Strange Fire – A Charismatic Response to John MacArthur

Strange Fire – A Charismatic Response to John MacArthur October 19, 2013

See also the following posts: 

Christians have a long history of disagreeing with each other over doctrine. There is nothing new about that. Sometimes that disagreement can get quite heated. So for example, in the time when Wesley and Whitefield were arguing over Calvinism, Charles Wesley wrote a shameful hymn called “The Horrible Decree” which says of Calvinism:

Worthy of whence it came!
Forgive their hellish blasphemy

And much more besides.

As I concluded my post responding to MacArthur’s first session, such violent disagreements do dishonor to the one who saved us, and who prayed that we might be one.

I was saddened then by the hubris and the grandstanding, and even by the predictable confusion about exactly what happened when Mark Driscoll turned up (in a moment of high emotion its easy for people to get conflicting impressions of what transpired, see also this article).

Since I reported that MacArthur accused the Charismatic Movement en masse of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit I have been very concerned. That concern has not abated as the conference progressed.

During the confernce the following Tweet appeared on MacArthur’s account, and I replied with an open question to him:

To be clear, the only reason I mentioned “reformed” charismatics in that tweet was because it seemed to me that he had already determined that  the many non-reformed charismatics that I would count as my brothers and friends were not saved.

MacArthur’s closing address contained a few quotes that give an answer of sorts to that question (thanks to Cripplegate for the transcript from which these were taken):

“We have also been accused of being divisive. I would agree with that. Truth by its very nature is divisive. It’s why Jesus said I came to bring a sword, to divide people, families. Truth by its very nature is separated from error. And it is far more important to be divided by the truth than united by error . . .

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 .  . .

I’m convinced that the broader charismatic movement has opened the door to more theological error than any other theological aberration in this day. Liberalism, psychology, ecumenism, pragmatism, mysticism, are all bad. Nothing is as bad as Charismaticism because of its extensive impact. And once that kind of experientialism gets a foothold, there’s no brand of heresy that won’t ride it into the church.

Charismatic theology becomes the strange fire of our generation and we have no business flirting with it at any level.”

So, there you have it, I am a part of a movement which, according to MacArthur, is worse than liberalism, and which he said in the first session, has nothing good to offer the church, oh and “most” of us are not even Christians.

To be very clear, I have no problem with other Christians holding to a different posisition on the gifts of the Holy Spirit than I do. Many cessationists are similarly inclined to see charismatics as brothers, see for example this quote from Packer.

I do also recognise, as I have outlined in my Charismatic Spectrum there are many different possible positions. MacArthur seems to have missed all these nuances and simply want to reject all charismatic thinking as heretical.

In particular there is little or no attempt in this conference to separate doctrine and experience. What I mean is, when MacArthur claims a long stream of Christians in church history were theologically cessationist, he is absolutely correct.  Yet, for many of the people he cites, including many of the reformers, (see this talk), the Puritans (see this talk), Spurgeon, and others, despite their views on the supremacy of  Scripture, there was a strong focus on an experience of God.

This experientialism was key to the worldview of the Puritans. An awareness of the power of the risen Jesus at work in us was once seen as vital to the Christian walk by all. MacArthur even warns against books on prayer by E.M. Bounds in one of the Q and A sessions. It is very sad indeed if, as it at least appeared to me from this conference, that strong tradition has also been rejected.   Phil Johnson seems aware of our concern on this point and even quoted me in his second talk, as follows:

“What I want to know about Phil is not whether he speaks in tongues . . . but rather does he have an intimate, experience of the Spirit?” He went on to suggest that cessationism portrays God as “a passive and absent figure who has left us only an intellectual relationship with the Bible.”

But in the rest of his talk he doesn’t address at all the sense some Christians have of a real relationship with God. Perhaps many cessationists do feel they have such a personal relationship, but as Packer has once pointed out today most people dont like talking about such things. Piper speaks openly about “meeting God” in his quiet times, and this would be very similar to countless experiences described by Christians of old. This experiential Christianity from the past is something I outline in one of the chapters of my own book Raised With Christ which deliberately does not mention charismatic gifts, but strongly advocates this historic stream of knowing Jesus. You can download that chapter free.

What is fascinating also is that there are many examples of respected Christian leaders who would not have had a charismatic theology but who had experiences which we today would call prophecy. So you see for example please do watch this clip of Sam Storms describing Spurgeon’s remarkable experiences with this while preaching:

Clearly Spurgeon didn’t really have a category within his theology to explain things like that.

If MacArthur had said something like “Of course God grants certain experiences to people today, and they are even quite important at times, but we need to be more theologically precise about how we describe them,” that would have been one thing, to deny such experiences as demonic is something totally different.

Indeed, it is very possible to argue that between some more moderate cessationists and some more moderate charismatics many of the differences are ones of semantics.  Vern Poythess has argued this case in a couple of papers that are worth reading.  But MacArthur is apparently eager to throw out any chance of such experiences, and even the modern worship songs written by charismatics. To be consistent he would have to reject what is possibly the most popular modern hymn: In Christ Alone.

But to be fair to MacArthur, he does seem to allow two exceptions to the rule that even Reformed Charismatics have nothing good to offer: John Piper and Wayne Grudem.  But it is interesting the way he speaks about them in a Q and A session:

With John Piper, that is a complete anomaly. That is just so off everything else about him. It’s not that he speaks in tongues or prophesies. He admits that. But there’s this anomaly in his mind that’s open to that. He’s always stated it that way. He’s even made statements like, “I don’t know, I’m not sure, I don’t know exactly what to think.” That’s’ a far cry from propagation. Even Wayne Grudem. I look at this as an anomaly [in his theology]. I don’t know and don’t need to know where this impulse comes from. But I do know the great body of work that John Piper has done is true to the faith. John is a friend not only whom I admire but whom I love. I don’t know why on this front he has that open idea, but it’s not an advocacy position for the movement and he would join us in decrying the excesses of that movement for sure, and even the theology of it.

MacArthur doesn’t seem to give any credence to the idea that Piper may think the way he does about the charismatic because he is convinced by biblical arguments. But throughout the Strange Fire Conference there was no real attempt at interacting with charismatic theology, and our actual reasons for believing what we do. So RC Sproul outlined his case for baptism of the Holy Spirit not being a subsequent experience, but didnt address Lloyd-Jones famous comment:

“There is nothing, I am convinced, that so ‘quenches’ the Spirit as the teaching which identifies the baptism of the Holy Ghost with regeneration. . .  Got it all? Well, if you have ‘got it all’, I simply ask in the Name of God, why are you as you are? If you have ‘got it all’, why are you so unlike the Apostles, why are you so unlike the New Testament Christians?” READ MORE

Perhaps the closest to actually engaging us was Tom Pennington’s talk, The case for cessastionsim, but even there little of what we actually think was addressed as my friend Andrew Wilson has ably pointed out.

As another example of a failure to engage with other perspectives, several times during the event the blatantly unbiblical claim that prophecies and other gifts were only ever given to authenticate Scripture-writers was made. As I outlined in a post before the conference began, it is patently clear that much prophecy discussed in the Bible had nothing to do with creating Scripture.

Instead of engaging theologically with our views, they either outlined their own, or as is in both the talks by Conrad Mbewe went into detail of the many horrid things that some in the charismatic movement do. Some sessions were spent watching video clips and simply mocking the extremes which are then used as a stick to beat us all over the head with.

To be honest, watching Phil Johnson’s first talk did make me ask myself: do I speak out about charismatic abuses often enough? Its not that I don’t recognise the problem. For example, I could easily speak volumes about the horror I felt when I watched the broadcast of God TV rehabilitating Todd Bentley and justifying restarting screening his bizarre meetings. Once I start down that route, though, where do I stop? As I said, in a tweet do I really have the time?

For that matter, surely spending my focus on highlighting the good things is a better use of my time? If people are taught to recognise real money by studying it, when fake currency turns up they will identify it in an instant.  I am surprised how much time some of these folks seems to spend hunting out increasingly bizzare YouTube videos. Surely building and declaring a true model of the Christian life is a better use of our time?

Some of what MacArthur said during this event was patantly and blatantly untrue. For example he claimed that charismatics are not engaged in social action:

People who have any connection to Judaism and Christianity have a connection to philanthropy. It is a striking anomaly, however, that there is essentially zero social benefit to the world from the charismatic movement. Where’s the charismatic hospital? Social services? Poverty relief? This is a scam. SOURCE

Has he never heard of YWAM’s Mercy Ministries, of Rick Warren’s PEACE campaign?  The list goes on and on. It is simply an untruth to claim that charismatics don’t care for the worlds poor.

I’d like to end with a video which demonstrates that it is possible for us to talk about issues that we disagree strongly about without rejecting one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. Thanks to Justin Taylor for posting this earlier this week.

But before I do, may I encourage you to read the rest of my posts about this conference and book, as well as  Frank Viola’s Refutation of Strange Fire in 7 points.

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  • Nick Uva

    Nicely done. In the case of Piper, his honest dealing with the text allows him to see that NT prophecy isn’t perfect.

    • Guest

      You stated, “Instead of engaging theologically with our views, they either outlined their own, or as is in both the talks by Conrad Mbewe go into detail of the many horrid things that some in the charismatic movement do.” What the conference made clear is that this is not isolated to some in the charismatic movement. This is a wide-spread movement. It makes up the larger whole of those who would claim to be evangelicals. This is not the fringe group of evangelicalism. While many other things could be said about this article, I think one should note that John Piper is highly esteemed by John MacArthur and the other speakers as a brother in Christ. It was clearly shared that he is a fellow laborer for the gospel and one who is admired by many, a scholar of the highest degree, but unfortunately, he has been less critical on his analysis of spiritual gifts than he has been on other doctrinal positions. I plead for you to consider all the Strange Fire content which will become available by Grace To You before making quick judgements as to what you think was or was not said at the conference. I think you will find that there was careful and thoughtful interaction with the theological views of the charismatic movement.

      • Chris Okogwu

        Well stated there.
        Thank you for that.

      • Nick Uva

        Hello friend. I think your comment was directed to Adrian and not to me.

  • Keith Bachman

    I am VERY gratified that Jesus recognizes just who is “The Body of Christ” & who isn’t ! HE hasn’t left the decision of “Who is & Who isn’t” to me or you – it is HIS alone —

  • David Housholder

    Well done. I also have a response to John MacArthur and #StrangeFire >> John 21:25, John 14:12

  • Cody Weckerly

    You stated, “Instead of engaging theologically with our views, they
    either outlined their own, or as is in both the talks by Conrad Mbewe go
    into detail of the many horrid things that some in the charismatic
    movement do.” What the conference made clear is that this is not
    isolated to some in the charismatic movement. This is a wide-spread
    movement. It makes up the larger whole of those who would claim to be
    evangelicals. This is not the fringe group of evangelicalism. While many
    other things could be said about this article, I think one should note
    that John Piper is highly esteemed by John MacArthur and the other
    speakers as a brother in Christ. It was clearly shared that he is a
    fellow laborer for the gospel and one who is admired by many, a scholar
    of the highest degree, but unfortunately, he has been less critical on
    his analysis of spiritual gifts than he has been on other doctrinal
    positions. I plead for you to consider all the Strange Fire content
    which will become available by Grace To You before making quick
    judgements as to what you think was or was not said at the conference. I
    think you will find that there was careful and thoughtful interaction
    with the theological views of the charismatic movement.

