“The charismatic movement is not faith. It is doubt looking for proof.” Those potent words come from John MacArthur in a new interview titled “Strange Fire Revisited.”
It has been four years since the Strange Fire conference, and the publication of John MacArthur’s book Strange Fire. He and Phil Johnson recently sat down for a frank discussion about the history of the charismatic movement, its current state, and the ongoing impact of Strange Fire. This is a candid and eye-opening conversation, as John delves into what first motivated him to scrutinize the charismatic movement decades ago, and discusses the important distinction between charismatics and Reformed non-cessationists.
Here are a few quotes to illustrate the wide-ranging nature of the interview, and the various topics they tackle.
On why this is still a pressing and pertinent issue, John said:
I’m confident that will continue to be an issue; it does not go away. In fact, it seems that it morphs into an even more extreme version as time goes on. The thing that is so sad to me, Phil, is the people who proclaim themselves as teachers and representatives of God are unwilling to do even what the Bereans did, and that is to compare the things they say with Scripture in an honest way. And that, to me, is evidence that there is no righteous intent behind this. This is part of the adversary’s strategy.
On whether the movement is home to genuine believers:
I think Christians will find their way out, sooner rather than later. It’s a great place for non-Christians to belong. I think a true believer, with a real hunger for the Word of God, and a genuine love for God, and a believer that is under the influence of the Holy Spirit has to be led out of the aberrant aspects of that movement. You can’t be a Spirit-filled, Spirit-led true believer, and be at home with the outrageous misrepresentations of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit that exist in that movement.
On the enduring allure of the charismatic movement:
The charismatic movement is not faith. It is doubt looking for proof. They’re people living in doubt. I think they’re deeply fearful in many cases—deeply worried and deeply traumatized by their spiritual condition. And they don’t know what it is to have the love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control that comes as the fruit of the Spirit. And they’re reaching out for something external to validate themselves spiritually, so they know they’re okay. And then you have now, of course, a whole generation who just want an experience.
“Strange Fire Revisited” is a powerful, thought-provoking conversation that you don’t want to miss. It’s a unique look at the heart of a godly shepherd who has been faithfully fending off spiritual wolves for several decades. And it’s a call to God’s people to carry on the fight for the purity of the church and the authority of Scripture.