Strange Fire: Every biblical argument refuted

Today I realised I was at a crossroads. I could either decide I have said enough in my post Strange Fire, a Charismatic Response among others, and walk away from the current controversy, or I could determine to address it more thoroughly. There is always, as R.C. Sproul Jr points out, a tension between truth and unity. The Bible does tell us to stay away from divisive people (Titus 3:10), and it may well come to that at some point. But, I have always had such a lot of respect for John MacArthur and Phil Johnson that I do not believe I am there yet. Also, I am concerned not just for them, but for the people that they are influencing, and for my charismatic brothers and sisters who, like me, probably feel like they have taken a few punches for Jesus this past week.

There are two main prongs of disagreement. Firstly, and in some ways, it seems to have come to the fore almost to the exclusion of the second, is the argument over experience. What I mean by this is that we charismatics say we have certain spiritual experiences, that our churches are a certain way, that we do social action, that our leaders love the gospel. MacArthur on the other hand argues that such experiences are invalid, some of human origin, and many are demonic. He argues that our churches are almost all hopelessly compromised with “Word of Faith” teaching, that there are so many examples of extreme behaviours that more rational charismatics are themselves the fringe of the movement, that most charismatics are not even saved, and that we have done no good for the world in terms of theology, worship, or community benefit.

I believe that MacArthur has been incredibly broad-stroked in his condemnation of people I love. To be clear I believe that not just the reformed charismatics, but also many if not the majority of those who would not see themselves as calvinist, are Jesus-loving, gospel-loving, brothers and sisters in Christ. I see, however that arguing about these realities is going to be very difficult, and so for now I will leave that to others, but am open to link to such material from elsewhere.

I know what kind of church family I am a part of. I also know that there is much good in other charismatic and pentecostal churches. Of course there are many abuses, but I refuse to get drawn in to either defend the indefensible, or to determine somehow which charismatics are “Kosher” and which are beyond the pale. This is in part because there are many cases where at times youthful exuberance has led to foolishness, but where I would not want to reject the naive charismatic as a charlatan or unbeliever. I am sure it is not my role to be a global policeman for the charismatic movement. But I am also sure that others must try and demonstrate the remarkable good this movement is doing. Michael L Brown made a brilliant open invitation to Phil Johnson and by extension to John MacArthur to go and see the many charismatic hospitals he has contact with in India.

There is something culturally imperialistic about claiming that the church outside of the West is hopelessly compromised. I am thrilled that in a few weeks I will get to meet Eddy Leo, a reformed charismatic who leads a large church in Indonesia, and has spoken in all kinds of charismatic contexts all over Asia and Latin America. He’s written a number of books but, to date none of these are available in English, and he is not well known in the West. He is a long-term friend of Bob Roberts, and a recent friend of Terry Virgo. If you can make it to London on 23rd November, you will be reassured that God is doing all kinds of good work around the world that we know nothing about! Please do consider joining us. You can order your ticket at 300leaders.org. It might even be worth a Transatlantic flight if you are eager to have your eyes opened in such a way.  I promise to arrange some time to meet personally with anybody who does take a flight to the event, if you would like that! But, don’t worry if that is too big an ask for you, since as always after the event the videos will be made available free online.

But there is another aspect to our disagreement with MacArthur and others that surely to a Bible-loving Christian should be more important than disagreeing about comments that weren’t nuanced like they should have been, and over whether the majority of the charismatic movement is extreme or not. We have fundamental differences about what the Bible says. Today then I want to launch a series that I have audaciously titled:  “Every biblical argument refuted.”

What I want to accomplish is really simple.  Thanks to the publisher I have been given a copy of Strange Fire, the book.  I will go through the book, pull out every single biblical argument they make, and demolish it here. Now, clearly I am not so naive as to think that on reading this series every convinced cessationist will become a charismatic, though I pray some may.  But what I want to demonstrate is that the arguments they use are capable of being refuted. That is, we charismatics are not merely charismatic because it feels right to us, but because we believe the Bible teaches us we should be.

I want my cessationist friends to sit up, take notice, and realise that they are very wrong to dismiss us as theologically weak, and with no ground to stand on.  I want them to truly see us as brothers and sisters. I want them to appreciate that we believe what we do for good biblical reason. And I want them to offer us the same respect as they offer those they disagree with over matters such as water baptism, eschatology, church government, etc.  Christians need to understand that there are others who have come to the Bible and gone away with different conclusions on these matters. Having an opinion is not wrong. Slandering someone else because they have a different opinion to yourself is very wrong.

There are of course many that have gone before in this regard, and I refer you to the writings of people such as Gordon Fee, John Piper, Terry Virgo, Dave Devenish, Wayne Grudem, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Jack Hayford, Sam Storms, and others for much better and more detailed defences of the points I will be making.  The writings of these people are so much a part of me that I am sure there will be nothing original in what I say. I won’t be referencing them in most cases, however, as I simply will not remember where I got certain ideas from. Meanwhile, my friend Frank Viola in his response to Strange Fire has been posting arguments he wrote in his 20s against MacArthur’s cessationism.

You may be surprised to learn that even having read only some of MacArthur’s book, I do not think this task will be very hard. The arguments I have seen so far are in my view very flimsy indeed, and so it will not take much to knock them down. I will not be writing a whole theological treatise.  Nor will I discuss every possible counter-argument.  Rather, the rules of the engagement are simple.  I will look for every biblical argument cited in the book, and list at least one counter-argument that shows we do not have to simply accept what MacArthur says.  The comments sections will remain open, and all I ask is that people remain civilised and on-topic  for each post.

There has already been a lot of introduction, so today I will only target the first biblical argument we come to, and it is one that was emphasised a lot in the publicity to the conference.

Argument: Charismatic Worship is strange fire

MacArthur begins with the case of Nadab and Abihu, who’s story is told in Exodus 24:9-11, Num 11:16-24, Leviticus 10:1-3. They offered strange fire to God and were consumed by him for profaning his holiness, worshipping in a way God had not desired.  They used their own fire, rather than God’s.  MacArthur also cites Hebrews 10:31, Matthew 12:24, Acts 5:11, and Acts 8:20 to support the idea that it is dangerous to approach God irreverently.  Charismatic worship is, according to MacArthur to be identified with such strange fire and is idolatry:

Here’s the point: we can’t make God into any form we would like. We can- not mold Him into our own image, according to our own specifications and imaginations. Yet that is what many Pentecostals and charismatics have done. They have created their own golden-calf version of the Holy Spirit. They have thrown their theology into the fires of human experience and worshipped the false spirit that came out—parading themselves before it with bizarre antics and unrestrained behavior. As a movement, they have persistently ignored the truth about the Holy Spirit and with reckless license set up an idol spirit in the house of God, blaspheming the third member of the Trinity in His own name.  (John MacArthur, Strange Fire)

Counter argument: Biblical worship is much closer to charismatic worship than cessationist

MacArthur’s accusations are truly outrageous. He claims that charismatics as a group are committing idolatry and blasphemy. And he wonders why we find him so offensive? But the truth is that he is making a massive leap which is totally unsubstantiated. This passage does not tell us HOW we are to worship God, rather, how we are to approach him.

Interestingly the verses seem to say that the problem was that they did not rely on the fire (think strength and anointing) that God provides. If we are to worship God using the power he supplies, rather than some human substitute, that sounds much more like a charismatic approach. Charismatics want God to help us worship, and we want to obey biblical commands about how we should do so. Cessationists come with their own ideas of how we are meant to worship God, based much more on their traditions than what God says. Of course, as Sam Storms points out both sides can learn from each other on the subject of worship.

Biblical worship includes dancing, shouting, making a loud noise, falling on one’s face, not to mention all the gifts of the spirit which I am sure we will get back to later. In fact, it is very possible to argue that the cessationist style of worship is the unbiblical alien intrusion into what God originally intended.

All this passage teaches us is that we should come into God’s presence reverently and worship him in the way HE commanded us.

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock is a medical doctor, a writer, and a member of Jubilee Church, London since 1995, where he serves as part of the leadership team alongside Tope Koleoso. Together they have written Hope Reborn - How to Become a Christian and Live for Jesus, published by Christian Focus. Adrian is also the author of Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything, published by Crossway. Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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You are warmly invited to comment on this blog. By doing so you demonstrate that you accept Adrian's comment policy.

  • Daniel West

    I wondered after hearing that our Charismatic worship is blasphemous, how MacArthur and his elders came to the conclusion that a starched shirt, hymnal toting, piano accompanied and impassive approach to worship was somehow more reverent than its charismatic counterpart. Where does the Bible teach HOW to conduct a public worship service as done in Grace Community Church?