    • Im sorry but I disagree. What is seen all too often on TV is not what the vast majority of pentecostal and charismatics support.

      • Cody Weckerly

        Then what is being done by those who share the title “pentecostal or charismatic” to warn the flock and point out the false teachers?

        • Daddy50

          Written by Dr. Michael Brown, a leader in the charismatic movement, in 1990:

          • Cody Weckerly

            I appreciate the article you posted. I can agree with much of what he had to say. This article demonstrates an honest attempt by a charismatic leader to keep people from seeking a health and wealth gospel. This is one example of warning people about a false prosperity gospel. The article still doesn’t give a full answer to my question. Even when one gets the gospel correct, it still does not excuse him for disregarding what the bible says on other issues (i.e. signs, tongues, and prophecy) or excuse him from speaking against unbiblical practices or teachings that come across his path.

          • Guest

            The same kind of question could be asked to all who align themselves with the protestant reformers. Where are all the protestant leaders denouncing Martin Luther’s anti-Jewish writings? Where are all the protestant leaders denouncing any of the errors of the protestant reformers? You may say, “I assume many have renounced those errors at one time or another”, and I would say, I assume many have renounced charismatic errors, too, and maybe not all at one time or in one publication, etc. To have somewhat of a standard that all abuses and scandals must be publicly repudiated at any given time by a charismatic leader seems to be a double standard. I sympathize in the sense that I’d like to see all errors repudiated and exposed, but let’s be honest with each other about our human limitations and not devour each other because we may disagree about the Holy Spirit’s activity.

          • Cody Weckerly

            I agree. Let’s not devour each other. And yes, there are certainly human limitations, but there’s still no excuse for the blatant disregard that characterizes a large segment of the charismatic movement. Such a disregard is not true of all. But I think most people are still greatly underestimating who makes up the whole of this movement. As already mentioned, MacArthur is not saying all Charismatics and Penetecostals stand condemned. That would be a gross misrepresentation of his position. Charity is given towards those who disagree about the Holy Spirit’s activity. To note though, this is more than just a little disagreement over the Holy Spirit. I can’t elaborate here, but I encourage you to listen to the Strange Fire content as it becomes available and read the book before judging what it is you think MacArthur and others have said. The book is well researched and documented and you will be able to fact check any statements.

          • Mason J

            So basically this whole thing was a ploy to get people to read MacArthur’s book? Cool.

          • Dude

            Cool. Somebody wrote something 23 years ago. Good to see the movement is fulfilling its duty of care with all diligence and urgency.

          • David Krause
      • Donna Carlaw

        Adrian, do you mean the vast majority of Pentecostal and Charismatics in the English-speaking world of the former British colonies? If so, then I might agree. If you leave that world, though, you find all sorts of syncretistic strange fire that does tend to characterize the movement as a whole. Even Pentecostal missionaries are shocked by some of what goes on.

        Although I do agree that MacArthur’s position is too extreme and cannot be sustained by the Bible alone, I also see a need for greater discernment coming from within the Charismatic movement. Maybe a greater number of Biblically sound Charismatics and Pentecostals will take up that challenge by boldly standing up to the false teachers among them. Maybe MacArthur’s challenges will result in that. One can only hope.

      • Outsider

        Maybe that affirmation of yours it is true in the UK and even in the USA but sadly in Latin America (where I am) it is not.


  • Jordan S.

    Adrian Warnock has, once again, confused his understanding of things with the truth. He is divisive, arrogant, and often careless with his accusations. Confidence is never an excuse for ignorance, but that tragic mix up is an evangelic Olympic sport in which AW is a multiple gold medal winner.

    • Thanks for the encouragement! But please believe me when I say that I am only taking what to me are the natural meanings and implications of what he is saying.

      • Jordan S.

        And we keep telling you that you are wrong, you are entitled to misunderstand any statements you want, but when you post them for all to see, you will have some pushback from those who love and appreciate those you criticize. Brother you are confused and angry, and to a certain degree I understand, because speaking in tongues and performing miracles is something you hold very dear to your heart. But your Anger is causing you to overreact to the conference, and because of your “taking natural meanings and implications” you are posting misunderstandings as facts for all to see. I hope you read my transcript of Macarthur talking about Piper down below.

        • Scotty Gay

          I couldn’t have said it better, Jordan. Thank you for posting this.

        • Andre de Kock

          I think Adrian addressed my MAIN concern, which came from a statement by MacArthur, very eloquently and NONE of the folk addressing him here, yourself INCLUDED, have tried to answer the question based on the statement made by MacArthur, which is actually a GROSS generalisation. In his comments at this conference MacArthur has CLEARLY stated that ALL Charismatics everywhere are UNSAVED and BLASPHEME the Holy Spirit!!!

          Notwithstanding the differences in belief and understanding of the Scriptures between Charismatic Pentecostals and the Cessasionists, how can ANY of you stand with MacArthur and claim that ALL Charismatics are unsaved and blaspheme the Holy Spirit?

        • Faith
  • Jordan S.

    Todd Friel: We would say John Piper and Wayne Grudem are brothers. Here are some biblical scholars that many of us love who are saying things that are causing us to scratch our heads. How do we respond to these men? With whom do we associate? With whom do we break associations?

    John MacArthur: With John Piper, that is a complete anomaly. That is just so off everything else about him. It’s not that he speaks in tongues or prophesies. He admits that. But there’s this anomaly in his mind that’s open to that. He’s always stated it that way. He’s even made statements like, “I don’t know, I’m not sure, I don’t know exactly what to think.” That’s’ a far cry from propagation. Even Wayne Grudem. I look at this as an anomaly [in his theology]. I don’t know and don’t need to know where this impulse comes from. But I do know the great body of work that John Piper has done is true to the faith. John is a friend not only whom I admire but whom I love. I don’t know why on this front he has that open idea, but it’s not an advocacy position for the movement and he would join us in decrying the excesses of that movement for sure, and even the theology of it. So I think if we start shutting everybody down who has got one thing they’re not clear on, we’re going to really find ourselves alone. That’s going too far. I have no fear that John would ever tamper with anything that is essential to the Christian faith, starting from theology proper all the way through to the return of Christ. He’s going to be faithful to the word as he understands it. I have the same issue with R. C. Sproul. I want to say to him: why are you baptizing babies? Everything else is so clear, and yet there’s that one issue. I fully embrace the range of his commitment and the impact of his ministry. This is where love comes in to embrace faithful men. I know I’m wrong somewhere, and if you can show me where please show me, because I would change. I know somewhere I’m wrong, because none of us has a complete control of all truth. And I hope to have the same charity from them, that I would eagerly extend to them.

    This is why all the nonsense being thrown at JMac is ridiculous.

    • Cody Weckerly

      Thank you for posting that transcript. I am grateful for the charity and graciousness with which MacArthur and the other speakers have extended toward those they disagree with throughout the conference.

    • And yet while virtually all Charismatics agree with MacArthur that Sproul (and Presbyterianism proper) does not understand understand baptism, MacArthur continues to operate under the presupposition that continuationism is false—calling it an “anomaly” within the otherwise accurate theology of Piper/Grudem—without interacting with Piper or Grudem’s understanding of the precious few passages upon which cessationism rests.

  • Arda

    Adrian, I am very very grateful for you. Thank you for this relevant response and all the resources you’ve linked. I went to the strange fire conference and came out with a newfound appreciation for the BIBLICAL position of the gifts and brothers like Piper, Grudem, Chandler and yourself. I agree with everything you said here, and found myself saying the same throughout the conference. Your point of speaking out against the abuses is well taken. But THANK GOD He empowers us! What a wonderful, liberating, strengthening and edifying truth this is. Press on dear brother. Press on with truth and love.

    • Thanks for the encouragement! Please pray for me, especially for the radio appearance later today. (see my next blog post)

  • Daddy50

    Despite the fact that God in Scripture admonishes us not to call ourselves after men (1 Cor. 1:11-13, et al), all of those who who spoke at this conference openly identify themselves as “Calvinists.”

    Well, then what are to make of Theodore Beza’s biographical report that Calvin confessed to Beza that he (Calvin) spoke in an unknown language in his private devotions?

    Not only that, Arnold Bittlinger in _Gifts and Graces_ (p. 68) quotes Calvin as asserting that “God [still] calls forth apostles ‘as they are needed at different times’ (prout temporum necessitas posulat, Institutes IV/3/4)/”

    Yes, we are all aware that Calvin is considered a bedrock of cessationism, yet all good Reformed adherents will acknowledge that Calvin was quite fallible and his opinions should be measured against Scripture. Nonetheless, here we have two apparent instances where Calvin himself appears to deviate from the cessationist party line.

    • Daddy50

      I should clarify that Calvin believed the ministries of apostle, prophet and evangelist had ceased and were not ordinary after New Testament times. However, he left the door open that God has and could yet raise up men in these 3 ministries, which if I am not mistaken, MacArthur would not at all endorse.


        Has he? Scripture tells us who they WERE and they accepted the title. Who are the modern ones? Apostles and prophets. Names please so we can know who they are. Has scriptural revelation ceased? who said so? Bible doesnt state a word about that. No biblical reason charismats shouldnt have 660/6600 NT books then? inconsistent?

        • Those who believe in modern apostles believe that there are two foundational roles for apostles. 1. In building foundations for the church universal and 2. in building derivative foundations for individual churches. It is only that second sense that has continued. So, in some senses we are all cessationists I will grant!


            Thanks for replying but … do you not see the problem? Firstly some cessassionism is granted. Who decides what? What about the scriptures then.? Where are the verses that talk about a closed Canon unless – Eph 2:20 and foundation and signs and Apostles and Prophets and SCRIPTURES are all related as all orthodox believers have held to for 1900 years years until Azusa street ( of course there were the montanists, zwickau prophets, edward irving etc tragedies as well). Next problem – we have type 2 apostles now with a lower case a, fallible prophecies, ecstatic speech as opposed to languages and no verses to back it up but macarthur is the one not engaging biblically? NT age has a downgraded Holy Spirit manifestation with lower criteria – impossible. And you cant see that this is what has caused the mayhem that Strange Fire is trying to help put right? Or even the weakness of movements like Sovereign Grace and the problems they even had in their relatively short history due to these very modern teachings. Sorry, still no baby in the bath water for me – seen it, done it, got the Tshirt. The Holy Spirit movement will be a back to the scriptures movement which is definitely what the charismatic movement has not been in GENERAL – a wicked and adulterous generation has signs as their main distinctive. blessings.

