speaking in tongues, if genuine, must be used to preach the Gospel to those who speak languages you do not naturally know. We don't even have a clear case of this in Acts 2 or any other passage of scripture. Paul's comment in I Corinthians 14 would indicate that it is not normative that tongues be used this way, though God is sovereign, of course.

#90  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Friday, November 7, 2014 at 12:03 PM

I don't see why you'd write off the gift of prophecy either. The Bible specifically commands 'despise not prophesyings.' When we see in scripture how the Spirit interacts with those who minister the Gospel, he told Peter to go with certain men sent from Cornelius. The Spirit told Philip to go near a chariot in the desert. The Spirit of Jesus forbade Paul's and his team from preaching in Asia, and he had a vision that led him to Macedonia.

Regarding prophecy, we see that Agabus prophesied Paul's sufferings and Paul said that in every city, the Spirit warned him of hardship that awaited in Jerusalem. He probably had heard multiple prophecies before Agabus. The Spirit spoke when Paul and Barnabas were sent out, and Timothy received a gift through prophecy with the laying on of hands of the elders. Where does the Bible teach that the Spirit has stopped leading (or empowering) the ministers of the Gospel this way, or that He will no longer choose to do so on occasion?

There are still people in ministry today. Why would prophecy cease? As for whether prophecies are equal to scripture, why does that matter so much? Most of the objections to the ongoing gift of prophecy are based on extra-Biblical doctrinal statements that don't really come from the Bible in the first place. We don't want to 'go beyond the scriptures' But Paul wrote that during a time when there were prophets receiving revelations. He'd address that several chapters later. Revelation we receive must be in line with previous revelation. Paul prayed that the saints might receive the Spirit of revelation, so He was in favor of revelation, and not against it.

The scripture is full of prophecies, but not all prophecies went in scripture back when they were being written. If you want to argue that a genuine prophecy has as much authority, I can see why you would say that. You'd be violating a lot of extra-Biblical doctrinal statements to assert such a thing. The difference is that we know that the Bible is genuine and that it is for the edification of the whole church. We are to judge prophecies and they may only be for an individual or a smaller group. The idea of prophecies somehow being a challenge to the Bible is not part of the 'faith once delivered to the saints.' Nor are the doctrines used on this website to prop up cessationism.

#91  Posted by Jason Larose  |  Friday, November 7, 2014 at 12:42 PM

Both instances where the church is recorded as speaking in tongues were to witness. Perhaps they proclaimed wonderful works of God other than Christ and his Kingdom. However, it's not like people were given the gift to sit around talking about the weather or to talk in languages nobody understood because "reasons".

In 1 Corinthians 14 when Paul is talking about nobody understanding a man he is doing so negatively. If there is nobody around to interpret the language your speaking you're not to speak because it's pointless. That's why he commands that a man pray for an interpreter so that he can participate in the teaching of the church even though he's not speaking a language others can understand.

There's nothing edifying about tongues, which is why an interpreter is required to put other languages into common vernacular if a person speaking another language wishes to be edifying to the body. After all, the gift of tongues is for unbelievers, not believers. This is why Paul told them to desire prophecy, because that is edifying to the church.

#92  Posted by Jason Larose  |  Friday, November 7, 2014 at 2:26 PM

Prophecy was ultimately the source of all scripture. God's Word was coming through man and becoming the written Word. Obviously, not all prophecies were recorded but there is no logical reason to conclude that this prophecy would have less authority than what was recorded when everyone is speaking directly for God (is there times when God has less authority?)

I think you're right, some were likely not recorded due to the scope of the message. In fact, that was likely always the reason. However, that doesn't mean it didn't have the same weight or authority. In all cases, people should have treated it like it was God speaking directly to them (because true prophecy was).

However, prophecy isn't just a conviction or feeling you have (though the Holy Spirit does guide us in this way, and this guidance is absolutely vital to Christian living and should be trusted). It is literally God speaking through you to others (2 Peter 1:21). When you have this gift, you are operating as the mouthpiece of God. Nobody was stoned in the Old Testament for feeling like someone had a friend named Todd when they didn't. That sort of thing wouldn't be considered false prophecy unless you claimed that God said that person had a friend named Todd.

When we start saying "God said" to describe our convictions we start taking our own intuition (which may be based upon sound, God given knowledge) and putting it on the same authority as God's Word. It's very popular now and people do it all the time. For instance, it's not uncommon for Beth Moore to start explaining guidance she received with a statement like "And God said to me, 'Girl, you...'"

The effect of these sorts of lines being blurred is widespread belief that many self-proclaimed "prophets" speak with the authority of God when they do not. Some (most?) of these people honestly believe that what they're feeling constitutes a direct correction or command from God and they presume to speak in his place. Some even avoid blatently contradicting scripture, but instead add to it. It may take years for someone to prove they are a false prophet and in the mean time the doctrines of man are treated on the same authority as God and by then people often cling to the man instead of the truth.

#14  Posted by Cj Caggiano  |  Monday, November 3, 2014 at 11:36 AM

Cameron,

Thank you for enlightening me about the depth of confusion, perversion, and false doctrination surrounding the misuses of the "Apostolic Gifts". I personally refer to them only as the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Is it your belief that "the gifts of prophesy, tongues, and healing -do not-continue to the present day"? (Simply looking for a yes or no answer) If so, upon what scripture(s) do you base this? I do not wish to make this a "a deliberate diversion" to the presumptive yet easily answerable questions you raise. I do however believe in coming alongside a perverted charismatic for healing and the renewing of his mind rather than just "cleaning house". If you could also tell me what "Oneness Pentecostalism is?" TY, CJ.

#16  Posted by Cameron Buettel  |  Monday, November 3, 2014 at 11:45 AM

CJ, I believe that there are certain gifts that have ceased - tongues, prophesy, and healing. Do I believe in praying for the sick? Yes. But I put healing down to God's providence rather than some individual's "anointing." I would totally subscribe to the arguments put forth by Tom Pennington at the Strange Fire conference (http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/TM13-7/a-case-for-cessationism).

Charismatics who are confused need people to come alongside them with sound biblical counsel. Heretics should be exposed (Romans 16:17; Galatians 1:8-9).

Oneness Pentecostalism is a charismatic sect that denies the Trinity with a doctrine called "Modalism". You can read more about that here http://www.gty.org/resources/questions/QA519/Can-You-Be-a-Christian-and-Deny-the-Trinity?Term=modalism

#18  Posted by Lyndon Unger  |  Monday, November 3, 2014 at 2:33 PM

Good work Cameron!

It's been quite a year watching the fallout from the conference; seeing the "level headed" charismatics start defending the "I was attacked by a demon that lives in totem poles" crowd...for no real reason beyond fear of division and blaspheming what they fear may somehow possibly be a legitimate teaching or manifestation of the Holy Spirit (even though they themselves openly reject it).

What's funny though it how many times the charismatic crowd, like some of the commenters on this thread, think that they've given sufficient answers to the questions that are thrown their way when they through up one exception to a pattern established by five thousand people (i.e. David Snead's video of Scott Rodriguez). I'd suggest asking a few more directed questions:

1. Is the scripture the inspired word of God, meaning that it's the very word of God from the very mouth of God and speaks with both God's authority and truthfulness?

2. Does the scripture communicate a single and coherent message, meaning is there a single author-intended message to the scripture that we can uncover?

3. If the answers to #1 & #2 are "yes", than does the scripture provide a single biblical gospel that excludes all of the various competing "gospels" (i.e. the the idea that the atonement make provision for financial prosperity and/or physical healing in this life, or the idea that Jesus was paid as a ransom to Satan)?