    • Guest

      Okay, so I’m mouthy, but also at home sick – lucky you! If you compare the richness of theology and Christian experience in those hymnals you so quickly dismiss as irrelevant to what is found in the typical Charismatic worship chorus, the CCs come out pretty pathetic. Where is the Charismatic Fanny Crosby, for example? When the movement is able to fill up a whole book of beloved hymns, sung year after year, with rich theology and Christian experience, then maybe you will have something to brag about. In the meantime, maybe a little humility would be in order?

      BTW, I am on a worship team, and we do the new stuff. I like it, but seriously? It is not great either musically or theologically – with a few exceptions. One of the hardest parts for me was figuring out which song was which so I could improvise my part intelligently.

      We also do some upbeat arrangements and new tunes using the old hymns. I love it, and feel worshippy as we do it, but seriously? It’s not greatness. I didn’t even mention Messiah or Bach. Not there yet, my Charismatic brothers and sisters.

      • Deborah Beddoe

        Dear friend, I am only responding to this because Dr. MacArthur brought this up at the conference as well. But you should do a little background research on hymn writers — precious few would have espoused cessation theology. Many of them, including Fanny Crosby, were influenced by, or had connection to, the Holiness Movement of the 1800′s. If you read her story, you will be surprised. Her influences from various denominations were broad. In addition to hymn writers of the 19th century, many 20th century hymns were written by “continualists” as well. Keith Green is probably represented in your hymnal. “Majesty,” an old Grace Community favorite, was written by Jack Hayford. The list is long. There are plenty of weak songs out there, but not all of them are worship choruses. Plenty of hymns contain poor theology as well. I suppose it was sacrificed to rhyme.

      • Jesse Ratcliff

        You are looking at this from the advantage of history. The hymns that have survived are the good ones hence giving the impression that every hymn produced was exceptional. They weren’t, there were pretty ropey hymns written as well, they’re not well remembered. No-one is claiming that every song/hymn produced from the Charismatic church is gold, but the dross hasn’t has the time to sink to the bottom allowing the the best to survive. Give it another 100 years and then see if your criticism stands. BTW, I love the old stuff and wish we sung it more in our church, we’re in great danger of loosing our worship heritage.

        On a side note, I know of no church that would attempt to use Handel’s Messiah in their Sunday worship! Something to listen to and be inspired by sure but you can’t participate (let alone sing it!)

      • Daniel West

        I love hymns. They are ONE of many ways to reply to the glories of God in song. But there is no prescription for using hymnals in the New Testament. This conference is supposed to present a biblical case for cessationism and instead meanders into condemning worship practices without a biblical support. It seems that these same folks would have been looking down on David’s worship with the same disdain as Mikal.

    • Ross Murphy

      This was addressed directly in one of the Q and A sessions. Did anyone commenting actually watch the conference?

      • Daniel West

        Can’t find a Q and A session in the conference media offerings. Got a link?

        • Ross Murphy

          Apologies- no, it was in the Q and A session hosted by Todd Friel. In it MacArthur defended the use of musical instruments biblically and even did acknowledge that guitars could be used! He didn’t restrict biblical worship to the 50′s throwback that (I grant you) was evident in the conference.

          His concerns in that session seemed to me to be genuine and biblical- worship music being used to manipulate emotions in an unhealthy way (not saying that we should be emotionless in worship, but that truth should drive emotion) or biblical terminology being terribly misused.

          For what its worth, I’m much more at home with a more contemporary style of worship -and found the guy ‘conducting’ as distracting as the most vociferous flag wavers I’ve ever encountered- but Macarthur’s complaints carried weight and weren’t sweeping generalisations.

  • Steve

    Hmmm, This song, from a Charismatic worship leader, change my life!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUU1Hgl35RU&list=PL_GXyOs8PZERVuHCsLL1_oXfLnVI1aRKn&index=4

  • Donna Carlaw

    With all due respects, Adrian, you are largely arguing from a position of ignorance. Since you refuse to take a close look at the people MacArthur, and especially Mbewe are talking about, your arguments are pretty useless. You are not ready to process this in a way that would be helpful to the Charismatic movement as a whole. I will say this as kindly as I can. You have no idea what you are talking about.

    In general, i think that MacArthur made some pretty outrageous statements. However, we have heard all manner of outrageous statements coming from the Charismatic movement, and that for about 50 years, now. Maybe MacArthur is tired of it?

    Here is just one un biblical, manmade tradition that runs across the whole Charismatic movement, and has since the very beginning. That is, speaking in tongues – either real languages or exstatic utterances in prayer – is the sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. If you do not speak in tongues, then you are missing out on what the Spirit has for you. That has divided Christians and churches all over the world, and it is not supported Biblically.

    I have been around this movement since its beginnings, and I can accept that this is one of the movements cherished traditions. However, it is not sustained by Scripture alone.

    Before you blow me off, let me share with you the fact that I have worked closely with Charismatics and Pentecostals in different evangelistic endeavours, mostly outside the US, and mostly with children.

    I am not arguing from a position of ignorance. Please! You are discrediting yourself, Adrian.

    You are not ready to address this rationally. The twitter exchange between you and Johnson is not your brightest and best moment. You sounded like a couple of bickering old married people. Aggressive vs. passive-aggressive. Not cool.

    • Steve

      Donna, I think you have not presented the speaking in tongues issue correctly. You said, “speaking in tongues – either real languages or exstatic utterances in prayer – is the sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit”. Rather, the argument that is posed by the some in the Charismatic movement is that speaking is tongues is “always the first sign” of the baptism of the Spirit. This is incorrect. However, I think you can make a case the it is A sign of the baptism of the Spirit but not the only sign. There can be other signs as well. What about intense joy and peace?

      Also, Donna, I do not see how you can say the things about Adrian that you do. I have not been outside of the US in settings you claim to have worked in (and I’m not saying that you did not). Yet, Adrian can make the argument that he is making. Its logical and reasonable from the article here.

      • Thomas Rem

        intense joy and peace will produce aww and reverence not on the floor crazy seeming, Joy and peace is great but the fruit of the spirit temperance/self-control must not be rejected, remember the Holy Spirits fruit come from the tree Isaiah 11:2 and the tree comes from the root Jesus Christ which is the focus of the tree

        • Steve

          Really, Thomas? I suggest you read “Compelled by Love” by Heidi Baker. In there she detail how she was “slain in the Spirit” and felt “liquid love” pouring through her. Then go look at the fruits of that encounter in the astonishing success of her ministry in one of the most dangerous places on earth.

          • Thomas Rem

            The slain in the spirit contradicts the gentleness and kindness fruit also the only times in Scripture people fall down is when King Jesus Christ the speaks against his enemies. If everyone is true where are the many false taught in scripture and if all charismatics are false why is Jesus Christ glorified by them? yet everyone says were in the last days and assumes no one is deceived not even the elect, but as it may be Cessationism must be stopped so Jesus Christ will find true faith when he comes again.

          • Steve

            Why does Hiedi’s experience need to be laid out in the bible? How can a few hundred pages possible cover even a human being let alone the Holy Spirit? Read “Compelled by Love” and see if Heidi thinks that the Spirit was gentle with her. Even the bible says that if all the things Jesus did were written down the whole earth could not contain the books that would be written. I see no discrepancy between Heidi’s experience and scripture. Now the proof is in her ministry. We see the fruits there.

            Thomas, do you think that Iris Global ministry glorifies Jesus? Have you look at it?

            Now, no one on the Charismatic side is saying anything close to ALL that the Charismatic movement is true. That is a straw-man argument.

          • Thomas Rem

            GOD never changes but i need to change for there is much i do not know so yes i cannot be a specific judge of her nor iris global ministry (first time i have heard of her), so send me the links or show me how they glorify the Jesus Christ who died for are sins

          • Steve
          • Thomas Rem

            Mark 16:19-20 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. The word of GOD as recorded in scripture is confirmed by the power of GOD , if we take away the power what happens to evangelism?

          • Donna Carlaw

            Steve, I’m glad that this lady was enabled to go serve in the hard places of this world.

            I hope that you are not saying that such an experience is necessary before one goes out as a missionary to the most dangerous places on earth. Most of my colleagues are cessationists and have never had the experience you are describing. Even so, they are also serving in the most dangerous places on earth, by the grace of God, empowered by the Spirit of God to preach the Gospel of Christ. Not that results are the only measure of success, since Jesus is triumphant everywhere all the time. However, there are people being saved, discipled, and the poor ministered to in their time of great need – and that by cessationists.