          • Christian

            As far as I know, an Apostle is a Church Planter…that is good enough for me.

    • As far as labels are concerned, identifying oneself as a “Calvinist” is an identification with the same soteriological conclusions as Calvin, not his view on the charismatic gifts. We can agree with his soteriology (for this is what we find in Scripture) though we may disagree on eschatology, ecclesiology, etc.

      As far as the link is concerned, please note, as one of the commentators did: 1. it was confided to Beza “shortly” before his death; 2. it did not bring him spiritual zeal; 3. he did not seek it nor promote it. Also, if you read Calvin’s works yourself and not Bittlinger’s, you would gain a better understanding of what Calvin said and see that on both accounts, Calvin does not “deviate from the cessationist party line.”

  • Cory

    As someone who has grown up in British African-Caribbean Pentecostalism and had a decent amount of exposure to other Pentecostal arenas including notably the African context from which Mbewe spoke I wholly disagree that his first talk (I haven’t watched/listened to the second one) was on the money and by no means a generalisation – a caution I myself have had with this conference and seen realised in some parts.

    • Cory

      *I wholly disagree that his talk was not on the money and that it was a generalisation

  • Mark

    One has to wonder if his charge of “anomaly” in the theologies of Piper and Grudem might also be true of J Mac

  • eagerday

    I think you totally misunderstand MacAurthur;s comment ” People who have any connection to Judaism and Christianity have a
    connection to philanthropy. It is a striking anomaly, however, that
    there is essentially zero social benefit to the world from the
    charismatic movement. Where’s the charismatic hospital? Social services?
    Poverty relief? This is a scam.” by your accusation that it is patently and blatantly untrue. MacAurthur is not making a comment on whether or not Charismatic’s have a heart for ministries your example YWAM’s Mercy Ministries and Rick Warren’s Peace ministry. What he is saying is if Charismatics who claim to have extra gifts from the Spirit, as in healing and in health and weath movements were speaking the truth and not a scam, they would be opening and operating hospitals and clinics to heal the world. They would also open up welfare offices to relieve poverty making everyone healthy and wealthy. If this gift was a true gift would not this be happening around the world for all to see, Since that is not happening with the Charismatic movement his conclusion is, therefore, it is a scam. I believe that is the point he was attempting to make verses the conclusion you came to. However, you might not agree with that point either.

    • Guest

      the only problem with your whole statement is that its not biblical. Jeus said the poor you will have with you always. MaAuthur know that you are putting words in his mouth to defend him. while actually he is saying that charismatics have no hospitals, Yet I can name a Pentecostal organization tht has over 300000 missions worldwide in over 212 countries build schools and churches and hospitals that of my head and just one group I can promise you there are more.


  • Adrian,
    I’m not Reformed, but I’ve read your writing for years, and I’ve always appreciated your tone and the balanced approach you take. I’m an evangelical—Wesleyan and charismatic. I watched much of the Strange Fire conference online—and although it’s hard to give John MacArthur the benefit of the doubt, I watched with an open mind. It felt like the “Get Off My Lawn” conference. The fact that an entire conference was dedicated to throwing rocks at other believers was remarkable in itself. Not only that, it was to promote a book that does the same thing. It’s interesting that Thomas Nelson is the publisher—they’ve published Jack Hayford’s Spirit-filled Life Bible and resource line for years.

    The tone of the conference was condescending and offensive, with a few exceptions. One thing, however, that they accomplished was giving me a new appreciation for John Piper and Mark Driscoll. To me, being open to the work of the Holy Spirit is much more important than our differences regarding TULIP.

    • Thanks, I agree, especially with your last point. Most of my friends are reformed charismatics (or cessationists) but its a delight to share fellowship with those who are Jesus and Bible loving but disagree on the finer details of soteriology.

    • And if it can be shown that Scripture supports the cessationists’ understanding, then what exactly are you being “open to”? This is exactly the point driven by the conference. Being “open” to the Holy Spirit does not mean throwing caution to the wind or praying until you get some burning in your bosom. And I agree that those who hold to an opposite view would perhaps find it “condescending and offensive,” but that’s the nature of theological/doctrinal controversies, especially in an area that is riddled with false teachers where people who come out of such are plagued with emotional distress. Both areas you mentioned are equally important for a correct understanding in both should affect how we live out our lives as Christians.

  • Jaco De Beer

    Hallo Adrian, just a very simple comment to give you a different perspective on cessationists.

    I am a cessationist. For me it means the following: Tongues and prophecy for example has ceased in the church where God’s word is available in a language that everyone can understand. 2 Pet 1:19 says a MORE SURE prophetic word (Bible is available that we should head. Thus if the Bible is available, I see no need for tongues and prophecy. God is logical and make sense and it does not make sense that He has said a more sure prophetic word is available and now He still bring prophecy in the presence of His word. What will a person prophecy in the presence of God’s word. Will he repeat something out of the Bible because he cannot go beyond the boundaries of Scripture. This is just in a nutshell. There are obviously many situations around this. This is just to explain the principle for me about cessationism.

    Also it is a false view that cessationism mean one cannot have a full experience with Christ. For me Christ is very real. I do not need tongues or prophecy to have a full experience with Him daily which I have. I experience Him intensely sometimes and for me He is very real and I do not speak in tongues neither do I prophecy. So you see I think the big misleading thing is that people seek after tongues, prophecy and gifts, because they think it will give them the closeness with Christ. That is a lie. You do not need gifts to have a close intimate experiential relationship with Christ to the extend that He is very real to you. I have all that without any of these sign gifts.

    If that can be true for me and many cessationists, why do we need tongues and prophecy to have any experience with God. In prayer I experience a closeness with Christ and i believe it is important, because Christ is real and the Spirit live in us. You see the problem is when we start saying that the gifts give this closeness. Gifts was never intended to give the closeness. It was for building the body and not the self.

    And then God can still use a miracle and enable someone to speak in a tongue to proclaim the wonders of God when His word in a persons language is not available. This is God’s sovereign right and I think even the Westminster allow for this sovereignty. This also fits completely into the cessationist view. But I and many cessationists do not view this as ‘ gift, but a miracle under God’s sovereignty. In the NT a gift was given to a person and it was under the control of the person to exercise or not. I get the idea the person had the gift. The example I explained was not necessarily repeated.

    • I rejoice in those that experience God whatever they call it. Thanks for sharing, very few cessationists talk openly about their relationship with Christ, Im guessing for fear of being labelled closet charismatics!

  • Greg Peterson

    So basically, your response to John MacArthur and the Strange Fire conference is: “I disagree.” I don’t see any content/rebuttal here.

    Oh, and BTW, if I remember correctly, JM said folks that hold to
    charismatic theology (like yourself) must respond to THE BOOK, not the
    talks or the conference. So, when you have a biblical, helpful response
    to the book Strange Fire, then I will be happy to return and read them.

  • Rick Andrade

    Thank you for showing me how thin skinned and easily offended I am.

  • Seeking Disciple

    Well written brother.

  • BrendtWayneWaters

    To be fair, MacArthur said (in his tweet – emphasis mine), “We’re TRYING to identify the body of Christ [with this conference].” Sometimes when someone tries, they succeed. Sometimes they fail. And occasionally, they EPIC FAIL.


    Dear Adrian. i grew up catholic and was saved in a conservative pentecostal church where I spent 16 years honestly trying to make sense of all this. The teachings and claims didnt match what I saw in practise. Apart from the gibberish induced by peer presssure and “prophecy” there was no evidence of true Biblical sign gifts as seen in Acts even by the so-called apostles. A bit harder to heal lifelong paralytics and blind men than claim “special revelation” and speak in so called languages of angels because it was clear that they werent the languages of men as seen in the book of Acts in fulfilment of Isaiah 28. You say there is no biblical warrant for what John Macarthur is saying. The most charismatic chapter in the NT ie 1Cor 12 makes it clear that there is one spirit baptism that all believers are partakers of and hence gifted accordingly. The whole purpose of this chapter is UNITY and the priesthood of all believers as opposed to the “anointed man of God” syndrome. Paul then exhorts us to be mature in understanding in chapter 14 talking about tongues. Calls it a sign gift and not a private prayer language and states categorically that it is a fulfilment of a prophecy and dispels any notion of angelic speech – languages of strangers ie non-jews. Whole point of gospel and NT which is about coming of the Spirit. The true church teachers have understood this for 1900 years. It is also stated that the Spirit gives the gifts sovereignly as HE wills – maybe reformed charismatics arent as reformed as they would make out. Or maybe (as they do) it is them claiming to be super spiritual and part of a select spiritual movement to whom God gives special gifts that he witholds from people like baptists and presbyterians – another concept foreign to scripture unless you were one of the super-apostles Paul talks about. This was never supposed to bring division but unity. It is not a phenomenon experienced by only certain parts of the church calling itself “charismatic” – you have hijacked a word and claimed manifestations most of which are now private “signs” – interesting concept unseen in book of Acts where no-one does gifts in private especially not tongues wherever they are mentioned because they were true biblical tongues. Phil Johnson is correct when he says there is NO BABY in the batwater as charismats like to point out. Steve Lawson thankfully took us back to the ancient landmarks and teachers that built Nations not destroyed them – all of them were cessassionist. After 40 years of this so-called charismatic revival we are now debating homosexual ordination, same-sex marriage in the church – some revival. We are in the midst of a full blown downgrade ( i have 66 volumes of spurgeons sermons with index and cant find a single reference to the practises you decribe as orthodox) and men who should know better are handing out rope to the very thing that helped cause this scripture-reduction movement. As a fan of John Piper I have listened carefully to his early 90’s sermon on gifts. It is embarassing. He mentioned two piles of books – one with names and the other with no-names (just as well). The un-named group were proven to be false prophets if you use biblical definitions of false prophets and not Wayne Grudem’s version. I lived through the Toronto movement spurred on by those books, I saw the carnage. Please dont tell me it is a sideshow or you are obviously living in a different world to the one I am in. The Bible also tells us that God gave a foundation to Apostles and Prophets as a faithful deposit – we have just seen this truth defended against muslims in numerous debates where I live by Dr James White. The fact that some are trying to re-lay it when we should be building the roof is maybe evidence that it is another. I had heard good things about your blog by cessassionists like james White and Phil Johnson – this was disappointing. The fact that we are even arguing such things is evidence of the lack of evidence. True sign gifts were self-authenticating like Acts 3 – and would happen at the gates of the Vatican and not only in the jungles of Burundi via hearsay unless we are left with ecstatic speech, false propehcies by the ton and pornographic divination by preachers with a propensity for foul language as a replica of the work of the Spirit in the early church. Quite sad. Well done John Macarthur for AGAIN speaking out to a church frightened of any form of politically incorrect speech and truthful self-examination. God Bless Johannesburg South Africa.