This is a big dividing line and in practice, most charismatics say the answer to that question is "no".

Some charismatic groups teach that the atonement does not provide physical healing in this life, where others emphatically do not. Both parties cannot be right, and yet I don't see all these charismatics, who claim to love Christ and the gospel, making the gospel a line of division. If the atonement does NOT make provision for financial prosperity and/or physical healing in this life, all people who profess that gospel are, by definition, making a false profession of faith.

Even Michael Brown has openly said to me that Creflo Dollar preaches a prosperity gospel, but yet Michael Brown is unwilling to label him an false teacher/unbeliever. If the gospel doesn't declare who is a "believer" and who is not, then this whole debate is utterly useless as Christianity apparently doesn't have any objective definition.

The 3 questions I've listed also work in an equally condemning fashion with #3 being about spiritual warfare, the definition of tongues, the definition of prophecy, etc.

The root issue is hermeneutical, and charismatics simply use two utterly opposing sets of hermeneutical principles. If the same hermeneutics were applied to spiritual gifts that are applied to arrive at an understanding of the physical resurrection of Christ (among other doctrines), this whole debate would be over.

#19  Posted by Denise Grimes  |  Monday, November 3, 2014 at 6:17 PM

The problem is that as long as cessationism and the authority of Scripture are considered theories to either accepted or denied, instead of BIBLICAL TRUTH, then there will never be an absolute dealing with the movement's sin of wrong doctrine and practice (feminism, low view of Scripture, worldliness, mysticism, subjectivism, idolatry, sexual immorality, and the occult for example) along with it's false teachers. In fact, it is precisely BECAUSE biblical doctrine is considered to be optional, that so many have capitulated to these false teachings and practices in part, if not in whole. Scripture says that a little leaven infects the entire loaf and strange fire brings God’s severe judgment. A little is TOO much. We cannot afford to allow for a “little” Charismatic doctrine and practice (aka “moderate Charismaticism”), thinking we’re being “gracious” when God says we MUST worship Him in spirit and in TRUTH. There is no other option. The underpinning of movement is a denial of Scripture only.

If biblical truth is not an option, and it isn't, then neither is cessationism and the absolute and total and sole authority of Scripture. Remember, Strange Fire dealt with leaders and teachers in the Charismatic movement, not ignorant new Christians. The movement is full of sinful doctrine and practices and it’s high time we act like it matters, instead of acting like it’s a matter of personal views or preferences. That’s the problem right there.

#20  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Monday, November 3, 2014 at 9:27 PM

Let's imagine a famous evangelical leader hosted a conference on how Reformed theology was evil and in one session, he argued that Reformed Christians were probably not Christian, and in another session allowed for the possibility they might be. The case he presents for Reformed theology makes use of a couple of Biblical prooftexts taken way out of context. Speakers argue against Reformed theology by appealing to extra-biblical sources such as man-made doctrinal statements about the doctrine of scripture or the teachings of certain figures in church history. Conference speakers were ignorant of certain aspects of church history that related to to the topic.

And let's suppose that the conference speakers try to convince the audience that the Reformed movement is evil by focusing on some (hypothetical) scandal in the Dutch Reformed church and the behavior of the Westboro Baptists, who also accept Calvinism.

You, as someone involved with GraceToYou, probably aren't going to spend a lot of time refuting the conference's attack on Westboro Baptists or some Dutch Reformed issues that you aren't really connected with if you don't move in those circles. If you addressed the conference at all, you'd probably focus on what you considered to be doctrinal error presented in the conference and the accusations that the Reformed aren't Christian.

My analogy is a pretty good one, since, depending on the sermon you listen to from JM, he either makes it sound like a lot of Charismatics aren't Christians, but in another message affirms that some conservative Pentecostals may be. There is no way Paul or Timothy, whose scriptures were Old Testament scrolls, would have interpreted I Timothy 3 the way cessationists have proof-texted it. Timothy's gift given through the laying on of hands that he was supposed to stir up would have ceased in two chapters if that weren't the case,and if the cessationist view were right, Revelation wouldn't be inspired, either.

I believe in gifts of the Spirit, but I don't go to a church where everyone speaks in tongues at the same time or where we hear wild prophecies that don't come to pass. I can only think of one Charismatic Roman Catholic that I've ever met. Continuationists don't all know each other. Does someone at a First Assembly have any more duty to correct the errors of a Charismatic church than he does correcting something said at an independent Baptist church across town? If a pastor is aware of some error being taught to his congregation, he may correct it, but is he obligated to go look up every error out there at any church who calls itself Charismatic.

#28  Posted by Lyndon Unger  |  Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 11:11 AM

"Let's imagine a famous evangelical leader hosted a conference on how Reformed theology was evil and in one session, he argued that Reformed Christians were probably not Christian, and in another session allowed for the possibility they might be. The case he presents for Reformed theology makes use of a couple of Biblical prooftexts taken way out of context. Speakers argue against Reformed theology by appealing to extra-biblical sources such as man-made doctrinal statements about the doctrine of scripture or the teachings of certain figures in church history. Conference speakers were ignorant of certain aspects of church history that related to to the topic. "

Uh, you basically described the John 3:16 conference.

Right now, an umarked white van with Georgia plates is coming to get you. Be afraid.

#32  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 11:50 AM

Link, thanks for the comment!

Here is the problem with your imaginary situation (which Lyndon is right... describes the John 3:16 conference pretty accurately). The behavior of the Westboro Baptists (one small church in the middle of nowhere) is manifestly non-representative of those who believe in Calvinism. Strange Fire wasn't about what one or a few fringe churches do and believe. It is about what the majority of charismatic churches do and believe.

That the shoe of Strange Fire doesn't fit your church is great. But unlike Westboro Baptist who has 7K followers on Twitter, Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer each have over 3 MILLION. TD Jakes has 1.65 million. Even the likes of Benny Hinn and Paula White have well over 300K each. These false teachers and practioners don't get famous by having 50 or 100 or 1,000 member churches. They don't get and stay on best-seller lists for weeks on end because their families bought their books. No, the world is following after them and they are the faces of the charismatic movement. It is these kinds of statistics showing that the mainstream charistmatic movement is heretical and prosperity-gospel driven that "conservative charismatics" have been unable to either accept or overcome with their own statistics.

Here's what so many pastors (charismatic or not) don't understand or are afraid to do: tell their people whose books not to read. The reason heretical charismatics hold the influence is because too many pastors (perhaps out of good intentions, but not necessarily) refuse to protect the flock by pointing out the sheep. If that majority of charismatic churches taught the true gospel of faith and repentance, and warned against false teachers by name (as Paul did), then Osteen, Meyer, Jakes, and the rest would have no audience, no book sales, and thus no influence.

Pastor's don't need to trace down every false teaching. It's much easier and more efficient to label and call out false teachers. Plug the hole and you won't have to keep scooping water out of the boat. I'm amazed at how many people seem to think this would be such a burden on pastors. It's not only their duty, but a skill that qualifies them to begin with (Titus 1:9).

#21  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Monday, November 3, 2014 at 9:28 PM

'Charismatic' is a rather broad category that applies to people who hold to a certain doctrinal perspective. In that regard, it is similar to Calvinist or Reformed. Some of those European and American denominations from the Reformed historical stream are very liberal. Do you have to know every error teaching liberalism, figure out the name of everyone promoting it and preach against it? And why would a Charismatic pastor have any more obligation to teach against some other prosperity preacher's doctrine than he has to speak against John MacArthur's view on cessationism? Rarely do I hear preachers name preacher's names and address doctrines. It's more likely they will talk about the doctrine. Naming names is free advertising, and a lot of epople in the pews don't know all the preachers names, anyway, especially if they don't sit around watching TBN all day.