            Cessationists believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in the world. Without the Spirit’s miraculous work of regeneration in the heart of a person, no one can be saved. We also believe that God heals in answer to prayer in Jesus Name, as He wills. The wind of the Spirit blows where He wills. We see the evidence of His working in the lives of those who have been saved.

        • Guest

          Rom 14:17, “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

          • Thomas Rem

            the power of GOD , gifts,fruit, and eyes are for today but at the same time scripture teaches there will be false ones likened unto the real. We are in a spiritual battle kingdom vs kingdom

          • Steve

            So, your not a cessationist?

          • Thomas Rem

            i am not a cessationist ! if i was i would not read the bible.

          • Steve

            Be sure to read her book, Thomas.

        • Guest

          Gal 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, PEACE, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

          • Thomas Rem

            Yes i agree! if you read my post i said joy and peace is produced but not without self control

          • Steve

            I tried to delete these for I agree I misread your post. Then this system reposts them as guest… arrg… what a system.

          • Thomas Rem

            no worries friend the scriptures are soooooo beautiful like a beautiful woven carpet between a father and son

        • Steve

          I misread your post. After rereading it I’m changing my second response. Let me ask you this: Is it possible that God can SOOO fill someone with joy that they cannot stand? We need to separate out what the Spirit really does and what people want Him to do. Some, like Heidi, have had that “liquid love” experience that leaves them laying on the floor. Others fake it. This is the Character issue that needs to be dealt with. However, this character problem is church-wide. Non-Charismatic churches have the same character problem it just surfaces in a different way.

          • Thomas Rem

            I know GOD never changes , But yes i agree completely GOD will fill someone with joy fully. John 15:11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. Isaiah 12:2-3 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. for GOD to give them joy so full they shows they are saved, can they stand yes because faith means to trust and if they trust they will be given strength and a song to apply that overflowing joy

      • Donna Carlaw

        Steve, thank you for responding. The argument that you have heard proposed may be as you say, but that is not the argument that all Charismatics propose. However, I will accept your argument for now as if it were the only position that Charismatics have on the give of tongues – for the sake of argument. Anyway…

        Whether it is supposed to be THE sign or ALWAYS the first sign, it still cannot be sustained by the Bible alone. This teaching has done a lot of harm to the sheep. I’ll propose this to you for your consideration. Those who have that sign gift are often puffed up with pride. Since they have that sign – which the Bible calls a gift of the Holy Spirit – they are made to feel special.

        Those who do not manifest that sign, or have that gift are made to feel as though they were missing out on all that God has for them. I am in this category, and have been told numerous times either directly or by the pittying looks of my Charismatic friends, that even though I am a Christian sister and greatly beloved, I am missing out.

        I am not missing out, and to say that God has denied me something that would bless my life does border on blasphemy, no matter how lovingly this message is delivered to me. I have been baptized in the Spirit, and I do know – as the Apostle John assured me and the Spirit has witnessed to my spirit.

        Steve, have you read Jonathan Edwards’ sermons on 1 Cor. 13? After reading it, I’m not sure that he would be a hardline cessationist. However, he does put things in perspective, as does the Holy Spirit. No, I’m not saying that it is either the gifts of the Spirit or the fruit of the Spirit, but his messages are about the best on the subject I know of.

        Take care, brother. Thank you.

        • Steve

          Donna, thank you for your response. I totally agree with you that speaking in tongues is elevated way too much. I take it that you do not? That is WAY ok that you do not. On being puffed up, that is a human problem is it not? I have seen many who were puffed up from other “spiritual” things.

          I have spent the first 25 years of my walk in a non-charismatic church. I use to think that speaking in tongues was totally silly. I did not understand. The Holy Spirit woke me up to Him about two nd a half years ago. How? NOT by speaking in tongues!! Since then I have some to understand speaking in tongues WITHOUT having done so. The Spirit has showed me several things about that gift. I understand WHY charismatics FEEL the way they do. The problem is that we have not matured beyond that.

          I think that if we get 1 Cor 13 on right I Cor 12 and 14 will take care of themselves.

          Take care, sister…

          • Donna Carlaw

            I hear ya’, Steve. I know it’s okay. :-)

            Thank you for sharing some of your testimony. I appreciate that.

            Blessings

    • Tom O

      “You are largely arguing from a position of ignorance”. “Your arguments are pretty useless”. “You have no idea what you are talking about”. “You are discrediting yourself”. “You are not ready to address this rationally”.
      Yet who is arguing respectfully in addressing the arguments raised by MacArthur et al and citing Scripture in support, and who is arguing from their own experience of charismatics while hurling insults?

      • Donna Carlaw

        Hah! Well! I’m insulted! ;-) I will say it more clearly. Adrian has no idea what is happening in the Charismatic world. AW is an aberration, and so is Wayne Grudem and others he has mentioned. Benny Hinn is the norm. He is ignoring the huge elephant in the Charismatic living room.

        I agree that MacArthur went too far, but Bible loving, theologically sound Charismatics have barely even gotten started. At the moment, they are reeling, and franlky, doing a lot of squawking. What indignation! No, not about the sheep who are being preyed upon by the Charismatic wolves that have been allowed to traipse all over the world deceiving people, – mostly among the poor – but about MacArthur!

        If MacArthur gets Charismatics to wake up to what is happpeing in the normal Charismatic world, then the Spirit has indeed done an amazing work!

        • Donna Carlaw

          You know, I think that I understated the above. I’m now listening to the messages that have been made available free at Grace to You. JM makes it clear that he is not talking about all Charismatics. He said that several times in his opening message. He is talking about the very excesses that Adrian says he also rejects.

          If these excesses did not exist, JM would not have had this conference.

          • elainebitt

            Donna, it’s frustrating, isn’t it?
            Maybe if we spoke gibberish they would understand what we are trying really hard to explain.

            Grace and peace to you,
            E.

    • Jesse Ratcliff

      So two wrongs make a right? Because Charismatics have been bad mouthing Cessationists for years, now it’s their turn to be on the receiving end?

  • Tom O

    Great stuff Adrian. I think there is a lot of wisdom in your approach i.e. only giving one clear counter-argument on each point, while referencing other works of greater detail. Those who are open to reexamining the issues should be encouraged to do so. God bless.

  • Steve
  • survivorcrone

    Shouldn’t you good Christians be out helping the poor instead of arguing with one another? Or do you honestly believe you can accomplish that online?

    • Steve

      survivorcrone, how are we to work out our differences? The online community is a very good way to connect across distances. Its has it weaknesses. I have been blessed by what others have said to me in online chats like FB.

      • survivorcrone

        If your last name is Furtick, I’m not even going to consider your answer as having the least bit of value. BUT, I will say this – if you folks are ministers you should be ministering to your parishioners and not playing word games with one another on the internet. I know you have sick people in your churches, some of whom are probably dying right now as we speak, I know you have people dealing with crisis of faith, I know you have others who need you to tend to them for one reason or another and your presence is required by their side with understanding and compassion, not here on the internet, pissing and moaning about someone else.

        I watch what you all of you folks have to say because I want to know just exactly how many of you out there in preacher land are abusing your positions and the people who trust you. And quite a bit of the time some of you do not deserve that trust because you twist, warp and denigrate a simple man’s faith. I’ve seen how you talk about others during your sermons and read the things you have to say about people who don’t fit the mold you happen to prefer. I’ve counseled those who have been abused by some of your colleagues and entire congregations simply for asking questions. I allowed my shoulder to be cried upon by those who are burdened with the memories of being molested by clergy men, yet few of you speak out loudly against that situation. Preferring instead to keep it under wraps and settle a criminal offense within the confines of your churches. You can forgive a child molester while he’s behind bars, but it’s behind bars he belongs if he robs a child of their innocence and alters the course of their life. But, it’s not your differences that you should be working out here. You should be working these issues out in person in your general meetings and assemblies. During the hours of ministry you should be doing your jobs and your job is the people of your churches and the charities you supposedly support. Your job is to show grace and humility in every step you take and to teach the basis of one simple golden rule. And if you can’t do that you need to get a real estate license.

        And if your name isn’t Furtick, (which chances are it isn’t), I still don’t consider anything he would have to say as worthy – he’s just a flim flam man – how many of the rest of you follow that same job description? I can name a few of you myself – I can tell by your Barker Black shoes.