    • Dan Amo

      I just discovered this discussion.

      It is interesting, that I too came from a Catholic background into a conservative (non-cessationist) Pentecostal church 20-plus years ago, and experienced the same evidence of peer pressure prophecies and promotion of consonant-vowel-blend practice sheets for easing the obtaining of a spiritual gift of gibberish tongues. While my friends were centering all effort on obtaining gifts, there was never evidence of purity, godliness or holiness in these associates as a motive, sadly even now many years later – some having fallen prey to pride in the extreme…

      I was also involved in the occult and demonically tormented before Jesus Christ of Nazareth set me free (completely) and allowed me to show others how to be free of demonic power and judicial claims through obedience to and love for Christ. Our kingdom is not a kingdom of words, but a display of God’s power, to the glory of HIS Name – which is called after our experiences – in my case “The-Lord-Is-My-Deliverer”…

      When I consider John MacArthur’s example against Driscoll, Bentley and so many others – though I don’t agree with everything doctrinally, I will much sooner be a disciple of Grace to You and The Master’s Seminary than any other ministry I know.

      Peace and Love in Christ.

  • God & Culture

    Adrian, you write: “MacArthur seems to have missed all these nuances and simply want to reject all charismatic thinking as heretical.” John MacArthur is not only one of the most articulate preachers in conservative evangelicalism, he also evidences a mind of deep thought and wide reading. MacArthur hasn’t missed any of the nuances of the Charismatic movement. He dug at the root of its error and the non-cessationists (continuationists) who are otherwise orthodox now have to wrestle with their own consciences in the face of the clear teaching of Scripture as presented at the Strange Fire conference. And you don’t like it.

    • The thing is there are many equally strongly Bible-loving, scholars who disagree! We need to see this as like baptism, eschatology and other such matters. IE something genuine christians disagree genuinely about.

      • Donna Carlaw

        Utter nonsense! JM is not talking about the finer points of theology. He is talking about men like Benny Hinn. All Bible-loving, sheep-serving men of God of all stripes should rise up in condemnation of men like him. No excuse. He blasphemes the Holy Spirit. THAT is what JM is talking about.

  • Misty Lynn

    I really really appreciated that last video. What humble men!! This is love. These men are such an example to how God would want us to treat one another as brothers and sisters. If any love what so ever was in that first preview video John MacArthur had on his strange first site then maybe I’d considered listening to his confernece. Instead it so full of hate, so that in itself had me on alert (matthew 24) that it couldn’t possibly be from our Lord. When Jesus tells us that LOVE is most important when it comes to any commanment or gift .. then that’s how we know what comes from His leading. Having said all that …. I never ever knew that there were two totally different Christian worlds out there. For 15 years we’d been in a cessessionist church.. I didn’t even know that was a word! We had know idea .. we were blinded that we had God in a box. Then over a period of a few months God allowed people to come into our lives, we went a visited another church, and then sitting in our own blinders fell from our eyes.. our hearts. We saw.. we felt the difference.. here we’d been worshipping with a group of people that were not bound by their traditinos.. they were truly free … they were authentic… transparent… and it was refreshing. We felt the presence of the Spirit, so when we back to church we then felt the absence of… we had no choice but to follow our Lord’s leading.. it was just too apparent. Now this whole other world is open to us…. and I’m shocked that there are two camps… that so much wasn’t taught to us.. 1 Cor 14 for example … that we didn’t get it.. we just didn’t get it… and now to see yet so many of our brothers are hardening themselves even more so with all of this harshness.. wow.

  • Adrian, you have an uncanny knack for raising the same questions again and again but refusing to hear answers you don’t like. Many of the complaints you are reciting here are matters you and I have dialogued about for years, and no matter how frequently and candidly I reply to you, you continually kvetch about your adversaries’ refusal to dialogue on your terms.

    Proper “dialogue” includes careful listening when someone responds to your argument. I find it incredible (and incredibly frustrating) that you sat through the session where I replied to you and summarized it here by saying, “[Phil] doesn’t address at all the sense some Christians have of a real relationship with God.”

    On another matter, if you had expressed half this level of outrage over the “horror” that was Todd Bentley when he was at the peak of his popularity, your advice on how discernment ought to be exercised might have a tincture of credibility. But at the time, although people were looking to you for counsel and expressly raised questions about Bentley’s unholy stage persona and his hideous methodology, you steadfastly refused to speak a word against Bentley, remember?

    That’s very close to the heart of the point we are trying to make. Selah.

    • Dear brother, I think we both feel like we are talking past each other. But please humor me for a moment and point to where you or MacArthur speak about the place of experiencing a relationship with God. To me that is the key, no matter what we call it when it happens. I’ve also not seen you address some of the standard fare arguments we use eg about the place of prophecy in the Bible itself and it’s disconnect from Scripture writing (see for example this post: , and the whole of 1 Corinthians which is written to a group of people excercisig gifts none of whom as far as we can tell were apostles who needed their ministry accredited. If you want to see an example of the kind of engagement that is needed the video at the end of this post is surely a better example than any at Strange Fire.

      But far more critical to me is the way y’all are escalating this issue to a gospel one, don’t seem to give credence to the idea that many of us are charismatic because we feel the Bible commands it. I don’t expect you o change your mind about the issue but not accusing the majority of us of being unbelievers would be a good start! On me not rebuking abuses, I did speak a bit about Bentley early on though subtly. But I have considered whether I will need to speak out more in the future. But as I say in the post I prefer to be positive rather than giving attention to most of this nonsense coming from some charismatics. I want to be winsome to the wacky charismatics too. But as I say I will continue to mull over these things.

      • Donna Carlaw

        Adrian, there is a great need for those whinin the Charismatic movement to address the very real excesses that we missionaries have to deal with on a daily basis. You have no idea what it’s like out in the trenches. You really don’t. I can tell because you think that you can stay positive in the light of such gross error and mistreatment of the flock of God at the hands of evil men who masquerade as pastors.

        It’s nice to talk about counterfit money since we know that such a thing exists. What about the vast majority of Charismatics worldwide who don’t even know that there is a counterfit Gospel that is different from the true Gospel? Please read the comments from those from other countries so you can understand a bit better where someone like me is coming from. I can assure you that I am not in the “party lines” or “standard arguments’ category. Maybe you are not able to understand, and I cannot fault you for that.

        BTW, I have Pentecostal and Charismatic friends and colleagues who are very concerned about the false teachers and prophets who try to lead the sheep away and abuse them. There need to be more voices, it seems to me.

        Take care.

        • I will continue to take these thoughts carefully under consideration. Thanks

          • Donna Carlaw

            It’s a start. I really hope you do.

            I’m not particularly talking about whacky Charismatics, any more than I am talking about whacky non-Charismatics. I am talking about false teachers, prophets, and those who could very well be described in Ezekiel 24. Those false shepherds were not just a bit whacky in an endearing way – like my goofy uncle Garnet, whom I loved dearly. They are evil. How do you deal with evil in your midst? You certainly don’t want to be winsome to an evil man.

            Then, one more thought. You asked where JM talks about a relationship with God. You may not mean it that way, but it sounds as if you are actually saying that because JM does not talk in a certain way about his personal relationship with God, he may not have one at all. Do you really think that?

          • Donna Carlaw

            Take to your knees and let these thoughts break your heart for the sheep who are being torn apart by the wolves. Let the Spirit teach you what that means. Start with Ezekiel 34, which shows what the Spirit thinks of false shepherds. Read through the Major and Minor prophets in the OT to see what the Spirit reveals about the evil that false prophets and teachers are engaged in. Quit reading Piper and Grudem and even MacArthur for awhile, and let the Word speak to you by the Spirit of God. Then get back to us.

          • Faith

            As a young charismatic Christian, it has shaken my trust in today’s leading men of God that they refuse to speak openly and warn of patent abuses and false doctrines within the movement. My husband and a couple of close friends are Brownsville Revival students. When the so-called revival in Lakeland began, we all knew something just wasn’t right. It was so confusing to feel like now we were seen as modern-day Pharisees if we mentioned anything about some of the absurd things being spoken from the pulpit. But it was absolutely unbelievable to see several key leaders of the Brownsville Revival attend Lakeland, lay hands on Todd Bentley and bless him and affirm that this was the next great revival in America. After his behind-the-scene adultery and drunkenness was finally exposed, we also never heard any of those leaders apologize for what they did. We younger people are looking to these older, seasoned men of God for leadership, teaching and guidance. I know that no one is perfect, but please, please pray for abuses and doctrinal errors to be addressed in the future. Thank you.

  • Matt

    Great article, Adrian. I really appreciated it.

    • Thanks for the encouragement….am guessing you are a fellow charismatic as sadly most responses to this conference seem to fall along “party lines” for want of a better word. Would be interested to hear from charismatics who didn’t feel concerned by the conference or cessationists who thought MacArthur went too far…

      • Matt

        I’m not sure where I stand on the gifts. I agree with Poythress’ excellent articles; that I do know. I worked with Piper for 13 years at Desiring God. The gifts were not a big issue for us (they were more of an issue at the church before I got there, pre-1998). But I think MacArthur is being unfair and uncharitable on this. Which is surprising, because even more important than a correct view on the charistmatic gifts is love (cf. 1 Corithians 13).

        • Amen! If someone is willing to concede a truly active God but just doesnt want to call that gifts (recognising that for many charismatics their experiences are genuine) then I have no problem with that. What we call it isnt vital, though experiencing God is something we should all seek.

  • Cheryl Ford

    And what about Pat Robertson’s Operation Blessing? From website: “Since 1978, Operation Blessing has touched the lives of more than 255 million people in 105 countries and all 50 states, providing goods and services valued at more than $3.3 billion. OBI is one of the largest charities in America, providing strategic disaster relief, medical aid, hunger relief, clean water and community development in more than 20 countries around the world on a daily basis.” It is perhaps the best charity in America. Just look at the website

    So, is John MacArthur being dishonest, or is he simply ignorant? Either way, he should be quiet.

  • Derek Smith

    Thanks for this, Adrian.

    Having read Tim Challies’ account of MacArthurs ‘Appeal to His Continuationist Friends’, I can only ask: with friends like Johnny Mac, who needs enemies?

    As a fellow charismatic, I want to be blunt. Cessationism is an error, and MacArthur is propagating error. I have no love for the extremes and excesses of charismania or prosperity theology, but I certainly want no part of cessationism, either.

    I expect MacArthur will be hearing from his ‘friends’ over the next few days, but I doubt he will listen to them.