Given the nature of the conference, naturally Charismatics that address it are going to focus on the doctrinal error of the conference. It's all packaged together in a series of online sermons. I do share some of your other concerns. The gospel being poorly or loosely presented is a terrible problem. The apostles didn't tell people to get saved by repeating a prayer to ask Jesus into their hearts in the Bible. And there are plenty of Charismatics who do this sort of thing, but it seems to be a widespread evangelical problem, not just a Charismatic one, and there are Pentecostal and Charismatics who evangelize by preaching about the other details of the Gospel as well.

There is plenty of evidence for spiritual gifts continuing. I've experienced a few words of knowledge and prophecies over the last week or so. I even read a sermon where John MacArthur claimed to be called to preach. If he uses the term as other preachers do, that means direct extra-Biblical communication from God, because there is no chapter that lists all the preachers throughout history that God would call to preach the Gospel.

#33  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Link, you said, "Naming names is free advertising, and a lot of epople in the pews don't know all the preachers names, anyway, especially if they don't sit around watching TBN all day."

So are you saying that we should disobey the Holy Spirit's command "to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them"? If we are to obey that, how are we to obey that? How can we help those around us obey that? It is only in knowing who those individuals are that we and the church can be obedient to the Holy Spirit.

Pastor obviously can't and shouldn't preaching against every false doctrine under the sun, but they should preach against the false doctrines that are directly influencing those in their church or in their circle of churches. This is what charismatic pastors too often fail to do, especially the broadly influential ones.

#22  Posted by John Deckert  |  Monday, November 3, 2014 at 9:42 PM

There are the ARGUEMENTS of charismatics and then their are the ACTIONS of charismatics. They are not always compatible. Just like opening the box to some new product and finding that the employee at the warehouse stuffed the wrong instructions in the box. What do you do with the product? You send it back. the instructions and product must both match just as the arguments and actions must match. To disregard this is a misrepresentation. In the business world a misleading advertisement can eventually lead to legal action. It simply is unethical and in some cases criminal. It takes advantage of those who trust you.

Why do Michael Brown and lesser known men do the equivalent in the theological world? Why would Michael Brown lend his credibility to heretics such as Mike Bickle of IHOP and Benny Hinn? It seems in this sort of relationship Hinn and Bickle profit the most while Brown's credibility is stolen. I'm bewildered. It reminds me of political campaigns. When the candidate is in trouble he asks for the endorsement from credible colleagues, usually those above him or the powers behind him. Is this what Michael Brown is? Is he one of the powers behind the charismatic movement? He certainly knows more and can debate better than the unequipped rock star charismatic leaders he promotes. Why would one of the most intelligent men in the "charismatic room" play dumb? Why play hardball with Phil Johnson but play dumb with the heretics in the charismatic movement?

#25  Posted by Mike Gendron  |  Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 4:26 AM

The rise of charismatic expressions in the Catholic Church is another way Rome is building bridges to all expressions of Christianity in an attempt to bring all "separated brethren" back home to Rome. I had a meeting on Notre Dame's campus with the founder of the Catholic Charasmatic Renewal movement, Kevin Ranaghan back in the 90's. He boasted of how Protestants and Catholics Charasmatics were coming together to worship Mary and the Holy Spirit. Clearly they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature. When he asked why I left the RCC after 37 years, I explained how I repented and believed the biblical Gospel and how it was diametrically opposed to the Catholic plan of salvation. I will never forget his response. He said, "I have been fellowshipping with Protestant Charasmatics for years and never heard them use the Scriptures that you just shared." That is because most Charasmatics suppress the truth of God's Word so they can enjoy the experience of worshipping a god of their imagination.

#26  Posted by John Deckert  |  Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 6:18 AM

There are the ARGUEMENTS of charismatics and then their are the ACTIONS of charismatics. They are not always compatible. Just like opening the box to some new product and finding that the employee at the warehouse stuffed the wrong instructions in the box. What do you do with the product? You send it back. the instructions and product must both match just as the arguments and actions must match. To disregard this is a misrepresentation. In the business world a misleading advertisement can eventually lead to legal action. It simply is unethical and in some cases criminal. It takes advantage of those who trust you.

Why do Michael Brown and lesser known men do the equivalent in the theological world? Why would Michael Brown lend his credibility to heretics such as Mike Bickle of IHOP and Benny Hinn? It seems in this sort of relationship Hinn and Bickle profit the most while Brown's credibility is stolen. But of course his credibility isn't stolen but strategically given. Unfortunately he gives it to a defective product. I'm bewildered.

#27  Posted by Michael Kennedy  |  Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 7:04 AM

Well said Denise, Cameron and all other cessationists.

It's like...for the charismatics, of which I used to be...what part of what Jesus said of , "I am the way, TRUTH, and life".......don't you GET???????

Oh,I'm sorry... are we supposed to be all nice and kind in dealing with others regarding false teachings? Uh... yes...but other than the new charasmatic believers who have a CHANCE of being corrected... yall are beatin a dead horse!

Their mouths are not the mouths of the righteous (Prov. 10-31), and their tongues will- be -cut -off! Or..."Pride comes before a fall"...or ..."better to keep the mouth shut and be thought a fool, then to open their mouths and prove it" or this one..."lean NOT to your own understanding..." which translated in the NIV bible says..."never rely on what you THINK you know".

I think it's just that EVERYONE is either money-hungry or just wanting to be important; except true religious leaders and teachers because they don't come at you seeking kudos for themselves..but for God...and we can see who they are because, basically, they have studied God's word....and their studied interpretations makes sense!

Oh, you may have to question some of it because sometimes it sounds too easy or weird....like, who would only allow 1 wife??? But God would rather you check it out for yourself with the Word He's established with the men who HAVE studied , than to "lean on our own understanding", right? (ah, yes; 1 wife or 1 husband IS enough)

You know, after being in it like I said, I could see that I, too was wanting to be someone important. You know...hey everybody...come and see how good I look.............. But God kept showing me that I just needed to realize my importance that He had given me....like with my families, friends, work , play...ah, yes, we too can teach each other of God, but when we have control of (Gal. 5-22,23) ourselves and are able to do it correctly according to how God says....then we can privately see how good we are looking to God. I think that would be better than trying to be someone we are not.

Thank you for your time. MKK

#39  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 1:32 PM

Do 'prosperity gospel' preachers call what they preach the 'prosperity gospel.' I think that's a label critics have placed on it. If they teach that Jesus came in the flesh and that he died, was buried and rose again, and that one is saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, do they preach a different Gospel if they also believe that your financial status in life depends on how much and how you give? One can disagree with some of their views without consider them to preach a different Gospel?

I consider the promoters of Strange Fire to be in error in their cessationist teaching, but am I going to say they teach the false 'cessationist gospel'? Does cessationism relate that directly to the nature of the person of Christ or how a man is saved?

#42  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Link, please don't take the fact that I'm responding to most of your comments as if I have a quarrel with you specifically. I'm just trying to continue the discussion and offer counter-points.

You say, "If they teach that Jesus came in the flesh and that he died, was buried and rose again, and that one is saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, do they preach a different Gospel...?"