        • Steve

          Well, that is not my last name. Is there value in this type of engagement in this medium? Maybe not. But you choose to watch, do you not? As far as the rest of your comments, you cannot be talking about me personally. However, I also see what you are saying. I will need to think more about my response to you.

          • survivorcrone

            Glad to hear it. I have good reason to watch, I use it for research and personal knowledge and further education. The remarks were made in general and not at you specifically. There is no need for further communication, I have gleaned about all I can from the original article and subsequent dialogue on this page. However, if you are a pastor, please find time to spend with a hospice patient in the near future. Facing death is quite fearful for many, and you could console someone with words of a kind and loving God and just maybe peace could come into their heart before the end….

          • Steve

            survivorcrone, I felt God tell me that this should not be the last of our communication. I am not in a pastoral role BUT by the grace that comes from the blood of Jesus I am a Royal Priest. I totally agree that hospice patients need hope for death is not the end. I’m glad your researching but are you seeking the face of the only true God? I feel God telling me that your not going to find Him in these debates. These debates are really an internal family matter that should be much LESS public than they are.

    • Donna Carlaw

      Hi, survivorcrone,

      I just saw your posts. Not sure if these materials would be of any use to you. I started to do an annotated biography on the subject of abuse within the Evangelical church – materials written from an Evangelical point of view. There are some good books being produced. Now, you may not be an Evangelical Christian, but I think that these references may be of service to you and those you work with. Not sure, but I’ll throw this out to you for your consideration.

      This is a scholarly work written by professional counselors.

      The Long Journey Home

      https://wipfandstock.com/store/The_Long_Journey_Home_Understanding_and_Ministering_to_the_Sexually_Abused

      This is a theological work as well as a counselling tool, also written by professional counselors whose main ministry is among those who have been sexually abused. The authors are on staff at Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA.

      Rid of My Disgrace

      http://www.amazon.com/Rid-My-Disgrace-Healing-Victims/dp/1433515989

      This subject is of great concern to me, though I am not a counselor. Since our mission’s focus is mainly on children at risk, we have people who work with those who have been terribly abused. Anyway, I think you’re right. My concerns have to do with pastors, who in the name of the Holy Spirit, or Jesus, or the Gospel are willing to abuse the sheep.
      Anyway, I’m gonna’ go work on my annotated bibliography while I’m sick. I’m just being an annoying gnat here. :-)

      Thank you for the reminder, and take care. Thank you for your love for the battered sheep.

  • Richard Burgess

    Interestingly at their (Grace Community Church of which John MacArthur is a pastor) Sunday morning service they sang In Christ Alone, a song full of good Christ and cross centred theology -wonder if they realise it was written by a charismatic, and they say nothing good has come out of the charismatic church!

    • Steve

      That’s fascinating. Can you post a link for that?

    • Nic Boyd

      You misunderstand the quote about nothing good coming from the charismatic movement – he is saying that

      “Charismaticism as to its distinctives has made NO contribution to true worship, Biblical clarity, or sound doctrine. Biblically-faithful Christian people had already had all that for centuries. Charismaticism as to its distinctives has brought only chaos, confusion, misrepresentation, false doctrine, and delusion.” – (Dan Philips)

      The song, In Christ Alone (a song I also love), is not a result of Charismatic theology or doctrine.

      MacArthur’s comments are harsh and I, having grown up in the AoG church, struggle with them.

      • Donna Carlaw

        Nic, I think that some of the soundbites and quotes sound very harsh. Maybe they were in context as well. I think that both sides – cessationists and continuationists – have said some very harsh things about one another through the years. There has been a lot of division and confusion. I don’t think that either side can claim the high ground on this, which should bring us all to the foot of the cross to find grace in Christ.

        However, I think that MacArthur’s words in this blog post are very kind.

        http://www.gty.org/Blog/B131023

        To me it doesn’t sound as though he thinks that all Charismatics are guilty of the kinds of errors he addressed in his conference. I am listening to the messages that have been made available. Of course, I would be more in the cessationist camp, but with strong bonds of love in Christ to the other.

        Here is a quote from the blog post.

        “We also need to commit ourselves to the local church. Whether or not your congregation is charismatic or has coninuationist leanings or not, you’ll never be able to make a difference from the fringes. Find a way to use your giftedness for the service of your church. Get involved, serve, and support the godly men the Lord put in place to shepherd and lead you.”

        • Deborah Beddoe

          Please read this summary by MacArthur. This is just an excerpt of a very long post, full of attack on the GENERAL charismatic movement. http://thecripplegate.com/strange-fire-a-call-to-respond-john-macarthur/#more-11514
          ****Others have said, “You’re attacking the movement that has given us such rich worship. This music that has come from the Charismatic movement is enriching the worship of the church.” Well I would beg to differ with that. I’m convinced that the contemporary style of charismatic music is the entry point for Charismatic theology into churches. If you buy the music, the theology follows. Because all of a sudden you’re listening to the same songs/artists, experiencing the same emotions. The church may be non-Charismatic, but all the style is exactly the same. That’s the entry point. Show me a church that has a strong doctrinal statement, and I’ll show you a church reluctant to embrace even the music. Show me a church that loves great hymns and theology put to music, I’ll show you a church reluctant to embrace the charismatic movement. And because the music doesn’t come in, the theology doesn’t either. That’s the seductive entry point. I’m not talking about specific things, because there is contemporary music that’s beautiful and we can and should sing that. But when it its uncritical and not about the mind, but about the flesh, when it’s not about truth understood but emotion felt, it induces the same kind of feelings that are consistent with the Charismatic movement and opens the door. If we’re all singing the same music, how can we divide each other? I think the Charismatic movement has significantly diminished worship. It’s taken out of the arena of truth, out of the mind, and reduced it to feelings of the flesh
          There are others who criticized by saying, “You’re attacking brothers.” I wish I could affirm that. We’ve said this one way or another this week: this is a movement made up largely of non-Christians. ******

          There is much, much more.

        • Nic Boyd

          Donna, that is a great quote – one that I need to heed. I too am more on the cessationist side having come from the Charismatic.

          • Donna Carlaw

            Hi, Nic,
            I like a lot of what MacArthur says, but there are times he has annoyed me by what he says. Sometimes he can be too blunt. I understand how Charismatics can have a strong reaction to what he says.

            However, I really think that in his initial message to the conference, he was talking about wolves. He was careful to say that not all Charismatics are like that. I listened to it. Sure, he’s a cessationist, so he comes from that position. However, I do know that he has opened his pulpit to Chuch Smith back in the day.

            I find it sad that some Charismatics were muddying the waters long before the conference even began. Much of what is being spread around as truth about what JM said is really based on the initial negative tweets that were sent out over Twitter – and I won’t name names of who did that, but he bragged about the tens of thousands of retweets and shares he had gotten. on social media. Very bad form, IMO. Now the waters are so muddied that very few will actually think through what JM said.

            No, I don’t agree with everything he said, and I think he is exaggerating somewhat. However, his main emphasis was about the wolves, not about the true Charismatic pastors and teachers. That may not be entirely fair, but wolves are not fair. Like it or not, it’s the wolves that are at the forefront of the movement.

            If Charismatics don’t like that fact, then they need to change it. Naming names would be nice, but at least naming the false teachings and explaining how they are unbiblical would be nice.

      • Steve

        Nic, the logic that Mac Arthur is using is irrational. The question is where does the song writer think that his inspiration come from for the song? I wrote a short story a couple of years ago that has had a big impact in some peoples live. The inspiration for that story came from some encounters and experiences that Mac Arthur says is demonic. Yet, my short story draws people closer to Jesus.

        Mac Arthur is using circular reasoning. He assumes that anything that is charismatic is of the devil. So from this assumption he then concludes that anything good came from an orthodox understanding of Jesus. Hence, he concludes that nothing good comes from the charismatic.

  • Pete K

    Hi Adrian. I’m commenting as a cautious continuationist! I hope you don’t mind two thoughts. First, the MacArthur quote says ‘many charismatics’ so he may be being a little more nuanced than you give him credit for. And second, I felt your critique of MacArthur and the tone of this post was, as one commenter already said, a little passive-aggressive and perhaps not expressed in the most helpful way. While it’s good to get back to Scripture to argue the points, make sure you keep doing so with a heart of grace and humility to those you disagree with.

    Every blessing, brother!

  • A Frog At Large

    I’m very much looking forward to this series, having read the going-ons of the Strange Fire conference with increasingly wide eyes and open mouth.