  • eroops

    My personal conflict with the issue (gifts or no gifts) is centered on folks I know who have experienced some “gifts” AND are doctrinally sound. I don’t operate in the gifts, have been raised to deny that the gifts are active. I just cant bring myself to label my friends negatively (as the conference seems to do) when they are biblically sound.
    I would like to see Mr. Johnson have a conference with biblically sound folks who have experienced the gifts and who (aside from gifts) are in agreement on all other essential issues of the faith.

  • Alan Molineaux

    Hi Adrian. I appreciate your comments here. Well done. I also understand your frustration at not being understood. I don’t wish to be churlish here but to add a genuine point. It reminds me of the frustration I felt at the time of our discussions about the ‘farewell Rob Bell’ incident. Some contributors seemed all to eager to want to exclude Rob and people like myself. Whilst others seemed too eagle to defend John Piper.

    BTW I am not referring to you in this as I found your willingness to dialogue refreshing.

    I have written more here.

    • Thanks Alan, obviously not keen to revisit that whole debate at the moment, BUT, I do think that the nature of the thing argued about there was very different. Hell is something that is core to the Christian gospel, and can’t be removed without undermining everything. What we call certain experiences many Christians have reported throughout the centuries is not in the same league. My beef with MacArthur is in treating the charismatic issue as though it were a gospel issue.

      A far bigger question nobody seems to be asking is how can we make sure that solid gospel teaching can get out onto the TVs and radios more, especially in places like Africa? Anybody with thoughts on that should feel free to email me or comment here

      • Alan Molineaux

        And yet for John MacArthur our charismatic belief is worse than Rob Bell’s so called liberalism.

        With regard to hell Rob didn’t say that there was no such thing as hell he said that it might be possible that there will be less people there than most Christians have been taught.

        I do want to state that I am not writing about you directly here – I know that you did your best to get a decent conversation going. I have always appreciated this about our conversations.

        My concern is that now charismatics are being excluded they are ready to stand. When Rob was being excluded they generally tried to support John piper.

        Both MacArthur and Piper are using the same tactic of exclusion. We need to say no but not just when it is convenient.

  • I have been following this conversation from afar, reading the comments, and wondering what to think and say. Both sides are obviously at odds with each other and do seem to be talking past each other. I had to answer someone’s questions at church about John Piper being a “charismatic” because they didn’t understand that “charismaticism” isn’t just the wild unbiblical craziness that MacArthur initially seems to be addressing in both Strange Fire and Charismatic Chaos. My story is this. I grew up in the Presbyterian Church in America (P.C.A. for short), and therefore a cessationist, listening to the teachings of people such as R.C. Sproul, and D. James Kennedy. There is also a mix of both Amillenialists and Pre-millenialists within as well. In short, however, the issue of cessationism was rarely brought up as the larger issue in the Christian life was living a life of holiness. That said, I went off to college, and encountered a Pentacostal church, where people were being slain in the spirit, falling out, laughing in the spirit, etc. Talk about shocking a worldview. Further study for me showed that these things were false. They were “Strange fire.” A couple of years later, and I ended up in Bible college, and ran into Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. Another shock to my worldview as here was a reformed charismatic. My Biblical thinking on the sign gifts was changed forever, as I studied the Bible and was shown through Grudem’s teaching where I had been wrong. I will still hold that there is not additional revelation apart from what has been given us in the Bible if you want to say “prophecy”, but whatever prophecy looks like today, I don’t know. It is clearly not what the Pentacostals and Charismatics say it is. Tongues is very clearly being able to speak in a tongue that is not your native tongue that you had not learned previously, yet with a caveat. Someone must be able to interpret was said. Whatever this looks like, I couldn’t tell you. John Piper has even made that very same statement.

    Where MacArthur gets this whole thing wrong is in defining Charismatics and I think this is the whole point that Adrian is trying to get at, in that MacArthur is lumping them all in together. He has myopia in this regard. If one defines themself as a charismatic, then they are all the same. Adrian is saying different in that he believes there should be room for some amount of interpretation with regards to the sign gifts. MacArthur is allowing no room for it. He takes the crazy stuff, assumes that all that are defined as “charismatics” are like that and calls them out as not Christians. That is simply wrong and shameful. I have known charismatics and pentacostals that are very sincere believers and lovers of Christ. To call them anything but Christian is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit to me. They might have wrong doctrine on some parts, but we don’t know the heart, and we don’t know how the Spirit is working in their lives.

    Let’s move past the name calling and false pretenses and move on toward loving Christ and His Church. Let’s define what Charismaticism is and what is should not be. If one believes in any gifts of the Spirit, one is a Charismatic, and that would include MacArthur.

  • What does TD Jakes have to do with the price of tea in China? TD Jakes doesn’t speak for the whole charismatic movement. Is the expectation within groups of Christianity (Reformed, Wesleyan, charismatic, etc) now going to be to issue a disclaimer distancing oneself from every high profile person within a movement with whom one disagrees? Or avoid a movement altogether because of abuses, excesses, or questionable theology from a few? That’s unreasonable at best.

    • Abi

      Please read Acts 20:25-31. I am sure you do not count Christ’s blood bought bride as invaluable as a tea bag in China.
      I am sure that you know (hopefully) that TD Jakes preaches a false gospel, and worships a false deity, making him a wolf/ false teacher (Not a brother in Christ)

      With this settled (hopefully) I am sure that you can see the error of your argument in light of Acts 20:25-31. TD jakes has a lot to do with Christ’s bride, not china tea. Mark Driscoll, a self-made so called shepherd, should know better. By the way he continues to tout TD Jakes as a genuine brother in Christ, I’m a sheep (without any seminary training) and I know better….

      You are ignorant to the fact that the likes of TD Jakes and Benny Hinn are in fact the face of Charismania in the entire continent of Africa. They aren’t just the face, but they are also accepted as genuine Christians. Churches are modeled after their ministry style. I was born and raised there…so I know (lived there for 16 years)!

      Lastly, I was in a somewhat reformed charismatic church a few years ago and had a lot of questions about the Holy Spirit, I couldn’t get an answer from one of the leaders, he told me that I would be taught about the Spirit of God in seminary… one of the members of the church referred me to Benny Hinn’s book on the Holy spirit… case closed. Now I don’t know about you, but if I were the pastor of that church, I would be begging God to forgive me of such a sin. That the congregants of my church would regard Benny Hinn, a wolf, as a valuable source for teaching on the Holy Spirit.

      And this drives home the point that the genuine leaders in this movement remain silent on the issue. This same member that referred me to Benny Hinn was also exposed to men like John Piper and Matt Chandler. This again is the point! Matt Chandler is a brother, so is John Piper, in fact they are elders, I respect them…but you hardly see the same attitude in Paul from the Acts 20:25-31 passage in any Church today.
      The one place I know of that warns people consistently is Grace Community Church and that is the one Church under attack for doing its Job…Aren’t we looking a whole lot more like the Jews that Crucified Christ? We see the truth and we call it ERROR! God help us.
      Would you allow your son, if you had one, to have a baby sitter that is a well known pedophile? If not, why would Mark Driscoll, expose the young reformed generation to TD Jakes as though he wasn’t dangerous? Why would he continue to tout him as a Christian Giant that we all need to learn from? (Till date, I am yet to hear him repent of this) You should SERIOUSLY RECONSIDER YOUR AFFIRMATION OF HIM!

      • Donna Carlaw

        I am sorry to say, Abi, but I fear there is a huge amount of racism going on. I have not heard here much concern shown for the Africans. In fact, I read an article by some egghead 3rd wave theologian who said it was okay if pastors followed the witch doctor style of ministry. It is part of the African culture after all. They live in two worlds over there, don’t you know. Yes, I do know, and the spirit world is inhabited by evil spirits that must be feared and appeased. The man of God is not supposed to be like that at all. The man of God cuts across the grain of every culture.

        That is a purely racist way of looking at missiology, and shows an abject ignorance of what it means to live in fear of evil spirits and have only an evil, demon-possesed person to turn to for help.

        this nonsense comes from my country, and I ask your forgiveness. I ask your forgiveness for the foolishness of even good theologians in not standing up to these wolves who are savaging the flock of God. Some of them are even buying into this syncretism without even knowing it, since they seem to be so high up in their ivory towers they don’t know how to come down.

        No, T.D. has not repented. Yes, he made some kind of half-hearted attempt to join the Trinitarian side. Not impressed until and unless he renounces his devilish practices.

        Please forgive us. We have no idea what we are doing. Thank God that at least one man, MacArthur, knows which end is up. May his tribe increase.

        God bless you, dear brother. My heart breaks for you and your people, as well as my own.

  • Donna Carlaw

    I have liked a lot, even most or all of what I have read here at Adrian’s blog. I am so surprised at his response that I hardly know what more to say. His head is very far in the sand as far as I can tell. I’m sure that his congregation in London is a very happy, comfortable place where the believers are being built up in the Lord. I do not doubt that at all.

    What about the millions who are being used and abused by the false teachers and prophets that abound in most of the world that the Charismatics brag about as being largely Spirit filled? Some people need to get out more. My message is falling on deaf ears. That’s fine. I’m not anyone, and I am a woman, after all. Who would listen to me?

    Still, I had hoped for more global concern on the part of someone like Adrian.

    I am pretty sure that Conrad Mbewe would be rejected, too, since he spoke at the Strange Fire Conference. Maybe he is too extreme, also?

  • MWilliams

    Well said Adrian. appreciate your work.

  • Jon Cranfield

    the problem is you have accused MacArthur of slinging mud whilst slinging a fair bit yourself. The idea that cessationists do not believe in experience as Christians or downplay the work of the Holy Spirit is also a false accusation. The only thing the Bible talks about as bringing about true unity amongst Christians is the gospel. That being so we should all be framing our views in to what will best serve the gospel and reach a perishing world.

    • Look, some cessationists undoubtedly have an experience of a relationship with God. In fact so much so that their experiences are indistinguishable from what charismatics call prophecy. But, I don’t think all do, and this is hard to be sure about because many do not like talking about whatever their experiences are for fear of being labelled a charismatic!

      • Jon Cranfield

        but is that what Biblical prophecy comes under? Having a strong sense of God’s presence, including being filled by the Sprit for a particular event e.g. preaching or personal evangelism as well as God’s presence at other times would definitely be accepted and taught by ‘cessationist’ evangelical churches I’ve experienced. The bigger problem for cessationists is reconciling Paul’s last letter (2 Timothy 3;16-17) with the idea of the gift of prophecy continuing – that further direct authoritative revelation could still occur e.g, warning of an event, telling who to marry etc. as I’ve encountered. If all scripture is sufficient for every good work why would God continue the gift of prophecy?

      • Gibran

        You could pull a few words out of this statement (which you no doubt think is a reasonable statement) and it would be identical to what was said at the conference. (Which you criticize as unreasonable). For example… “Some charismatics undoubtedly have a serious view of the Scriptures, but, I don’t think all do, and
        this is hard to be sure about because many emphasize experience over Scripture.”