That's a straw man argument. No one says that. What makes it a false gospel is the utter distortion of the true gospel in their preaching. Take Joel Osteen, for example. He takes great pains to avoid talking about sin. He may say the word from time to time, but he so de-emphasizes it that it's non-existent. Whereas in the true gospel sin plays a central role. The gospel is meaningless without a robust understanding of our depravity, our hostility toward God, and our alienation from Him. Or take those who preach that Jesus died for our physical infirmities. They say "there is healing in the atonement." That is a false gospel because it brings health, wealth, and prosperity into the dynamics where they don't belong. They add to the gospel and make it play a central role.

Of course there are TD Jakes who denies the Trinity and thus rejects the One True God. Or Joyce Meyer who preaches the "little gods" doctrine.

In short, despite what Michael Brown wants us to believe, these false teachers do not preach a true gospel while having problematic fund raising strategies. No, the gospel they preach is inherently and manifestly false by virtue of adding to it, twisting it, or removing necessary elements.

#48  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 1:12 PM

Gabriel Powell wrote

>>>Take Joel Osteen, for example. He takes great pains to avoid talking about sin. He may say the word from time to time, but he so de-emphasizes it that it's non-existent. Whereas in the true gospel sin plays a central role.<<<

TBN's local office is five miles from me, but the signal stopped coming in a few years back, and so I've only seen Osteen preach a few times. I didn't hear any obvious heresy when I listened to him. A message on how God can bless your work and your work can glorify God is a good thing. I think the people who have a problem with Osteen tend to focus on what he is NOT doing like, you are here. I don't know if we should condemn a man for that, necessarily. Most people in your church probably don't regularly preach on the atonement. But if his congregation is only getting these positive life-enhancement messages, then that doesn't sound like a balanced diet at all. My main concern with what I heard from him was the same problem I have with a lot of other evangelicals, a sinner's prayer tagged on the end of a sermon without really explaining the gospel, and the assumption that repeating a prayer saves.

>>>The gospel is meaningless without a robust understanding of our depravity, our hostility toward God, and our alienation from Him.<<<

It is important to understand sin. But I notice some preachers spend more time on it than the sermons in Acts do, and it is not necessarily to use Calvinist terminology (e.g. 'total depravity') or a Calvinist perspective to do so. The apostles didn't use this terminology in the evangelistic messages recorded in Acts.

>> Or take those who preach that Jesus died for our physical infirmities. They say "there is healing in the atonement." That is a false gospel because it brings health, wealth, and prosperity into the dynamics where they don't belong.<<

Saying healing is in the atonement doesn't necessarily imply anything about wealth. A number of authors in the 1800's believed that about healing, but didn't necessarily teach that about wealth.

What does the Bible say?

Matthew 8 says,

16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:

17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses."

This is quoting Isaiah 53, which ties this verse to the death of Christ

Isaiah 53

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Our being resurrected from the dead in the future is possible through the atonment and resurrection of Christ.

#53  Posted by Cameron Buettel  |  Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 2:19 PM

Link, I think you need to read Gabriel's comments more carefully.

There is one important point you need to consider regarding whether the prosperity gospel is damnable. What if they preach a different Christ? (2 Corinthians 11:4)

Also, I am astounded that you can find anything positive to say about Osteen's "preaching." I have never heard him say anything resembling Christian theology. Remove the few twisted/trivialized Bible verses, get him to walk barefoot over some hot coals, and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Joel Osteen and Tony Robbins.

#54  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Link,

It sounds like you're complaining about us talking about someone's preaching which you're not really familiar with. Perhaps before you defend someone you should know who and what you're defending?

You may not have heard "obvious heresy" from Osteen because he doesn't actually say anything of substance. He certainly doesn't teach or explain the Bible such that anyone could grow in their understanding. As one defender said, he is a life coach for people, not a biblical preacher.

False teachers are not always known by what they say, but often by what they don't say. This is how TD Jakes gets away with heresy. He says just enough to satisfy untrained ears regarding his view of the Trinity, but it's what he doesn't say (and refuses to say) that reveals his true beliefs.

> it is not necessary to use Calvinist terminology (e.g. 'total depravity')

I don't hold preachers to using Calvinistic terminology. I hold them to using the language of the Bible. The language of the Bible is critically important.

> Saying healing is in the atonement doesn't necessarily imply anything about wealth.

I'm starting to get the sense that you don't have a clear grasp of prosperity teaching. I've heard multiple properity preachers extrapolate from "by His wounds we healed" that we are healed physically, emotionally, psychologically, financially, spiritually, etc. If there is anything prosperity preachers do, it is look at the Bible through green-colored glasses. It's sad. It's tragic. It's doctrines of demons.

> Our being resurrected from the dead in the future is possible through the atonement and resurrection of Christ.

Amen! And that includes the resurrection of the dead to destruction, as well. Matthew 8 doesn't imply that we should expect healing in this life because 1) not all believers in the NT experienced healing, and 2) then believers would ever die.

#43  Posted by David Drozdowski  |  Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 6:36 PM

I like this article overall. It's important to say from the outset that I really get the heart of it more than many comments or posts by many cessationists.

I must say early on that I don't see eye-to-eye with the distinction between "the charismatic movement" and continuationism. I don't mean there is no distinction as you or somebody else would define those terms; I just mean etymologically, there is virtually no difference whatsoever. Charisma is a gift; a charismatic is one who believes in all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit still in operation, i.e. continuation. I'm not talking denominations or religious traditions, just face-value terminology, which I find a good place to begin. I understand that perhaps you mean "the charismatic movement" includes the types of doctrines or practices that have often come along with preaching continuationism, like Pentecostals who still teach that speaking in tongues is a necessary evidence of salvation. Sure, that's nonsense, but let's not group in somewhat ambiguous terms like "the prosperity gospel" with the charismatic/continuationist movement itself. No matter how predominant those things have been, they aren't at the heart of it or its definition. And that seems to be the nature of the article, pointing out a lot of what we all know is bad, when the only issue should be what we don't agree on, the necessity of all of the gifts. Baby. Bathwater. They do both exist.

You present great points, things continuationists need to consider. The elephant in the room of cessationism, however, no matter other issues you want to debate with charismatics/continuationists about the dangers that often go with their understanding of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ and the person and work of the Holy Spirit... is STILL the absence of any scriptural support for a church without the supernatural. No matter how one interprets "perfection" there just isn't a biblical model for what the church would do or how the church would preach "the gospel" without all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit OR all of the gifts of Christ to the church, simply because of how the good news was preached IN the Bible itself. No matter how much you make fun of it or what else you focus on, the reason the gifts are the biggest focus of charismatics in this discussion is that in the gospels, the good news was never preached without them, so false or real, legitimate issues or not in no matter how many churches, the other problems you present are very extremely peripheral, to the point that talking about them instead of the gifts and the gospel is, for me, becoming a bit of a waste of time.

THAT is my focus, what IS the gospel. It seems to be your focus, so why don't we make that the conversation. Most agree on salvation by grace through faith, via repentance and belief in the blood and the cross of Jesus Christ, our crucified and risen Lord and saviour, being the only solution to sin according to the law... BUT how did Jesus preach the gospel?

#49  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 1:14 PM

Btw, thank you for your responses. I consider this a discussion and not a quarrel, btw, :).

It is also by our great High Priest who shed his blood for us that we can come boldly before the throne of grace and find grace to help in time of need. Even that comes to us through the atonement.

You seem way too ready to dismiss the faith of other brethren who don't see things the way you do. Paul certainly considered people who had different beliefs on issues of conscience as brethren in Romans 14, and he corrected the doctrines and practices of others he considered to be genuine believers even if they were off on certain areas. When we warned the Galatians of falling from grace, it was over the danger in putting their trust in circumcision and the keeping of the Torah for salvation rather than in Christ.

