Packer much more generous to charismatics.

For those, like me, feeling a bit beat up by the shenanigans, this article shows how Packer and the younger MacArthur strike a much more conciliatory tone on charismatics:

One of the wisest appraisals of the charismatic movement as a whole has come from the estimable J. I. Packer. Like John MacArthur, he is Reformed in theology and a cessationist in his understanding of spiritual gifts. Packer finds in the New Testament both a creedal and a moral test for judging whether movements are truly inspired of God or not, principles the apostles themselves applied in letters like Galatians, Colossians, 2 Peter, and 1 John. Packer writes:

When we apply these tests to the charismatic movement, it becomes plain at once that God is in it. For whatever threats and perhaps instances of occult and counterfeit spirituality we may think we detect around its periphery (and what movement of revival has ever lacked these things around its periphery?), its main effect everywhere is to promote robust Trinitarian faith, personal fellowship with the divine Savior and Lord whom we meet in the New Testament, repentance, obedience, and love to fellow Christians, expressed in ministry of all sorts towards them—plus a zeal for evangelistic outreach that puts the staider sort of churchmen to shame.

Back in 1978, John MacArthur himself was singing a somewhat similar tune. His first anti-charismatic book was an exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14, and the views he held on spiritual gifts back then are the same as those he espouses today. But in his first book, MacArthur was willing to allow that “charismatics truly love Jesus and the Scriptures. . . . I thank God for much that is happening in the charismatic movement. The Gospel is being proclaimed and many people are being saved. I also believe that through this movement some Christians are recognizing a certain new reality in Christ and making commitments that they have never made before.” What this debate needs is a fresh dose of the early MacArthur.

Read the rest atStrange Friendly Fire | First Things.

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