  • jackbrooks

    The simplest diagnosis is that John MacArthur and a lot of Charismatics are both wrong.

  • John B


    Check your links, a bad site came up under on on the top.

    • Its possibly a problem on your computer, try clearing your cache, but if it was an advert they do rarely slip thru so let me know more specifics on email and I can ask them to block it.

  • YoGabbaGabba67

    Bottom line, MacArthur is a seriously arrogant man who shows zero signs of humility. I would pay him no more attention than I do to David Crowder.

  • Thanks for the encouragement!

  • These men are NOT the face of any movement I am a part of. Perhaps we should speak in terms of charismatic movementS

  • Tim

    It seems like Mr. MacArthur and others could learn from Paul’s comment in Philippians 3:15 – “All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.” There’s plenty of room for disagreement in the Body of Christ, according to that Apostle.

    • Amen!

    • Gibran

      Obviously Paul had a “view” in mind that was the truth – and said everyone should hold to that view – correct?

  • Word of faith is not co-terminous with the charismatic movement. I am not part of word of faith, but I am charismatic

    • Guest

      I shouldn’t do this, but I’ll try one more time. Your nuanced understanding of the fine differences between Word of Faith, Charismatic, and maybe even Pentecostal means nothing in the rest of the world. You don’t even have a category yet for what passes as the work of the Holy Spirit in most of the world.

      I see that you blew off Mbewe’s messages as just telling all the horrible things that Charismatics do. Hmmm. Interesting.

      • Faith

        Seriously? Word of faith/prosperity “gospel” is it’s own totally unique doctrine. The vast majority of charismatics around the world do not ascribe to this doctrine, and even vehemently protest it. I am actually really surprised that it is even considered a “charismatic” thing at all…. Are all word of faith folks charismatics or Pentecostals? Maybe so, but absolutely not all charismatics or Pentecostals are word of faith. Just like all Canadians are North Americans, but not all North Americans are Canadian. Also, I strongly disagree – most people do know that there is a difference between Pentecostalism and the charismatic movement. About a hundred years ago or less (?), Pentecostalism arose as a new denomination. In more recent decades, the charismatic movement sprang up in many congregations all over, regardless of denomination, as individuals, groups, and entire churches came to believe and experience that the gifts and workings of the Holy Spirit still occur today.

        • Donna Carlaw

          Look at You Tube videos of Benny Hinn in India, and then tell me that Charismatics all over the world care about the finer points of doctrine. The sheep are perishing without good leadership, and the wolves are preying on them. Don’t you care? I am shocked at the Bible-believing Charismatics who care more for the minutia of their dogmas and traditions than they do for the flock of God. This has been a real eye-opening experience for me, to see the unwillingness of good theologians to address this issue.

          • Donna you’ve got my “amen” on that. It breaks my heart and so grieves me…

        • Hi Faith, I read both of your comments above and I can see you have God’s heart on the issues. I would however suggest to you that the word of faith movement is the single biggest influencer in the overall charismatic realm. A lot of younger charismatics may even mock the WOF movement and think they have nothing to do with it. But WOF faith has evolved and different words are used now. But the same basic presuppositions rule the majority “worldview” of most charismatic christians. And this was me for too many years. Here’s the essence:

          Adam lost dominion and due to his lack of faith God’s hands were tied. Jesus won dominion back by dying and rising again and left us the title deed to earth again. Now God’s hands are once again tied . Believers must take dominion by working the word now. WE speak our authority and dominion into manifestation. Our healings and prosperity and full dominion are already fully purchased and God can do nothing more. He waits on us to appropriate all that’s already finished…thru faith.

          This is basic WOF, Latter Rain, Sons of Destiny, etc. It’s all the same ilk. It’s not just Ken Copeland and Fred Price. It’s Bill Johnson, Randy Clark, Benny Hinn, Todd Bentley, etc. Sadly, these heresies are the single most common theology among professing charismatics. They may not call it WOF anymore. Few do. But it’s been dressed up in new clothes. IT IS NOT classical orthodox Christianity. It’s mystical gnostic heresy. It has totally forgotten (and even makes fun of) the issues of repentance, sin, the second coming of Christ, and eternal judgment.

  • Guest

    Amen! Our Pentecostal partners in a closed country are very concerned about these kinds of teachings invading their country. They specifically asked for help to combat the false teachings of those who believe themselves to be super apostles. They are also concerned about excesses they see in the Charismatic Baptists, whom they say have no regard for order, and the Holy
    Spirit is orderly.

    In another country where we worked for many years, a Pentecostal missionary “infiltrated” the indigenous Pentecostal movement – which is huge in that country – because it had become a false cult. It took a long time for him to gain the trust of the leadership, but he and others were able to open the first Bible school in that denomination. Their idea before was that the letter kills and the Spirit gives life. Therefore, if they read and studied the Bible, they would quench the Spirit.

    I could go on, but these examples are just about a few kooks, not the character of the movement as a whole. Also, I just gotta’ say that in most of the world, they don’t care whether a person is Charismatic, Pentecostal, or Word of Faith. They have their own syncretistic stuff going on that goes beyond even these categories.

    Wasting time bickering about this or that nuanced position does not help the sheep at all.

    Now I’m going to go soak my head, because this is just insane, and quite useless.

  • Lamar Carnes

    Having been raised in the atmosphere of the Charistmatic Pentecostal type movement I can attest that most of all I heard at the Conference was right on. By the way, Charles Wesley later became a follower of the “misnomer” Calvinism if you study the history of this guy. I have always questioned Mr. Wesley about his faith due to his seemingly rejection of the cardinal truth about the Substitutionary Blood Atonement of Christ, etc., and I also question the authenticity of anyone – preacher of not, who stands against the clear words of Jesus and the Apostles which I will allude to in this article later. I have heard more “off the wall” stuff and outright blasphemy coming from the lips and movements tagged Charismatics and Pentecostals than a human should ever hear. It is so very very outright perversions of the word of God and had never in history been any where near sound theological reasoning or scriptural doctrines. I was delivered from all of that and later delivered from the confusion and misinformation about the core teachings of the Gospel. Many fundamental Bible Churches, along with Baptist Churches etc., are caught up today in a serious error relating to the what the Gospel message is and what Jesus actually did on the Cross for His people! There is just NO TRUTH at all to any idea that a person on his or her own begins the process of coming to Jesus Christ to be saved. Not one verse of scripture ever saying such, but hundreds which tell us that God the Holy Spirit calls and does a work in the heart prior to anyone making a move spiritually toward God. All are dead spiritually, blind spiritually, and no one is truly seeking the true God and the true Jesus Christ. No one! No one period! Only when God does the first cause work will any ever move toward Him and when He calls them come unto Him confessing and repenting both which are inseperable works of Grace. Those are basic clear truths Jesus stated and Paul the Apostle stated so clearly. And if the “call goes out” and the person doesn’t turn to Christ due to a work of the Holy Spirit in his or her heart, it means they are just where they were prior to that “call” blind, dead and always still rejecting God. It is not a “first time rejection” nor is it as if they suddenly understand and then turn away for that would suggest the person comes to life and then gets lost again. No, that means really, it was not a work of Grace from the Holy Spirit to them but rather a continual hardening as often spoken of by God taking place in their hearts. Maybe seed planted but maybe not – we do not know their absolute final future situations. Arianism and Modalism are rampant today and both were rejected by the Church as heresies many years and centuries ago, so we have nothing new on the heresy front!

    1 Cor. 15 speaks about the Good News, the Gospel which is to be preached to lost people. God does the miracle of Divine Grace and Mercy to the lost sinner through this basic message of the Gospel. But after that great miracle takes place, Jesus our Lord told Peter, “feed the sheep” if you love me! So, we address the entire meaning of those words relating to the Gospel work by God through Christ Jesus to the new disciples.

    Unpacking all of that shows the new convert what that Gospel really entails and means in its fullest implications. And that is called the Doctrines of Grace which many have labeled with human names or terms, but those particular points have five distinct aspects and they are the Gospel.

    They are not side issues at all, or something we can just have differences on and it is o.k., but rather, they must be trusted in and believed or you don’t have the Gospel and the correct work of the Son of God at all, regarding His distinct suffering on the cross for our sins.
    We must not entertain an attitude these things are secondary issues as if the word of God can be laid aside on such a integral part of the Cross work of Christ. I insist upon that because Christ did, and the Apostles did. The Doctrines of Grace as Charles Spurgeon so stated, is the Gospel! There are Pharisee’s today within the culture of the visible so-called Christian Church. Always has been and always will be until Jesus comes. I do not suggest each “new born” babe knows all of the theology and doctrine immediately, but they sure need to be taught the correct Doctrines as soon as possible and if they are in an environment where false teachings are going on, they get confused and harmed spiritually. My own personal feelings about this is that God will eventually move them out of such environment if they are really saved. He did this for me! I thank Him every day for that. Although I never fought against or taught against the truths I now know, I was just ignorant of them and also misunderstood what was being taught in the scriptures for many years. I truly believe with all my soul because the Bible speaks of such, that we have “men and women who are seduced by Satan and have been turned into “angels of light” to deceive the very elect if they could”! Everyone can’t be put in the same boat and say we are all right and o.k.! We are not! Someone is wrong and very wrong. My eyes were opened and I turned away from Pelagianism and its rotten egg Arminainism and I am thankful God opened my eyes to the truths of the Reformed Doctrines which were preached and taught down though the centuries before the Reformation and proof is there in writing they were taught, but folks just got caught up in heresies, etc.! One is wrong and the right! You have to put you soul on the line and go with one or the other and God in eternity will judge us on this. Either we are saved or we are lost! We are either going with His word or rejecting it thinking we are doing God a service. I can assure you the Pharisee’s thought for sure they were “right on ” with God! But they were not! God WILL NOT share His glory about Salvation and how it comes about in the heart of human being with that person or any one else. He is the 100% author and finisher of our faith! He is the beginning and the end of it all. Without Him we could do nothing! Not one thing! We can’t even breathe without Him. And if HE wanted to save everyone on earth HE could certainly do so for He has the capability the knowledge and the desire if He so chose to do so but He doesn’t do so! To deny that is a idea which strikes at the Attributes of God and someone or something else more powerful than God is! That just won’t happen and isn’t ever going to happen no matter what a person thinks or says about it all. God is sovereign or He isn’t! God can make things happen or He isn’t God. Man, Satan or Demons are NOT able in any shape fashion or form to thwart God in any of His purposes or plans! To say otherwise is to make God not God and to make something or someone stronger, more powerful and more knowledgeable than He really is! That will never happen! False lies an false ideas of the character and attributes of God can’t change God! Religious denominations, preachers, theologians, teachers, or whomever can’t make God become a “genie” in a bottle type idea of God. He won’t have it! WE all need to submit and bow to the Supreme God of the Universe who is in charge of all things and especially of the Salvation of His people who HE died for and had their names written in His book before the foundation of the world! To whom do you bow down to? What is He like? Is He really God or just a sort of grandfatherly type guy you think of up stairs? Or is He the God who is really in charge of all things and makes all things turn around for His glory and His purpose to achieve His plans as He ordained prior to anything being created? I side with Him rather than trying to make Him into my own image or my own thoughts of how it should be.