  • Steve

    Actually, I’m glad that there is such a BIG splash with Mac Arthur’s conference. We need as the body of Christ to finally air these things out. We need to air our grievances. We need to see how we have been judgmental and unloving. We need to see how division has deeply hurt us.

    Just imagine a body of Christ that actually loved each other!
    How awesome would THAT be!

  • Steve

    What if a Charismatic church in Mac Arthur’s area went and served them?
    What if a cessationist church went and served a Charismatic church?

  • Donna Carlaw

    Adrian was angry before the conference even started. He was tweeting about it on the 15th. He has been angry ever since. His tweets are proof of that. Even after he said in this post that he was done with this, he kept on tweeting out angry statements. Just FYI. This is not what I had come to expect from Adrian Warnock. He is acting like a school child, responding sarcastically and in anger. He has refuted nothing in this post, but has shown himself to be reacting in the flesh. Just FYI.

    • Donna Carlaw

      I can’t believe I said that! How rude! Who’s being a brat? I gotta’ chill out and trust that God and Adrian will work this out together for His glory. I apologze for confusing myself with the Holy Spirit.

    • Brandon

      I agree. I never seen the heat to this degree towards Rob Bell. He basically gave him a free pass. I think its fair to say where Adrian’s theology is at–closer to the heretical Rob Bell and others alike.

      • http://adrianwarnock.com/ Adrian Warnock

        I believe that what MacArthur has said has more potential to damage the church than what Bell said. Why? Because very few true evangelicals are taken in by Bell. Whereas MacArthur is trying to redefine Christianity itself to exclude me and many many people, and some will be taken in it seems. Btw I did critique Bell quite robustly.

        • Nic Boyd

          Really?? What Bell (and Shane Hipps) teaches/taught was heretical. What MacArthur is saying is not heretical – it is obviously a different opinion to yours but where is the damage??

          Rob Bell was hugely popular amongst young evangelicals and sadly many of the older evangelicals did not even notice how bad Bell’s theology was.

          • http://adrianwarnock.com/ Adrian Warnock

            But wasn’t Bells heresy recognized by most at least when he published love Wins? Or did I read that wrong.

        • Donna Carlaw

          Adrian, dear brother, why not take a breather from this? All your arguments so far boil down to this: “My Charismatic friends are not like that, so what the wolves do is none of my concern. I have to smack down that whacko MacArthur before he goes any farther. ” Now if you are going to say that MacArthur is an unbeliever and a wolf, then that is a different matter. However, are you ready to declare that after a week hopped up on Charismatic indignation?

          Go ahead. Smack him down. Benny Hinn and his ilk will still be there. You have to address the gross errors within your movement eventually, or you cannot lay a claim to the Holy Spirit’s power. You can only go so long pointing out everyone else’s errors before you have to look within.

        • Donna Carlaw

          Just a little story. About 10 years ago I read something that MacArthur wrote that made me really angry and terribly upset. I couldn’t believe what he was saying.

          It took me several years to understand the context of what he was saying. I still think that he was overstating some things, but I agree with him on that subject for the most part now. I had to see with my own eyes the errors he was talking about. I didn’t have the context until later.

          Now, it’s fine to argue with a mere man like JM. However, you are still not ready to see the context of what he is saying. No problem, but I know he did not say that all Charismatics are wolves and charlatans, blaspheming the Holy Spirit. He did not say that.

          He was very careful to say that he is not talking about all Charismatics.

        • Brandon

          Adrian, I although I may be respectfully critical of your writings sometimes, please do not interpret my forthright rebuttals as hatred in any way towards a fellow believer in Christ. With that said, I lived many years next to the infamous/famous (depending on what side you take) Rob Bell here in Grandville, Michigan, a suburb of the great city of Grand Rapids. During this time I became very familiar to the teachings of Bell and even to those of his ‘spiritual guider’, Pastor Ed Dobson. I am actually a church member of Calvary Church, where Dobson use to hold the head pastoral position for many years. So it’s safe to say that I know a thing or two about Rob Bell. Criticism towards Bell never flew heavily in the area until his New York Times Bestseller was published and released, “Love Wins”. The book that was undoubtedly filled with heretical and ‘universalist’ teachings alleged by many biblical scholars, theologians, respected pastors and so on began to take a striking blow to Bell and his reputation, Former members of the church looked disturbed, confused, and lost by his releasing statements on doctrines of different sorts. So to say that the teachings of Dr. John MacArthur’s are more harmful than those of Bell’s teachings sounds ignorant, naive, and absurd. To have your own former members of Mars Hill Church renouncing Bell’s teachings and calling in to questioning his faith, is something not to turn a blind eye to as it speaks great volume of who you are as a person and a pastor. When the flock of sheep waiting to be slaughtered begin to recognize their fate, change course all of sudden, there’s something to learn from that. Now, in all fairness is Rob Bell a brilliant orator? Absolutely. Does he have a creative approach within his teachings? Absolutely. But, Rob Bell is also a brilliant manipulator of emotions as well. I think prior to your interview with him you had to be thinking that you would dominate the interview and absolutely annihilate his heretical and grossly perverse doctrines on marriage, salvation, and so on, but Rob Bell to some degree used his outstanding choice of words, analogies, and manipulation to somehow to get you thinking that he was somewhat reasonable and kind about critical issues. Given the chance to interview him again, would you change anything differently? Not that you did a bad job on interviewing him, (I found it entertaining and I had great respect for you and the co-host for challenging certain issues) but I would like for you to take this righteous anger that you have somehow managed to arise towards MacArthur and have applied it during the Bell interview.

          Whether you love or hate MacArthur, at least give him your utmost respect in teaching what he believes to be true derived only from scripture. It would be a hard rebuttal for you to prove that someone like Bell has advanced the Kingdom of God far greatly than a honorable man of God such as MacArthur. You must recognize the importance and duty to question practices on all sides, this helps stir up discussion and when that happens it immediately encourages those in the discussion to responsibly look to scripture for reference and validity. While you may dislike the the large widespread attention of the ‘Strange Fire’ Conference, it may do us all a bit of good to engage in discussion, as seen done by Dr. Michael Brown and Bible teacher Phil Johnson.

          • http://adrianwarnock.com/ Adrian Warnock

            Bells ideas are outside the bounds of evangelicalism and I tried to counter them clearly that day. But his “rules of engagement” with the Bible make it hard to truly engage. MacArthur I see as an evangelical brother, one who it’s very possible to engage with biblically. It’s not his cessationism that bothers me but his rejection of other evangelicals like me as brothers. I am concerned that the evangelical movement is in danger of fracturing in a way that it patently didn’t with regard to Bell.

          • Donna Carlaw

            I see that Dr.Brown was also writing about Conrad Mbewe before the conference began. He called him out for exposing the abusive charlatans who are savaging the church in Africa. Dr. Brown defended the wolves and criticized Mbewe.

            Dr. Brown writes for Charisma Magazine. Yes, he does expose some of the abuses in obscure parts of the US – as he did recently on his program. However, why does he avoid exposing the most obvious and damaging wolves, like the ones on TBN who have worldwide “ministries”?

            All it takes is a little discernment, a gift that Charismatics are supposed to love.

            Here is the kind of error that Mbewe deals with, the kind that Dr. Brown seems to have defended in his Charisma article, specifically criticizing Mbewe! Note how some of these wolves deceive the young women so they can have sex with them. Do Charismatics care about that kind of error done in the name of the Holy Spirit?

            http://www.conradmbewe.com/search/label/Charismatic%20excesses

      • elainebitt

        “I never seen the heat to this degree towards Rob Bell.”

        The reason is simple: Rob Bell doesn’t really care about the authority of Scriptures. He doesn’t even believe it to be the Word of God. Rob Bell is no one that Adrian or any other charismatic would fear criticize their movement.

        • Brandon

          You’re being very judgemental. How do you know that Rob Bell doesn’t believe scripture is the word of God!? Did he proclaim that? Why don’t you ask Adrian if he thinks Bell believes this way, and he’ll probably agree with me on this, that he does and it has everything to do about his interpretations, doctrines, theology being with error instead of what you said with such confidence.

          • elainebitt

            Brandon, I am still scratching my head over your reply to my comment.
            You seem to know Bell and his teachings well. He is not only in “error”.
            Grace and peace to you,
            E.

          • Brandon

            I agree his teachings are heretical and very dangerous, I’m just saying that is totally different than saying he does not believe in the word of God, if you knoW what i mean. I currently live in Grand Rapids, MI only a few miles from Mars Hill, where Bell formerly teacher at. I know Bell pretty well despite our differences.