#50  Posted by Cameron Buettel  |  Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 1:59 PM

David, church without the supernatural? Who said that? If you visit Grace Church you won't see legs lengthened, people falling over, or men barking like dogs. But you will meet and see people who have been supernaturally regenerated by the Holy Spirit. I have a charismatic background but can honestly say that the church John MacArthur pastors exhibits more of the supernatural than any other church I have been a member of.

#51  Posted by Cameron Buettel  |  Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 2:03 PM

Link, just remember that many of the questions I asked in this post are soteriological issues and relate directly to Galatians 1:8-9.

#55  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 2:57 PM

David, you said, " is STILL the absence of any scriptural support for a church without the supernatural."

I think it's worth expanding what Cameron said. One of the common errors of charismatics is they seem to believe that the "supernatural" is only seen through supposed outward expressions of the Spirit. As if a church that doesn't experiences tongues, prophecy, healing, etc. isn't experiencing supernatural realities.

And yet, when Jesus taught His disciples about the role of the Holy Spirit as recorded in John 14-16, all the supernatural work of the Spirit has absolutely nothing to do with what goes on in charismatic churches. When you read about the work of the Spirit in the lives of believers in Romans 8, it has nothing to do with the charismatic gifts.

Ezekiel 36-37 clearly portray the incredible jaw-dropping supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, and it has everything to do with salvation and sanctification. That a believer has the power to overcome sin and to glorify God is an amazing supernatural work of the Spirit. That the Spirit enables us to die to ourselves and live for Christ, setting aside all worldly treasure and fame, is a remarkable supernatural work of the Spirit. That a believer can understand the riches of God through the Word of God is an unbelievable supernatural illuminating work of the Spirit.

On and on we could go. True believers experience the supernatural every day of their lives totally apart from speaking in tongues, hearing God's voice, and healing others or being healed.

#56  Posted by David Drozdowski  |  Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 3:39 PM

I apologize for using the word supernatural in a way that seemed like I only meant the manifestation gifts. Given we all agree that salvation by grace through faith is supernatural, the regeneration of the spirits of mankind and adoption as sons and daughters of God, and the eternal life that is knowing God through Jesus Christ are supernatural and are the beginning and end of the gospel, I assumed you wouldn't think I mean that preaching salvation is not supernatural. So I'll clarify. There is no biblical model of the church without the manifestation gifts. It's all very well to say "No, look, here it is, Jesus Christ is the only way to God and to Heaven" and I'll be the first to agree with you because I already know him. But remembering that everybody says that about there religion, there is to be something biblical and different about Jesus Christ. That biblical difference, while it INCLUDES his fulfillment of the law and the prophets and his identity as the Son and Word of God incarnate, the perfect lamb slain for us, by whose blood and name we are saved (I think everybody here agrees on these fundamentals)... IS NOT in the eloquent words. You can be right and win the argument, but unless you have power, you don't have all of the gospel.

My main point, again, was to boil the argument down to the true questions. What IS the gospel? I know how Paul worded it in 1st Corinthians 15, and please don't infer that I'm saying Paul's gospel is different to Jesus' gospel. No, in 1st Corinthians 15:3-6, Paul was summarizing Jesus' fulfillment of scripture, and he wasn't changing the gospel at all, I know this. However, neither was he revising what the gospel was according to Jesus Christ. So, do I wholeheartedly believe that a summary such as the Romans Road is good news, that all have sinned and fall short of God's glory, that the wages sin pays is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, and that we are saved by confessing with our mouth Jesus as Lord and believing in our hearts that God raised him from the dead? Absolutely, and whether or not I can dig up a satisfactory sound bite, it is very simple to hear this message from most charismatics you call heretics in most messages. I'm not condemning or condoning any of the names you care to drop, but what you will also hear from those you dismiss is the good news AS Jesus Christ preached it and told his disciples to, that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. My main criticism of the cessationist religion is, while sin, judgment, Jesus' birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension, repentance, and salvation are included, you will hardly find a reference to the Kingdom of Heaven anywhere, let alone understanding of it. But that's all he preached.

So you who mock people for preaching the Kingdom of Heaven and claiming to and teaching people to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and drive out demons... Read your Bible for the only way the gospel was preached therein.

#58  Posted by Cameron Buettel  |  Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 3:59 PM

David, you said "unless you have power, you don't have all of the gospel." Do you realize that Scripture teaches the exact opposite (Romans 1:16). Unless you have the gospel you don't have any real power.

#62  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 4:35 PM

David, I appreciate your clarification. I wonder, though, if you really did mean "supernatural" the way I took it. I hear charismatics using words like, "walking in the supernatural" and "walking in the natural." I'm absolutely certain that they, like you, would affirm the supernatural work of the Spirit in salvation and sanctification when confronted.

But it seems to me that using "supernatural" as a technical word to describe certain behaviors (perhaps unintentionally) causes charismatics to devalue and minimize the Spirit's work in salvation and sanctification. It's as if that's "normal" work and the "really good stuff" is the outward manifestations.

> There is no biblical model of the church without the manifestation gifts.

I can think of several: Paul's rich and extended teaching on church life in Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1&2 Thessalonians, 1&2 Timothy, Titus. Then there's James' letter, and Peter's two letters, and of course all three of John's letters.

While 1 Corinthians 14 focus very narrowly on the use, abuse, and boundaries of Spirit-given gifts, the rest of the New Testament (i.e. the Spirit's) teaching about the life of the church has little to nothing to say about tongues, healing, etc. That is even more remarkable when you consider that Ephesians was a circular letter (to many churches in an area), and Colossians was to be shared in other cities as well. In other words the church in Corinth was the only church in the entire NT world to receive specific and clear instructions on the several gifts.

One argument is, "how many times does the Spirit need to say something to make it true?" The obvious answer is: one. However, if there is anything we see it is that a lot of teaching is repeated over and over again. And it is remarkable that in Ephesians and 1 Timothy where the most clear and extended teaching on church life is found, there is nothing about spiritual gifts.

#66  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 11:25 PM

Gabrielle Powell,

Paul does spend a lot more time on certain doctrines, e.g. salvation by faith, than on speaking in tongues or prophesying. I'd agree that salvation by faith is a more important truth, more basic, and more important to know about.

But that doesn't mean spiritual gifts are unimportant. How much of his epistles did Paul spend writing about Holy Communion? We would agree that it is important, right? But Paul doesn't spend that much of his epistles on it. He discusses it in I Corinthians 10 and 11.

I've read an argument from certain cessationists that basically try to dismiss Paul's teaching on spiritual gifts in I Corinthians 14, pointing out that the Corinthians apparently had problems with some among them being tempted to idolatry and sleeping with prostitutes. But that doesn't mean that the teachings on spiritual gifts are unimportant.

What is the 'go-to' passage Protestants focus on for the Lord's Supper? It's I Corinthians 11. But there were people getting their own supper before another. One was hungry and another was drunken. Paul had to warn them against not regarding the Lord's body. Does that mean that Paul's teachings on Communion have no application to us? Does that mean it is not for today? Of course not. Paul probably did not address these issues in epistles to churches that weren't having major problems with them.

Does the fact that Paul does not go into detail on the topic of the Lord's Supper in other epistles mean these churches weren't practicing the Lord's Supper? Does it mean they weren't supposed to? Does it mean that the Lord's Supper was for an earlier time period and that it gradually faded out toward the end of the first century, and was no longer needed after John the apostle died? Of course not. The Bible would actually have to teach that for us to be justified in believing it. The same applies to cessationist doctrine.