  • Michael Jones

    The only reasonable way any Christian can be a non-cessationist, is to be open to the possibility that God could do such things signs, wonders and miracles today if He so desired to. But that is where they would have to leave it. All these arguments would be lost if any charismatic could produce a single person who not only healed any and all ailments, but did so to preach an accurate gospel of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Worldwide attention to such a person would be an incredible opportunity for the spread of the gospel. The movement is devoid of any such people at the moment.

    There is no example of any modern charismatic that parallels what
    took place in the ministries of Jesus, His apostles, or the first century Church.
    The arguments are mainly emotive, with a poor handling of Scripture and a weak
    gospel. It fails to understand that God leaves us in the world to evangelize
    and disciple (Matt. 28:19-20), not spend all of our time seeking one
    sensational experience after another. We interact with God everyday of our
    lives through prayer, through Scripture, and through faith in our Lord Jesus
    Christ, confident “that he who began a good work in [us] will bring it to
    completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).

    Tongues were for a sign, not self-edification, and if it was spoken, it was to be interpreted (1 Cor. 14). Tongues is often elevated as an authenticating sign of a charismatic, but it was never meant to be a private gibberish. It was always a known language, even if the one speaking did not know it (cf. Acts 2 at Pentecost where the tongues were known languages, v.11).

    The weight of proof belongs to charismatics who fail to hold
    other charismatics to a biblical standard. This is the problem. Personal
    experience in place of sound biblical hermeneutics only proves a faulty
    understanding of personal experience based on feelings and error rather than
    truth. As I mentioned above, non-cessationists are inconsistent in their openness
    to charismatic gifts by not holding those who practice such things against the
    biblical use and purpose of these gifts.

    The writer of Hebrews reveals that the gospel “was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will” (Heb. 2:3-4 NASB; cf. Rom. 15:18-19, 2 Cor. 12:12). God confirmed the men He used to write the Scriptures of the New Testament with accompanying signs, consistent with the ministry of Jesus. Peter declares to the people that God proved Jesus was who He claimed to be “with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know” (Acts 2:22; Matt.4:23-24; John 20:30-31).

    The twelve apostles, (Matthias having replaced the betrayer,Judas [Acts 1:21-22, 26]), emphasized the importance of “preaching the word of God” (6:2 ESV). They had other believers free up from other duties that kept them from this important work (v.3, 5-6). They would “devote [themselves] to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (v.4). Notice how they were not relying on signs, wonders and miracles: they relied on studying, praying and preaching the word of God. This pattern and example was given to Timothy by Paul when he told him, “Do your best to present yourself approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15 ESV). The Word of God is to be rightly handled because it is “breathed out by God” (3:16-17 ESV) and provides everything anyone needs to know for salvation and sanctification. The importance of faithfulness to this truth is explained because of its fluctuation of popularity. “Preach the word: be ready in season and out of season” (4:2 ESV). Since we are born with a love of darkness and willful truth suppression (Rom. 1:18) many will abandon “sound teaching,” find people who will lie to them, mishandling the Bible, “and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim. 4:3-4 ESV). This is the inevitable default of irrational thinking. Abandoning God’s truth causes us to twist and abandon reason; we use our reason to contradict reason because we love our lies. They allow us to do what we want and that want is not consistent with the Word of God. We do not want to be what Paul urges Timothy to be: faithful to the truth (2 Tim. 2:15) and “sober-minded” (4:5 ESV).

    Peter and John healed a “man lame from birth” (Acts 3:2-8).This gave Peter the opportunity to preach salvation in the One whom the people agreed to crucify, to those who witnessed the miracle. The miracle validated the truth of Peter’s message of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (vv. 12-26). This preaching caused Peter and John to get arrested (4:1-3). Again, this healing miracle gave them an opportunity to preach the gospel to the “rulers and elders and scribes…with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family” (vv.5-6 ESV, vv.8-22). This was an incontrovertible miracle, a total healing as verse 22 testifies, “For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.” Luke reports a similar case with Paul and Barnabas at Lystra when Paul healed a man “crippled from birth and had never walked” (14:8-10). The crowds attributed the work to their pagan pantheon of demons (vv.11-13), but Paul testified against “these vain things” pleading with them to “turn to a living God” who created everything and everyone (vv. 15-17). The signs, miracles, and wonders were always used to validate God’s messengers of divine truth (cf. Josh. 3:7) which always displayed an accurate gospel of salvation (cf. 4:29-31). It always verified sound preaching.

  • Steve Long

    Well done Adrian! It would appear that many are lining up on their version of the side of truth as opposed to the side of love. I’m going to stick to the love side as that is what Jesus said we should be known for. Not saying truth isn’t important, rather love is the big deal.

    Steve Long, Senior Leader Catch the Fire Toronto (one of the groups that Mr MacArthur has, in my opinion, mis-represented)

    • Erik Pedersen

      It would be pretty hard to misrepresent anyone involved in catch the fire fiasco…

  • Adrian, I appreciate the deposit you continue to make…and feel a theological kinship. I think I remember JMac saying that miracles no longer happen. Period. He was not simply saying the miraculous gifts have ceased…but that miracles in general no longer happen in the church. I heard this via audio sometime in the past year. Somebody please correct me…as I hope I got that wrong! JMac would probably not deny that shamans and sorcerers have evil supernatural power even today. Why give the devil that freedom and bind God? Is that really necessary to a high view of Scripture? I think not.

    Differences aside, I can’t help but think if we who consider ourselves continuists or charismatics were more faithful in confronting the error in our ranks, maybe JMac wouldn’t be having a conference like this.

    Yes, as you tweeted, there are so many wierdos in the crazimatic camp, we’d have time for nothing else if we try to correct them all. But why don’t more of us at least step out and directly confront the error of those who are massively followed and esteemed in charismatic circles? (I think I know why: we are men-pleasers who don’t want to take the heat.)

    So few high profile leaders were willing to step out and say, “This revival with Todd Bentley is not true revival. This is not a true work of God.” R.T. Kendall was a high profile exception. He couldn’t be silent and so he published against it (I think in Ministries Today or Charisma). He took some real heat…and then of course everyone had to shut their mouths.

    And what of the high profile charismatic leaders who shared the stage with Todd Bentley? And prophesied that his anointing and revival would be exported to all the nations? And gave him the “apostolic” blessing? What of those leaders who led hundreds of thousands into that deception? They are still influencing millions…with so little discernment. This really grieves me…and at least in a measure makes me respect JMac for a willingness to expose the junk.

  • Love this. Thank you. I appreciate your measured, but firm response.

  • Christian

    Good article, thanks. I do not agree on you not wanting to waste your time critisizing extreme charismatics. It is because of our silence that it got out of hand. Judgment should start in your own house first.
    There is a saying that for every 100 Christians, 1 reads the Bible and 99 reads the Christian. This is true and if we don’t speak up, the 99 will be lost. You only have to look at some of the televangelists to see how it is getting out of hand. Instead of us speaking up, John MacArthur has taken the lead and is now making blanket statements.
    I’ve had to do with some of the John MacArthur disciples and they love to quote him, instead of quoting the Bible, again the 99 versus the 1.

    I am pentecostal/ evangelical and I’ve seen things like slain in the spirit where it is obvious the people are falling over because they feel pressured. I’ve been there myself. I’ve had pastors pray for me where they actually tried to push me over, others even yelled at me to fall over…

    Anyway, we can’t be quiet about this. Maybe this is a good thing what John MacArthur did as the issue has now been forced into the open.

  • Daddy50

    Just curious if anyone knows if there are any charismatic paedobaptists (evangelical) out there, or if the charismatic influence has only taken root among credobaptists?

    • There are a lot of Charismatic Anglicans over here who are pedobaptist. Holy Trinity Brompton, the home of the Alpha Course being just one well-known example.

      • Josh Elsom

        I believe they are called Paedocostols, no? 🙂

      • Daddy50

        Adrian, Thank you very much for the lead on Holy Trinity Brompton. If I were in England, that would look very attractive to me! Here in the U.S., it appears the charismatic influence among paedobaptist churches is minimal. I used to be active in the PCA, which is notably cessationist. Does anyone know of any charismatic evangelical paedobaptist churches in the U.S.?

        By the way, I listened to your interview with Michael Brown and Sam Storms and thoroughly enjoyed it. Keep up the good fight!

  • Guest

    YWAM’s Mercy Ministries, of Rick Warren’s PEACE campaign…

    That is as bad as your reference to Hill$ong and Jesus Culture the other day. Why don’t you start to research the people and Organizations you promote. You must be a sandwich short of a picnic when it comes to biblical discernment. Do you not know of the damage and scandal that took place in Australia regarding Mercy Ministries at the hands of Hill$ong? Do you understand or even know what Rick Warren teaches? Oh but that’s OK they do nice things. Both you and Michael Brown blow you horn and wonder why John MacArthur and many others have a platform to speak against the Charismatic movement.

    I am going to be straight with you, wake up Adrian and start to look seriously at what people have to say about what is happening, you are going to be surprised.

  • Erik Pedersen

    YWAM’s Mercy Ministries, or Rick Warren’s PEACE campaign…

    That is as bad as your reference to Hill$ong and Jesus Culture the
    other day. Why don’t you start to research the people and Organizations
    you promote. You must be a sandwich short of a picnic when it comes to
    biblical discernment. Do you not know of the damage and scandal that
    took place in Australia regarding Mercy Ministries at the hands of
    Hill$ong? Do you understand or even know what Rick Warren teaches? Oh
    but that’s OK they do nice things. Both you and Michael Brown blow you
    horn and wonder why John MacArthur and many others have a platform to
    speak against the Charismatic movement.

    I am going to be straight with you, wake up Adrian and start to look
    seriously at what people have to say about what is happening, you are
    going to be surprised.

  • Steve

    I think genuineness is a must. But, genuineness also a problem in cessationist churches as well. Right now the Charismatic warts are in the spotlight. I’ve spent many years in non-Charismatic churches. There are abuses there that rival the Charismatic church. They are just in the shadows. I know of whole ministries devoted to healing abuse from non-Charismatic churches. We need to remember that its people who hurt people and both sides are made up of people.