  • Brandon

    Please inform your readers how Christ worshipped. It has no similarity to the charismatic form of worship, and if you can prove otherwise, please feel free to share. Where does the bible mention being slain in the Spirit!? Yet the charismatics have adopted this as if it were commanded by God in scripture. Your (charismatics) credibility alone is not worthy to be taken seriously on this matter or other issues pertaining to the gifts, worship, theology, and so on. Its blatantly obvious that the charismatic movement has always derived theology from experience and emotion rather than from sola scriptura.

    • Steve

      Cessationism derives its views from a lack of experience with God and hence is also a view that is derived from experience. Jesus criticized the Paraphrase for their drive to doctrinal purity but refused an experience with Jesus.

      On worship you setting up a straw-man argument. Being slain in the Spirit is not common practice across charismatic churches. I have spent many worship services and no one was slain in the Spirit.

      You ask the question, “Where does the bible mention being slain in the Spirit!?” I will answer this with a question: Does everything need to be spelled out in the bible for it to be a valid experience with God? This is a BIG difference between Mac Arthur and the Charismatic movement. There are many cases of people being slain in the Spirit in the bible but the bible does not use that terminology.

      If you really want to research this I recommend Heidi Baker’s book, “Compelled by Love”.

      On worship, this represents the heart of worship in the charismatic movement, and how dare you question the worship of a child of God to His creator. That is pure arrogance!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJXKos2PHcQ&list=PL_GXyOs8PZERVuHCsLL1_oXfLnVI1aRKn&index=11

      • Brandon

        Steve, do you know what it’s called when you elevate gifts above the giver? Idolatry. Do you know what would happen if you were to take away the gifts from the Charismatic Movement? It would come to an immediate hault and a tremendous amount of void would come in to existence. We are starting to see this happen slowly before our eyes. Being slain in the spirit, speaking in tongues, prophecy, and instant healing are fading away and being replaced by the ever so popular prosperity gospel and motivational therapy sessions. You and I both know this, mega-churches aren’t growing by the old and traditional 20th Century Charismatic ways anymore, churches are growing to enormous volume because they are replicating those alike the heretical Joel Osteen figures, and the charismatics feel the urge and obligation to jump aboard the journey. Even as you say that being slain in the Spirit isn’t so common, well I didn’t here the Charismatics objecting to that even in the slightest when it was common which meant you stood behind such an un-biblical action. The Charismatics love(d) the slain in the spirit action, but nervously avoided away from giving explanation to its reference in scripture.

        What separates us (reformation theology followers) is the fact that we don’t base standards off of emotions, which can be totally manipulated, and we don’t open the canon of scripture to fill it full of expierences and close it back shut and aknowledge it as if it were written by an apostle or even Christ Himself. You can not add to the word of God based on experiences, why you may ask? Because just for an example, have you ever heard someone say, “wow I just got goose bumps listening to a powerful Christian song” and they later revealed that it was the Holy Spirit? No need to even use the process of validation; scripture and prayer, let’s just say it was the Holy Spirit because no one will prove otherwise! Seems like a reasonable assumption, right? :/
        but wait, I have heard of Christians that have got emotionally moved in the same way to a secular song. Was that the Holy Spirit too!? I think not, was it possibly the enemy trying to stimulate and manipulate your feelings? Probably. So my conclusion is that experience can be very difficult sometimes to distinguish apart from a supernatural good or bad force, and we shouldn’t just label these expierences to the Holy Spirit. The Charismatic would certainly say that the Holy Spirit gave me goose bumps when I listened to a song, well I personally wouldn’t say that because I simply do not know if the Holy Spirit is in the business of going around doing that and it is never pointed out in scripture. That is called being a responsible Christian. You could also apply that to any expierence you may have.

        You say “does everything have to be pointed out in the Bible to be a valid experience?” Be careful with this question, it could become chaotically loaded. Why? What then do you say to the Mormon or the other cultic religious member that also believes in the gifts of today? They could use this against you to further make it more difficult to defend the core of Christianity. Btw My answer to your question ( in regards to validity) is no, but do not label those who oppose you as not being anointed with the Holy Spirit as the charismatics have foolishly done before and presently do today as if it were somehow commanded by God and in scripture. *Big difference.

        I personally find the Charaismatics completely ingnorant and out of touch with the scripture. I have questioned them before and they always resort to becoming the interactive skeptic and avoid answering the difficult questions I present to them. Some of the questions include: how come a person who is missing a limb never miracously grows one back during healing? Is God incompetent and only capable of internal healings!? How come the big named “prophets” (as you dislike calling them for whatever reason, but that’s what they would be categorized as within the Charismatic Movement) are wrong more times than right and shouldn’t they be right every time if they are anointed!? How come if speaking in tongues is for the unbeliever, then why is it done at the church primarily, even by women and with out a interperator!? Why all the disobediance!? Slain in the spirit, where does Jesus talk about using the Holy Spirit for this? Where does it talk about Jesus jumping up and down and going crazy during worship!?

        I could on and on and I never seem to get answers. Hmmmmm…but they; Charismatics keep saying I’m wrong because I take pride in the sola scripture.

        • Steve

          Brandon, you started this thread with the statement:

          “Please inform your readers how Christ worshipped”

          I nailed you to the wall on your arrogance. Lets first deal with that issue. How dare you judge the worship of a child of God.

          • Brandon

            You never even addressed my questions, you simply based it off of personal reasoning and experience. I need Biblical reference, before I become satisfied. Let’s try again.

            Where does the Bible mention that Jesus during worship became out of control? Did He jump up and down? Did He fall on the ground with laughter filled by the Holy Spirit? Did He speak in tongues while praising His Father? Was there any sign that everyone was doing there own thing (chaos) or was everyone on the same page during worship? Please tell me what you think based off of scripture. Let your theology be right.

            These are very valid points, I can not reiterate how important it is to find these answers and model one’s self after Christ. As Christians, that is what we are suppose to do, right!? In all ways, even worship, right!?

            Tough question after tough question, in which the Charismatic has only had the opportunity to play defense. John MacArthur, has reigned fire on this movement, and continues to do so. When all you use is scripture in its entirety, and I mean solely scripture it becomes very difficult for the opposing side to ever gain traction.

            Give it time, and your eyes will be open to what I predict, and no this is not a prophesy. The movement has already begun getting rid of the name “Pentecostal”, a process of going to “non-denomination”. In the coming years you will see an explosion of churches getting rid of the gifts in heavy numbers. I grew up as a Pentecostal, and my church has almost completely turned its back against being slain in the Spirit, tongues, prophesy, ect.
            It (charaismatic tactics) doesn’t gain the church numbers it use to. Too many reasons why I left the movement, it became overwhelmingly obvious that it was un-biblical.

          • Steve

            Brandon, you committed sin here. Your judging another child’s of God’s expression of love to their creator. That is nothing but arrogance. You first need to repent of that sin before any discussion can take place.

          • Brandon

            A response even the Apostles I’m sure heard quite often. When questions can’t be answered many resort to throwing out the “judging card”.

            Hard questions, I know.

            Good day!

          • Steve

            That is such arrogance…

        • Trezire Reforma

          Brother, in our country almost 100 years of Pentecostalism, experiences as slain in the Spirit, laughter, falling on back, hard music, this full package attributed to Charismatic movement was absent. We are afraid that is going to come. So may be sooner or later the West will fall, keep this in mind, american christian influence will end. Then you gays will not have reasons to be divided but maybe reasons to be broken.

          • Brandon

            Would it be a fair assessment that the title of “Pentecostalism” for your country would not be the best title. If the lack of or absence of the characteristics you mentioned were not present, then what really does qualify your country as being Charismatic or Pentecostal? There is a certain criterion for distinguishing denominations and your country lacks the qualifications for being titled Pentecostal.

            In any criterion, we do know that the gospel must be presented and Christ must be the focal point of repentance and acknowledgement as our Savior, regardless of denomination.