And notice that a lot of what is done in your typical Protestant church isn't specifically commanded in the Bible. The Bible does not say have a prayer, three hymns, then one sermon by one pastor, etc. The passage that actually commands what to do in church as far as speaking is concerned allows 'everyone of you' to sing, teach, share revelations, tongues, interpretations 'unto edifying.' It gives commands allowing speakers in tongues, interpreters, and prophets to function in their gifts. Why do those who promote the regulative principle ignore the passage that specifically deals with what the Bible teaches saints to do in church?

And notice that Paul does address the issue of the gift of prophecy in another epistle. He tells the Thessalonians to Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things. Hold fast to that which is good.

Also, healings and miracles were done while the apostles preached, so we see them in narratives about their preaching more so than in epistles that deal with issues of doctrine.

#67  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 11:33 PM

Carmeron Buettel

Healing is 'salvation' also, since the same Greek word is used to refer to since one of the Greek words can be translated as either healing or salvation and is used for both.

If you are talking about eternal salvation, Christ's atonement paid the price for that. But His death and resurrection brought about more than only the forgiveness of our sins. It enables us to come bodly before God and receive grace to help in time of need. Now, though I am Gentile, I can come before God and ask in faith and receive. I may receive help in terms of material provision or healing in addition to numerous other things. Through the atonement, I have the ability to have this relationship with God. That doesn't mean that physical healing or material provision or the numerous other things I pray for are eternal salvation. But if I believe I have access to receive from God by faith things other than eternal salvation, that doesn't mean I believe in a different Gospel.

Don't you believe you have access to God in a way you would not have without Christ's atonement? Aren't there benefits in addition to the forgiveness of your sins?

#70  Posted by David Drozdowski  |  Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 12:18 AM

Re. the semantics of unless you have the gospel, you don't have any real power, we all know I am not referring to power outside of God through Jesus Christ. I'm not talking about electricity or medicine. I'm not talking about what the world considers power. I'm talking about the same Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead living inside of us... AND raising up our mortal bodies. I'm not just talking about health and money but an overall raising up of this life as well as the age to come. It's all very well to say that the age to come in the fullness of glory, absent from this body and world, is going to be phenomenal, and that's absolutely true. But if this life, including but not limited to emotional and physical suffering (not persecution for the gospel, just suffering from he who is in the world), is no visibly better, why should anybody believe you have been regenerated? Right, it's between you and God, but he demands that we produce fruit of the Spirit, and vaguely referencing internal love, joy, peace, etc. doesn't compare to actually walking in a newness of life and in victory. I am not assuming this about any of you, but the cessationists I have met will almost all SAY they have joy and peace in Jesus Christ internally, while they are still miserable externally. No, that's not power, that's just lying. If you're still sad or worried all the time, you're not new in Christ. The same goes for health and material well-being. It's not a certain amount of money or things at all; it's just stewardship, management, improvement. To focus on the silly "name it and claim it" baloney is to ignore the fact that God and the true good news are still to impact every area of life, and if we live in subservience to money, that's not the entirety of the abundant life Jesus promises. Again, I'm not talking about an amount; I am a man of very humble means. I'm just talking about advancing. The argument that the gospel NEVER has anything to do with how we handle the material is to ignore Luke 16:11 and many teaching on the Kingdom of Heaven.

#73  Posted by David Drozdowski  |  Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 12:34 AM

Paul’s teachings about specific issues to specifics churches does not in any way constitute a model of church without what you know that I’m referring to by the supernatural, the regeneration that we all agree is first and foremost tangibly affecting the natural, physical world. He did not reteach about the areas of the Kingdom of Heaven in which they were already doing just fine.

It is supernatural for God not only to be interested in the destination of our spirits but to be a Father who actually isn’t ok with the enemy stealing, killing, and destroying through disease, hunger, and poverty. Isn’t that outrageous for me to suggest that the supernatural regeneration of our spirits should also affect our minds, hearts, AND bodies. You might argue that it does, just not in the way the gifts of the Spirit did, and to that I would argue that you are being vague due to lack of faith.

I know this sounds harsh, but I'm not nearly so harsh on people who aren't claiming to be children of God. Oddly enough, I find it imperative that all believers know what salvation is instead of relegating it to our future hope of glory alone. That's wonderful, but soteria is FAR more encompassing in this life than simply knowing we will be present with the Lord later.

No, Paul did NOT present a biblical method of evangelism and discipleship that contradicted Jesus’ method of evangelism and discipleship. Preach the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. Spiritualizing all of this is an excuse for faithlessness and powerlessness, and if you think that you fulfill these commands and teach others to do so by spiritualizing them, well I’m not sorry for waking you up to the fact that you are not healing people internally; he is.

On the other hand, Jesus actually told us to do the WORKS that he did and greater. This cannot be interpreted as more salvations, because saving people is the only thing he did not command us to do, because he alone can do that one.

#93  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Friday, November 7, 2014 at 4:03 PM

David and Link,

I appreciate your efforts, and please don't take my lack of response as if I'm in a corner and don't know what to say. Frankly, the corrective perspective and proper interpretation of relevant biblical texts can be found elsewhere on this website and I don't currently have time to repeat them. More to the point, however, is the reality that your attempt to argue about continuationism defeats the purpose of this article.

#45  Posted by Mark Costik  |  Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 11:09 PM

No offence to the author of this article but I'm confused. You guys at grace to you assume and expect way too much from the reader. Maybe I'm just a simpleton but I don't even know whom you're refering to when you speak of charismatics or the movement. If you want to educate and spread knowledge about what is taking place in the Christian community and where the word is being perverted and distorted, I suggest dumbing down the verbiage. Granted the people who follow grace to you fervently are more attuned and adept to the references but some of us are not. Just a suggestion.

#52  Posted by Cameron Buettel  |  Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Thanks Mark, you are the first person to suggest that. We do try to keep the blog rich in theology and understandable for the layman. But we can't always hit both targets for everyone but will try to be considerate of your request.

#47  Posted by Brad Kennedy  |  Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 7:59 AM

John (26), you are bewildered because you are under the illusion that Dr. Michael Brown is credible in regard to the faith handed down to us. Jude 1:3-4

Egocentric, ethereal, unorthodox man centered theology, is only credible to men desiring the god of this age.

Butler and Unger 'stomped a mud hole' in Brown's smoke and mirror religious retort with his travesty of injustice and the perversity he entitled "Angry Spark", or something of that nature.

Do not be bewildered John. Scripture warns that men of depraved mind will embed themselves among the flock and pervert the truth. 1 Timothy 6:3-5

#57  Posted by David Drozdowski  |  Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 3:57 PM

The good news, from John the Baptist in Matthew 3:2 and from Jesus in Matthew 4:17, as well as through his entire ministry, is that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. HOW the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (his incarnation, sacrifice, resurrection, and sending us the Holy Spirit) and WHY it wasn't at hand before (sin and judgment) are enormous parts of the good news. They just aren't the simple gospel that Jesus preached and requires us to preach throughout the whole world before his return. If you disagree, chew on the same words in Mark 1:15. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Calling your summary of the law and the prophets "the gospel" is like saying the Bible is the gospel. No, the Bible is the written Word of God, which records the origins of creation and his interactions with us from the beginning and through the lineage of faith. It contains the law and the prophets, but these aren't the gospel either. If Jesus Christ ever preached "I am the gospel" this would be a lot simpler, but what's a lot simpler is preaching the gospel as he said to. After all, we are commissioned to make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe what... ALL that he commanded. If we love him, we'll keep his commandments. He commanded us to heal people, and he did not only mean spiritually, because that's his job. But we can't cast out demons, heal, etc... either, right? That's exactly what he rebuked his disciples for thinking. No, not without the Holy Spirit. But if we REALLY believe that we can do all things through Christ, the covering of the Holy Spirit that Jesus sent us, we will do and teach ALL that he commanded.