          • Trezire Reforma

            Yes, most evangelicals are Pentecostals in my country, and in the last years most denominations did not grow except Pentecostals. So in this sens I think, J.M. putting that label so extensive it seems very damaging. An american organization tried to publish a book denying all spiritual gifts and baptism with the Holy Spirit. I went and told them, think of your rename, most readers in this country are Pentecostals that buy the other book you publish, think of humiliating statements this book makes against speaking in tongues people. So they gave up. I think J.M. did not think twice when he wrote a book like that in order to berry a movement world wide that grew by the power of the Holy Spirit around the world in hundred years so much that evangelicals not even dreamed. A lot of his statements are ridiculous, and leaders seem to restores religious wars like we had in Europe for hundred years, we do not use sword and guns (despite Americans have a lot) but we use electronic ink. They did not use their influence to call for a reformation in each movement, I a heard no word about masonry between baptists which it’s total incompatible with evangelical creed. http://penticostalism.blogspot.com

  • Guest

    Please inform your readers how Christ worshipped. It has no similarity to the charismatic form of worship, and if you can prove otherwise, please feel free to share. Where does the bible mention being slain in the Spirit!? Yet the charismatics have adopted this as if it were commanded by God in scripture. Your (charismatics) credibility alone is not worthy to be taken seriously on this matter or other issues pertaining to the gifts, worship, theology, and so on. Its blatantly obvious that the charismatic movement has always derived theology from experience and emotion rather than from sola scriptura.

    • Steve

      Cessationism derives its views from a lack of experience with God and hence is also a view that is derived from experience. Jesus criticized the Paraphrase for their drive to doctrinal purity but refused an experience with Jesus.

      On worship you setting up a straw-man argument. Being slain in the Spirit is not common practice across charismatic churches. I have spent many worship services and no one was slain in the Spirit.

      You ask the question, “Where does the bible mention being slain in the Spirit!?” I will answer this with a question: Does everything need to be spelled out in the bible for it to be a valid experience with God? This is a BIG difference between Mac Arthur and the Charismatic movement. There are many cases of people being slain in the Spirit in the bible but the bible does not use that terminology.

      If you really want to research this I recommend Heidi Baker’s book, “Compelled by Love”.

      On worship, this represents the heart of worship in the charismatic movement, and how dare you question the worship of a child of God to His creator. That is pure arrogance!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJXKos2PHcQ&list=PL_GXyOs8PZERVuHCsLL1_oXfLnVI1aRKn&index=11

  • Stuart Balmer

    Adrian – thanks for your blogging on all this, it’s really helpful. Thanks for taking the time to respond and put the opposit side of things, much appreciated.

    Couple of other points though: I’m a continuationist by theology, though I’m a leader in an cessasionist kind of church (they’d say they are not, but are in practice!) and I’ve felt quite hurt by some of the things that JM has implied about me in this conference. I really think he could have been a bit more nuanced in his statements and caused a lot less angst among those who by his own admission he accepts as brothers. His tone has been angry and frustrated at times. Bro Adrian, don’t fall into the same trap! (You sound a bit angry in this blog!)

    The other point though is that as painful as it has been to read much of what John M ( and the other speakers) have said I think he has raised some valid points, which in the heat that’s been created we should not lose sight of. Whilst I think he has painted with far too broad a brush it cannot be denied that some of the points he makes are valid and that maybe we should be more publicly honest about our concerns regarding Benny Hinn and his crowd. I think we do need to call his ilk out more often than we do. I do it in my church (sadly too many seem to take more notice of the TV preachers than they do of me and have picked up a whole load of rotten theology!!) but I don’t see it enough in the wider charismatic press and speakers in the UK.

    • Steve

      JENNIFER LECLAIRE has posted an article on charisma mag that say that Benny Hinn is back after reconciling with his wife. He is back with miracles happening according to the title of her article.

      Now, I’m not going to debate if the miracles are actual miracles and if they are from God for I do not have discernment at this time on that. I think the problem with the cessationist side is they are left with only interpreting the bible from a systematic theological approach. So, if they find something wrong theologically with some who claims to have miracles then they conclude that the miracles are false miracles. In cessationism the highest and ONLY connection you have with God is the purity of your doctrine. However, this leads to all kinds of arguments and disputes. I accept Christ in a cessationist church and doctrinal disputes ran wild at times. I would use Acts 2:38 at times as the ONLY litmus test to see if another person was saved. Jesus had to work hard but eventually brought me out of that kind of legalism.

      What if the Holy Spirit’s goal is NOT doctrinal purity on our side? Will the Holy Spirit work signs and wonders in someone even if they are off in some areas doctrinally? Is doctrinal purity the same as truth? I do not think it is. The Pharisees strived for doctrinal purity yet did not have truth.

      Truth comes is relationship with Jesus. If the Holy Spirit is manifesting Himself is various ways that are rejected by cessatonists how can they then come into all truth?

      Maybe the Holy Spirit does miracles in various men and ministries to draw attention to them because there is a BIG relationship point that the Holy Spirit wants the body of Christ to get that this man or ministry is displaying?

      What positives can we take from Benny Hinn or Bill Johnson or Mike Bickle?

      • Stuart Balmer

        Steve – I do not believe that everything Benny Hinn has said is wrong. In fact certain parts of his book ‘Good Morning Holy Spirit’ had a profoundly helpful influence on me as I moved from a cessationist position many years ago. I’m personally not willing to say he’s not a brother in the Lord. I’m not even willing to deny that the Lord may have done some miracles through him.

        You ask what benefits can we take from him and his ilk? here’s a few that immediately come to my mind:
        a) an emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit.
        b) a great eg of living in expectancy (faith) that God will act (I find many of my cessationist friends don’t really expect Him to – despite what they say!)
        c) a believe that God still gives his gifts to his people for the good of the church.
        d) an understanding that God is for us and not against us!

        So he’s not all bad (in my opinion)!

        HOWEVER, I do think that by saying and doing some of the things he says and does he is in danger of confusing people and taking their attention off Jesus. His emphasis on money, his tendency to imply a ‘name it and claim it’ attitude to prayer and his own unashamed lavish, flamboyant lifestyle, as well as some of his more off the wall teachings, are not helpful to the gospel – especially in poor countries where more people tend to be gullible when offered physical benefits as well.

        • Steve

          Very good points!

    • phishing4men

      “I’ve felt quite hurt by some of the things that JM has implied about me in this conference.” Funny thing Stuart I don’t remember any one mentioning your name at the Strange Fire Conference. If you spirit filled charismatics are so filled and controlled by Holy Spirit how is it you get your feelings hurt so easily?

  • gmonzeglio@mweb.co.za

    on the michael brown radio show the other evening, michael and phil johnson were arguing about the stats as to what constitutes the majority of the charismatic church. at one point michael brown made a request for funds to put him on TV side by side the “carnal-prosperity” minority guys (he claims). The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Ever wondered why whilst some guys are saying they operate on shoe-string budgets whilst being main-stream the “minority guys” (according to brown) have international satellite networks? some people live in never-never land. last night I had to counsel the lady who works for us about her apparently demon-possessed daughter in a rural area of south africa. I told her to get her away from the anointed man of god who just happened to pop into their village to hold 3 hour long meetings which have precipitated these manifestations and will direct her to a church and seminary in her area backed and sponsored by john macarthur’s so we can hopefully be direced to truth, sanity, Jesus, scripture and the gospel of peace and spared a life of manipulation and convulsions on the floor meeting after meeting, year after year. she can get that from the local wirchdoctor.

    • Steve

      So, gmonzeglio, I do not know about what is right for that woman. Nor do I know anything about that “man of god” that is coming into that village.
      You may be giving her very good advice.

      However, let me ask you this: Where did the demons go in the gospels? Did they all go into the pigs and then die? Do we have demons around today? Can a person be demon possessed today? Cessationism cannot deal with this issue. Its powerless to do so because all of the power is left in the 1st century.

      It was not until I left my cessationism that I started to see that I had authority over the demonic. My cessationist beliefs prevented me from seeing and accepting that demons are still here and active.

      • gmonzeglio@mweb.co.za

        Hi Steve. You surely dont believe that cessasionism means one doesnt believe in demons and demon possession? Not sure what it was you believed and I am sorry you were badly taught. The power all left in the first century? – so the gospel, the Word working by the Spirit has no power? interesting – sort of proves the point macarthur is trying to make – distinctive is signs as opposed to gospel. You can go ahead and claim all the authority you want. My “cessassionism” means that this young lady needs to hear the gospel, repent and maybe even renounce her ancestral spirit worship and trust in Christ for forgiveness, healing and deliverance. She needs the care and discipleship of a loving community of believers and real pastor-teachers. What she doesnt need is 5 hour long “deiverance” services run by self-appointed prophets and apostles with powerful jackets who hardly open a bible except to proof-text a verse to back up some “revelation” they have received.