Or we'll go around not doing those things, making excuses because they're impossible, and calling everybody else fake. We'll even ignore the biblical parameters for false prophets and say that producing the fruit of the Spirit is not enough, that good fruit isn't really good, and that even some spirits that are not from God may pretend to confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh... Except that John would disagree with you. It can't be simple though, can it. Gnosticism, that's where cessationist religion is founded.

#61  Posted by Cameron Buettel  |  Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 4:12 PM

David, has somebody referred to the law and the prophets as the gospel? Where?

#71  Posted by David Drozdowski  |  Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 12:19 AM

I basically communicated that cessationists think the gospel is the law and the prophets in the sense that in "preaching the gospel" they rarely if ever mention the Kingdom of Heaven (which IS the gospel in its simplicity) but instead refer to sin and judgment, the law and the prophets leading to the birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and future return of Jesus Christ, repentance and forgiveness, and the future hope of glory. This is wonderful biblical information; it's just not "the gospel" that Jesus Christ preached AND showed AND told his disciples to preach AND show visibly.

#59  Posted by David Drozdowski  |  Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 4:01 PM

Please forgive me if I seem curt or unloving. It isn't my intention. Please prove me wrong, but I've come to expect many people who go around calling people heretics and blasphemers of the spirit usually end up quite offended when somebody simply says no, you're not preaching the gospel as Jesus preached and taught others to. I can call you a heretic and blasphemer of the Holy Spirit for not getting it right biblically, but I'd find that an awfully divisive waste of time, so I'm NOT doing that. Please do me the courtesy of assuming that I'm going after God biblically, and I'll assume that until now you just didn't realize what the gospel is.

#60  Posted by Cameron Buettel  |  Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 4:11 PM

David, assume away. How would you explain the gospel to an unbeliever?

#72  Posted by David Drozdowski  |  Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 12:26 AM

I would certainly start where Jesus Christ started. "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Repent, and believe the good news." Can you imagine somebody being arrogant enough to say that this opening statement from Jesus Christ, the bringer of the good news, the only mandatory statement he told his disciples to proclaim as they went throughout the towns healing, etc… is not enough to be born again? But they didn't explain that people are sinners going to hell, who need to confess Jesus Christ as Lord? I believe that's good information that we have to offer in hindsight, as Paul did, but what is the gospel? It's what Jesus said it is. Of course there are questions about it, like what's the Kingdom of Heaven like. There are hows and whys, but none of the other possible questions affect the fact that the good news according to Jesus Christ is this and only this: the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

This cannot be preached and taught without explaining the rest, that we were separated from God is sin, so Jesus Christ had to die as the perfect lamb in our place, so part of repentance is the fundamental belief of Romans 10:9, but why we're repenting, thinking beyond, is that the Kingdom of Heaven has been brought to us. Well, what IS it anyway? It is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you're thinking that this paragraph doesn't contain or present the gospel, you haven't believed the gospel according to Jesus Christ himself. You've believed that other scriptural, spiritual information comprises the gospel.

It is possible on the other hand, and this is done unashamedly throughout “evangelical Christianity” although it is a shameful thing, to preach the details without ever teaching that the Kingdom of Heaven is here and how to enter it. If the focus is Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father, so we can be saved from hell and go to Heaven, as true as that is it was being born again and entering abundant life through knowing God NOW that Jesus focused on, God reigning inside us, which gives power to every area of our lives.

#63  Posted by Charles Williamson  |  Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 5:40 PM

#60 Posted by Cameron Buettel

“David, assume away. How would you explain the gospel to an unbeliever?”

Cameron, a joey cannot live without its mothers pouch, likewise one cannot believe the gospel without the gift of faith and this gift is from God.

You should preach the gospel, and not this kind of arrogant judgment.

Cameron, you referred to the law and the prophets as the gospel!

Your pride blinds you and keeps you from embracing your brother.

#65  Posted by Cameron Buettel  |  Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 10:39 PM

Charles, I have made a biblical critique, provided evidence for my claims, and have not pretended to know the heart of those commenting. It would be nice if you could extend the same courtesy.

So if you're going to make assertions like you just did, help me out:

1. Find the quote where I said the law and the prophets is the gospel;

2. Show me where I judged somebody;

3. Explain to me where I'm getting the gospel wrong and where you're getting it right;

4. And take note that none of these requests has anything to do with the continuation of charismatic gifts.

#84  Posted by David Drozdowski  |  Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 5:08 PM

Matthew, there's a glaring problem with your post, apparently an intentional misquoting and twisting of scripture, though I hope it was accidental. You said that Paul very clearly states... and then just made stuff up or otherwise regurgitated something you've heard. There is no mention of Jews or Gentiles in 1st Corinthians 14, and the only mention in 12-14 at all is 12:1-13, that we are made to drink into one Spirit, á la there is no Jew or Gentile in Christ, so 14:22 is most certainly nothing to do with distinguishing between Jew or Gentile believer or unbeliever; that is just a made up talking point. To prove the point simply, the first tongues heard by unbelievers in their own languages were spoke by whom?

#85  Posted by Rob Wilkerson  |  Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 7:36 PM

Hi Cameron! The Pneuma Review asked me to write a response to your article, probably since I'm a 2000 TMS grad who has gone to the "dark side" 😉 It was posted here earlier tonight, and I wanted to afford the courtesy of a link. Love you, brother, and hope we get to meet and fellowship together one day. http://pneumareview.com/the-mouse-under-the-elephant-in-strange-fire/

#94  Posted by Cameron Buettel  |  Friday, November 7, 2014 at 4:17 PM

Rob, there are three reasons I have not responded to your post until now.

1. I have been inundated with other work.

2. You haven't really answered many questions or raised much that warrants a response.

3. Your post really is a powerful proof for why my article—and the Strange Fire book and conference—was necessary.

But here is a few big picture things to think about.

You close your article by saying:

"Cameron closed his article with this comment: 'We want to see someone—anyone—from the charismatic side take up those important issues.' I guess I’m an “anyone” even though I’m a nobody on the big-picture, theological radar, necessarily."

Here's one examples of how you took up the issues. When I asked for statistics arguing that prosperity theology is not the mainstream of the charismatic movement (since the critics howled at the Strange Fire statistics arguing for that), you said: "Man, I just have no idea, honestly." Rob, you don't have to answer the question. But neither should you pretend that you did. And neither should you complain about the evidence at Strange Fire showing how the charismatic movement is overwhelmingly dominated by heretics espousing a variety of heresies (ie prosperity theology, modalism, and Roman Catholicism) if you are not willing to refute them. You couldn't even bring yourself to call Roman Catholicism a false gospel.

You mentioned Kris Vallotton as an example of faithful gospel preaching. Based on the following quote, I am already seriously skeptical as to whether Kris even knows what the gospel is. “When people experience us preaching the Word without us becoming the Word, the gospel gets reduced to a mere philosophy--principles to be argued and words that can be wrangled over. But when the Word becomes flesh and dwells among them, they find themselves pierced to the heart and convicted in the depths of their very souls. It is incumbent upon us as the people of God to preach Christ wherever we go and, only if necessary, use words!” (click here for the blog post) Rob, there is good reason why you weren't taught that at TMS. Because saying "preach the gospel with words only if necessary" is like saying "wash always and, if necessary, use water." The gospel is always verbal, it's why Paul says "how shall they hear" without a preacher. If Valotton doesn't get that simple point, why listen to him about anything else concerning Christian theology.