        • Steve

          cessasionism by its very definition means that the manifestations of the Spirit as Paul describes them in 1 Corinthians were left in the 1st century. The power of the Word and the Spirit working in peoples lives is a demonstration that the power was not left in the 1st century. So if you claim that the Spirit works in peoples lives to heal them and deliver them from a demonic possession then you can’t claim that the manifestations were left in the 1st century.

          This is the fallacy of cessasionism. Cessasionists move in the gifts of the Spirit that they claim ceasest just not at a mature level. Again, your arguing on what those “men of god” are doing and I have NO WAY to debate or evaluate your claim. How do I know you are not telling a lie about it? How do I know that your the one not trying to lead that woman astray?

          I can not in this environment. What we can do is discuss the merits from a biblical perspective of cessasionism.

          If Cessasionists believe in demons are still here then surely they believe that demons can be cast out of people?

          I’ve had times after I left cessasionism where I would command under my breath for a demon to leave someone who was behaving badly (not going to go into what that behavior was) only to see their behavior change on a dime the moment I did this. I’ve seen this more than once. Now I do not do this all the time but when I fell the leading of the Spirit to do this I see this kind of a result.

          • gmonzeglio@mweb.co.za

            Shew Steve you have amazing power – hard to argue against that. And the demons left them and … did you preach the gospel to them in a an audible voice or did you convert them silently as well? After this exchange I am even more resolved to lead this woman astray and get her as far away from the “anointed man of god” syndrome as possible.

          • Steve

            Any yet, you cannot answer my questions from the scriptures. You accuse and claim I’m in error yet you will not go to the word of God. Where did the demons go in the gospels? If they are still here with us then how are we to deal with them? Jesus and the Apostles caste them out? We are NOT to do that today? What is your hermeneutic that defines how you deal with them since you claim they are here?

          • Steve

            Its funny, gmonzeglio, I have never said that these “men of god” are of God. I’m only trying to come to the scriptures and see what we are to do. I’m relating my testimony and now you call me a charlatan because I claim that I had a similar experience to what we find in the gospels. Who is being irrational here?

          • gmonzeglio@mweb.co.za

            Steve. I never called you a charlatan but I do question your claims of authority and like you say its impossible over this forum to prove anything. In fact that’s the whole criticism of the pente/charismatc movement. A lot of claims are made that simply cannot be backed up or we wouldnt be having this discussion. Real sign gifts are SELF-AUTHENTICATING. My testimony is exactly the opposite of yours – 16 years in pentecostalism hearing so called claims of “tongues” and prophecy and seeing how people are manipulated into this. No evidence of “apostles” clearing out sick villages like in Acts – bit harder to claim that than speaking in gibberish, yes gibberish Steve. Firstly demons are cast out by preaching the gospel which is our commission. Repentance and faith are the proper responses and have healed millions for 2000 years of demon possession/oppression. That’s primary. Secondly please show me where the apostles teach a dual baptism. And where it has to be evidenced by languages. In fact the opposite is taught. Then show me where the “change” was permitted in Bible that languages of strangers as SIGNS clearly seen at the real PENTECOST as well as Acts 10 etc now becomes ecstatic speech done in private. Since most of your argument for this is from Acts show me tongues practised in ACTS as private prayer languages. You cant and you cant take me to Paul’s and Peter’s today either because they dont exist and havent for 1900 years. That does not mean the gospel has been ineffective and God’s kingdom didnt advance – I have seen demon possesssion and seen the cure – called the Gospel – the very thing lacking from the modern charismatic televangelist message.. Millions have come to faith and believed and trusted and nations were turned around. Thirdly you cant STOP the Spirit of God doing things if he chooses to.After 100 years of pente signs and 40 years of charismania the world has turned the church upside down. Macarthur puts it down to this downgrade and many agree with him. I personally know hundreds of people who have come out of this mess all with testimonies” like yours and all who used to practise gibberish and their lives are far better today. God Bless.

          • Steve

            gmonzeglio,

            I will have to reply in parts due to the length of your last post.

            Mocking me is calling me a charlatan : “Shew Steve you have amazing power” Did Jesus mock?

            You question “my” power? That good, because I do not have any! Jesus does. Now which to you believe? Your experience or God’s word? Maybe in your experience you have not seen the casting out of demons BUT God’s word says that those that follow Jesus will do this:

            Mark 16:17, “And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons;…”

            Clear as day in the scriptures. Its Jesus name that does it, BUT, your also correct! Preaching the word of God AND people submitting to God gives them the power to resist the devil and he will flee!

            James 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

            So, I can resist the devil IF I submit to God AND I have the authority to cast out demons… This is for EVERY child of God not just me!

            You say that repentance and faith are the proper response. Yes… and? What does that have to do with what I am saying? I’ve said nothing different. What does Jesus say:

            Matt 12:43-45, ““When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the
            house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.””

            So, if we drive a demon out but there is no repentance and submission to God then the demons can return and the person’s condition will be worse off… This is not hard stuff theologically.

            Here in the States we rarely see demons manifest themselves like they are described in the gospels but it does happen. BUT things are changing. There are more and more things people are doing that are clearly demonically orchestrated. More and more accounts that parallel the gospel accounts are coming to life.

            I prefer not to have to deal with them. Cessationist theology has no room for them. They are left in the past like God is (in the sense of God manifesting Himself).

            Here is where MacArthur makes no sense. He attributes the charismatic expression to demons. Not emotionalism; not the flesh but demons.So on Mac Arthur’s world view demons are still manifesting today BUT God has gone home.

          • gmonzeglio@mweb.co.za

            Steve you must also do some work on textual criticism. Or else you must accept that the following should also be normative (as you claim your mumbling under your breath kind of exorcism is).
            Mar 16:17ff And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
            Dr Macarthur makes no sense Steve but you do.You are right after 40 years of charismatic revival we are now seeing more demonic possession and the collapse of Nations once blessed by God with much light – that makes a great deal of sense. We also need more snake handling churches. They have the REAL power not like second class bible teaching churches who just use english.

          • Steve

            gmonzeglio,

            I think the work on textual criticism is on your side. I see you using the test of, “well we don’t see snake handling and poison drinking in the church so that verse must be just 1st century.” kind of logic.I never said anything about what should be ‘normative’ but I have been talking about what is in scope. Is snake handling in scope? YES! But not for a show of entrainment but a show of power. Moses did it and Jesus said this IS a sign that will FOLLOW those who believe. Snakes are not a sign of power in the states so for a church here to engage it would be weird. But that does not mean that in another culture that may not be the case.

            The same logic holds for poison.

            You have totally mis-characterized what I am saying by claiming that I support your conclusion that its really the Charismatic that has brought the demons.

            With that comment I see no need to continue. We are not going to agree. I’d say that we need to agree to dis-agree and let the Lord judge for He is the true judge.

          • elainebitt

            I wanted to read your comment(s) but your first sentence here “cessasionism by its very definition means that the manifestations of the
            Spirit as Paul describes them in 1 Corinthians were left in the 1st
            century” displayed your ignorance of cessationism.

          • Steve

            Personnel attacks shows weakness.

  • http://helapingsten.wordpress.com/ Micael Grenholm

    Very good article, thank you very much! I made an open video letter to John MacArthur: The Top Seven Strange “Strange Fire” Statements: http://youtu.be/vqPf1TRbfvY

  • Kofi Adu-Boahen

    So…hymnody such as Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah and Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken is an “unbiblical alien intrusion”? Now you’re sounding as “broad-brushed” as you accuse MacArthur to be. We get it – you are upset by some of the statements and stances of the book/conference – but if this is the level of argumentation, we should expect, I should imagine our brother MacArthur has little to lose sleep over…

  • corbin mcnabb

    If MacArthur’s position is that problems with Hinn et al disqualify Charismatics, consider: Luther thought the Book of James should not be considered scripture, his actions during the Peasant Revolt could politely be considered questionable, and there is no way to be polite dealing with his statements about Jews. Calvin thought Sevetus should be beheaded for his non-trinitarian views (Sevetus was burned at the stake). There goes the Reformation. More importantly, in my opinion, the early church believed that you had to be Jewish to get saved for the first nine chapters of Acts. There goes the early church. Or, just maybe, God isn’t so impressed with JM as JM is. After all, 8,000 got saved after two messages (not a PA system in sight), folks got healed, angels were busy, and at least one person got raised from the dead. I haven’t spent much time studying Hinn, but I’m willing to bet he hasn’t advocated removing James fro the Bible, beheading people who disagree with him, or requiring Gentiles to become Jewish before the get saved. If MacArthur truly believes the principle of deficiencies of believers, disqualify the belief, he has a MAJOR problem.


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