Furthermore Rob, you are so keen to absolve yourself of any responsibility to warn about false teachers. The shepherd is to teach truth and oppose error (Titus 1:9), point out heretics (Romans 16:17), expose darkness (Ephesians 5:11), and reject any deviation from the biblical gospel as anathema (Galatians 1:8-9). It astounds me that you don't think those responsibilities fall under your jurisdiction (unless, of course, the false teaching is cessationism). Your attitude is the universal attitude we've seen, namely, "the people in my church aren't being influenced by charismaniacs." Perhaps that really is true, but prosperity teachers aren't getting rich off their family members supporting their ministry. Books by TD Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, and Sarah Young don't spend weeks on Best Seller lists because their church members keep buying books. No, many people in all kinds of churches are drinking in the teaching of false teachers, and maybe—just maybe—that includes people in your church or their family members or their co-workers. Who is going to protect them if not you?

#99  Posted by Rob Wilkerson  |  Friday, November 7, 2014 at 9:32 PM

Cameron, thanks for your reply. I wondered if you had an opportunity yet to listen to the link I offered by Kris Vallotton. You specifically asked for something along these lines. I'd encourage you to listen to that specific message. Quoting from something else he wrote was not what I offered in response to your challenge. Try it on for size. And remember that you're not listening to a seasoned expositor, but a guy with a pastor's heart to help connect people to God. There's no doubt about it when listening to that message that despite whatever I may or may not care for, he clearly understands and preaches the gospel.

Now, with regard to what you perceive on my part as a keen absolution of any responsibility, I'd counter-challenge you with my perception that you seem to have a keen obligation of responsibility...but without biblical pattern or mandate. Consider the following.

First, Paul, John, Jesus, Jude, Peter and others were inspired by the Holy Spirit to record their public naming and rebuking of false teachers. Knowing that you don't believe this happens any longer today, I would ask how it is that you come to the conclusion that you believe you can do the same today?

Second, it is clear that the people they named were people with whom they had crossed paths, people they knew personally, or people who were influencing their flock. So they named them and rebuked them and taught their people how to spot and stop that evil influence. That said, there were obviously many others out there who were false teachers, but who did not get named. I wonder why?

Third, Paul, for example, did tell Titus and Timothy to "teach these things," no doubt referring to the things he had to say about false teachers. So based on the first two points above it seems that the pattern that we should follow today is to simply exposit what the Bible says about false teachers, and choose to follow their pattern and NOT name anyone specifically unless we know them or unless they are influencing our flock. That seems to be a much more faithful approach and practice of exposition than the model you are presenting, and indeed demanding of charismatics.

In summary, I only have authority to name and rebuke them publicly when (1) God has inspired me to do so, or (2) when they are having an undue influence on the people I am trying to influence with the gospel.

#100  Posted by Warren Pearson  |  Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 3:50 PM

Dear Rob,

I have great problems with so many of your statements when comparing them with scripture but rather than try and address those I want to take up your challenge regarding the message given by Kris Vallotton at Bethel.

You state, “[he is] making a clear presentation of the gospel: Kris Vallotton, pastor with Bill Johnson, at Bethel Church in Redding. … [T]he message deals exclusively with the gospel: … Cameron, Phil, and the Strange Fire crew would have a hard time finding much to disagree with here as Kris explains the New Covenant, communion, forgiveness, atonement, and justification. I found it deeply encouraging, simple, and biblical. But I’m sure they’ll have a heyday with his homiletic skills, and join Kris’ own self-deprecation about his preaching skills.” Later you also said “he clearly understands and preaches the gospel.”

Regarding his “homiletic skills” I actually found him to be good to listen too in terms of the way he delivered his message. He has a good voice and he uses it well and delivers his content with passion. The major problem is his content and his hermeneutics – how he interprets scripture. It was truly painful to hear how Kris dealt with scripture. He did not handle it accurately at all. He should be ashamed of himself and we should be ashamed for him too for the way he failed to do his job. 2 Tim 2:15

He quoted some key gospel passages (e.g. John 3:16) which on their own were about the only clear and coherent truth that exist in the message.

He took many / most passages out of context and misapplied them.

For example:

Kris: “Everyone should have the gift of prophecy”

According to 1 Cor 12 that is false. Every believer is uniquely gifted.

Kris: “When you prophecy you co create with God. Words become worlds”

This sounds to spring from Word Faith heresy.

Kris: “we were sinners we became saints.”, “We are not a sinner saved by grace”, ”We became a saint.”, “No longer our nature to sin We are prone to righteousness.”

On the contrary Paul says in Romans 7:20,23 “sin dwells in me,” “It is in my members”. Romans 8:13 says to “put to death the deeds of the body.” Romans 7:14,15 talks about the battle with sin and in

Romans 7:24 Paul says “wretched man that I am”. The Christian though freed from the dominion of sin still has the flesh.

Kris: “Why did God create you? He wanted to have relationship with you.”

It is more accurate to say God created us for His glory.

Kris: “Man decided to not have relationship with God”

No – man was deceived by the serpent to disobey God – it was not really a matter of rejecting the relationship.

Kris: “Ex 19 God’s excited about you.”

God didn’t say anything like that.

Kris: “Ex 19:19 you tell us what to do and we’ll do it… [this was] one of the attitudes that began this whole thing that we call the law the old covenant.”

Actually the law was God’s idea and was not a response to Israel’s attitude. Kris takes Ex 19:19 completely out of context.

#101  Posted by Warren Pearson  |  Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 3:53 PM

contd... part 2 of 3

Kris: “they said we don’t want a relationship with God we’ll just do rules. God said Ok I’ll give you rules.”

Scripture nowhere records that. In fact by the time of Ex 19:19 the law had already been given.

Kris says he’s quoting Isaiah “there is none righteous no not one.”

Actually David said that in Psalms and is re-quoted in Romans 3.

Kris: “What does God need to do to change a covenant? God needs to die because He made the covenant.”

God didn’t change a covenant. He inaugurated a new covenant.

Kris: “What’s the covenant? I no longer get into heaven by my works but I get in by His.”

Hebrews 9:15 says Christ’s death provided redemption of Old Testament saints. They were not saved by works.

Kris: “Matt 5:43 where did they hear love your neighbor and hate your enemy? God…Joshua go into the promised land and kill everybody”

Actually ‘hate your enemy’ was how the scribes and Pharisees explained the OT law. [MacArthur study Bible notes]. The Old Testament saints knew they were to love their enemies c.f. Pro 25:21 “love your enemy.”

Kris: “Deut. 28 about v42 and it will not rain in the land.”

There is no such quote.

Kris: “in the old covenant it did not rain on the unrighteous” Kris said this two times.

On the contrary in Acts 14:16,17 it says God sent rains on all the nations.

And so on. This is just up to about 40% through the message. I ran out of time to keep documenting error or twisting of the truth in nearly every statement Kris made about scripture.

Kris created a view of pre new covenant times that makes God seem like a harsh vindictive merciless God during that time. That is a complete mischaracterization c.f. Acts 14:16,17.

Later in the message referring to “The great and terrible day of the Lord…” Kris said “great” meant good in that it would be good for the Christians.

Kris also gave, I believe, a heretical portrayal of Christ in connection with Acts 2:20. V20 talks about the moon being turned to blood and Kris said that referred to Christ on the cross and that Christ was like the moon to God in that He only reflected God’s glory c.f. Coloss