  • I am simply tired of hearing this phrase from pastors and teachers. It is simply no longer the truth. It may have been true 100 years ago, but it is not true today: “If people are taught to recognize real money by studying it, when fake currency turns up they will identify it in an instant.”

    People who actually study money these days do so using a microscope, because the fake money is so good, you can’t tell it apart from the real thing unless you use forensic investigation.

    For example, “counterfeit currency known as “Superdollars,” almost identical to true U.S. $100 and $50 banknotes that can only be detected by very sophisticated detection instruments.”

    Here’s a link that explores how modern forensics are used to detect counterfeit currency:

  • Andre de Kock

    Dane Gressett, I agree with you 100%, but I HAVE to stand against MacArthur’s statement at this conference that ALL Charismatics are UNSAVED and BLASPHEME the Holy Spirit. His gross excess is to me no better than all the false teaching of Bently!!!

    I too speak in tongues daily and often have prophetic words as well as words of knowledge, and so it’s you and me that MacArthur is saying is unsaved and blaspheme the Holy Spirit and so I hope you will also challenge him on this account.

  • Don Palmer

    Well said & written Adrian. This is truly shameful and so sad, but having tracked Big Mac since his book back in the 70’s on the Movement, I’m really not surprised. He has done the exact same with anyone who disagrees with him on women in ministry, old earth creation, emerging churches, etc etc. I find him one of the most distasteful, un-Christlike individuals on the planet to be honest. And heaven weeps.

  • Lorilee Gill

    I believe MacAurthur is afraid of the Holy Spirit because he doesn’t have an intimate relationship with God. And when you are afraid of something, you speak against it.

  • Alex

    Adrian, I think you are just completely mis-understanding it.

    I’m only starting with the VERY FIRST audio from the conference, and JOHN CLEARLY states that there are some who do know the truth, who seek the truth, who are saved. BUT they are not saved because of the Charismatic movement, but because of the Gospel. ALSO the movement, the MOVEMENT is not helping at all to the truth. Please open up your heart and eyes and see it clearly. John is NOT condemning Everyone in the Charismatic movement.

  • hello

    It is indeed discouraging to see Dr. MacArthur making such sweeping statements. I think he is equating the corrupt televangelist to the charismatic movement. It would be good to see him define his terms.

    • Manny Reyes

      I understand. It hurts. I too am now in a Charismatic group. But now I am praying for discernment of my fellow Charismatic friends. I am happy and contended with the power of the Gospel. For me, today’s signs, wonders and miracles are done by God by our prayers not by our powers.

  • Chrissy

    I would just like to thank Jesus for my salvation.

  • maria

    Lets not be Charismatic for if you are it is not from God for a charismatic by definition “is exercising a compelling charm” and that is not from our Lord. Come off the self and accept grace. No amount of self indulgence will purpose Gods will for you.

  • Guest

    Adrian, did you even listen to RC Sproul’s sermon at the conference??? If so than why in the world would you post a Martin Lloyd Jones quote that was geared toward rejecting the view that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is the same thing as regeneration??? RC Sproul did not defend that view!! In fact HE CLEARLY ARGUED AGAINST IT! Be honest, did you really even listen to RC’s sermon??? And if so why in the world would you post that Martin Lloyd Jones quote in response? You really need to be careful to actually hear what Macarthur and company are saying. It seems like you are not taking the time to listen to what the other side has to say which puts a massive dent in your credibility.

    I don’t agree with everything that I heard at the conference but to ramble against it like you have seems totally unnecessary. If you argue that GTY is being divisive by their actions than what would you call this blog? Seems like you are trying to have it both ways. There is nothing wrong about a group of men speaking against specific doctrines that are popular among christians. The issue is not “are they being divisive?” Just like that’s not the issue with your blog. The issue is “what does the Bible really say about this subject?” If you are going to call GTY divisive than to remain consistent you must take down this bog post… Otherwise let’s stick to the main issue which is what the Bible truly says about this topic.

  • Leo Monterosso

    John MacArthur has taught this for 40+ years.

  • Abi, MacArthur in no uncertain terms says that God absolutely does not work healing miracles AT ALL anymore…on any occasion. He has gone on record many times along these lines. He does admit that evil supernaturalism is real and that there are demonic supernatural manifestations.

    Seems sad that JMac makes room for devils to do the supernatural but not the church. He’s cut the baby in half. He is has left the biblical standard regarding miracles in the NT age and uses his own lack of experience as his standard. Even as he accuses charismatics of uses their own feelings and experiences as their standard. At least on this subject, I cannot agree with JMac.

  • J. Dean

    “To be honest, watching Phil Johnson’s first talk did make me ask myself: do I speak out about charismatic abuses often enough? Its not that I don’t recognise the problem. For example, I could easily speak volumes about the horror I felt when I watched the broadcast of God TV rehabilitating Todd Bentley and justifying restarting screening his bizarre meetings. Once I start down that route, though, where do I stop? As I said, in a tweet do I really have the time?”

    With all due respect, that sounds like spiritual laziness. As somebody who is an ex-charismatic, it was sad to see people hesitant to decry charlatans like Hinn, Hagin, Copeland, and the like, all in the name of “unity”.

    If the pentecostals really DID throw more of the bathwater out, they probably wouldn’t have to defend themselves from things like the Strange Fire conference. But they don’t, because the gifts of the Spirit seems to take the place of the gospel as the central doctrine upon which the church stands or falls. Setting aside the questionable nature of many of these “experiences” and how they often do not line up with Scripture’s depiction of miracles and gifts, the pentecostals, because they do not clean out their own house, would rather embrace the dirt that has accumulated rather than hear somebody else say that the room needs to be clean.

    Unfortunately, this rot has spread into the Nazarene church as well now:

  • Jason Vanderpool

    I have been reading over comments regarding the recent “Strangefire” conference and am deeply grieved. Not because people are ranting and raving about how wrong it was, but because they are not willing to hold themselves to what the purpose of that conference was about.

    1 Peter 3:15-17 ” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.”

    These men at this conference were attempting to give a biblical, historical message about why they believe what they believe. And instead of the charismatic group doing the same, all they offer is insult and complaints.

    So here is my dare and request. I am making public my desire to see a group of charismatic leaders get together and hold a biblical, historical conference and give an answer to why they believe what they believe. I want to hear from them exegetical, historical proof of their position. I want them to stop complaining and start defending. I want them to stop complaining that this conference is unloving, divisive, and wrong and hold their own meeting explaining their convictions. No one is stopping them so what are they afraid of? If they feel they are correct in their interpretation, then bring it on, lets hear it. If they cannot or will not hold such a meeting, then let them forever be silenced.

    • Manny Reyes

      Sounds scary but I agree.

    • Robby McAlpine

      Pentecostals have been speaking up for years. Check out the Assemblies of God website for the many PDF’s of their position statements against Health & Wealth, the Shepherding Movement, Jesus-Only, Modern Apostles, etc.

      I’m not a Pentecostal myself, but to say that nobody has been speaking up is simply untrue.

      J. Lee Grady has written several books (What Happened to the Fire? and The Holy Spirit Is Not For Sale, to name two) that also criticized the same things.

      Back in the hey-day of the Shepherding Movement, Chuck Smith (Calvary Chapel), Jack Hayford (Church on the Way), Pat Robertson (700 Club at the time), Demos Shakarian (Full Gospel Businessmen Association), and even Kathryn Kulhman publicly exposed the Shepherding teaching as error.

      Todd Bentley’s many critics included a lot of continuationists. The Toronto Blessing as well.

      It is a myth (dare I call it a lie?) to say that continuationists are silent on these issues.

  • Jack O’Connell

    Adrian, the Christian faith is under serious attack, there are numerous false teachers established within the Charismatic movement. There are pagan practices flooding in through men like Bill Johnson and Rick Joyner. These modern gnostics dont teach the word and correct the sin and error corrupting and strangling the church and drenching it with fables but instead promote mystical experiences without any Biblical basis. Men like Rodney Howard Brown claim to be able to manipulate the Holy Spirit and direct His movements and give people direct experiences with God and claim to be channelers of the Spirit. More and more heretics are springing up and have at their mercy an ever growing number of gullible, undiscerning, vulnerable and confused people.

    We need men to lift up their voice like a trumpet and expose demonic deception within the church. Eph 4:11 commands us to expose the works of darkness. We know Satan transforms himself into an angel of light and many will thus be deceived and think it unloving to speak against the deceptions in the Charismatic movement due to their ignorance of the severity and danger involved.When most shepherds sit idly by not having the love to oppose evil,deceit or name false teachers and warn God’s flock, you shouldnt try pick fault and knit pick those men who have the courage to do what you refuse.
    Why not thank the Lord that sin is being exposed and give honour to whom honour is due instead of complain and whine when men of God wield the sword of the Spirit against deceit and expose the works of darkness.Are you truly on the side of truth if exposing sin within the church gets under your skin. Love rejoices in the trith not groans at it!

  • Joe Reed

    The reason for the conference, and the reason for John’s concern as I understood it, and I was there, is that the charismatic movement, not just in part but in whole, has opened a door impossible to close by affirming direct, Divine words revealed personally and outside the Bible. I’m not talking about providence, Phil Johnson covered that, but the actual words from God. This is the issue we cessationists have with speaking in tongues. After all, if the words are not from our own selves, where are they from? And if they are from God, then they are divine and inerrant, regardless of what language they show up in. Grudem has a system to take divine revelation via tongues and prophecy and dilute their inerrancy as they apparently “pass through” the fallen messenger, but MacArthur’s book I think more than adequately demonstrates the ultimate absurdity that system requires.
    Is it perhaps because of this uncertainty as to the amount of “Divine inspiration” left in a charismatic prophet’s message that makes you so hesitant to call out a Todd Bentley and others like him in the midst of their ministry, and only in hindsight, after the damage has been done, are you able to see the error clearly?
    Abandoning the uniqueness of the actual words of God has kicked open a door for all sorts of things to be added, things that can’t be discerned in your thinking because you don’t have a “complete” manual to judge by. JM and the cessationists hold the complete manual, we are not afraid to make judgments the Bible makes, and we grieve to see it treated so lightly, because an open ended Bible leaves room for an evolving gospel, which is precisely what the charismatic movement is – an “evolving” movement. I think any honest look at it, especially in the last 30 years would prove that.

  • Manny Reyes

    Most Charismatics are not picking up very well from where John MacArthur is standing. You would sound correct at your point. But he sounds more correct as far as SAFETY is concerned. You might be in the middle but, you are open for more errors because of your adherence to the continuation of gifts. A “Safety Engineer” would not recommend your system. I think that is the most important issue of the Strange Fire Conference. You don’t have to swim too far from the shore. Salvation is on the inside the boarder line of the Scripture. The more you defend Continuationism, the more you endorse those who adhere the most of errors.

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Very interesting.

  • george_porg

    John MacArthur is a great expository Bible teacher who, from my point of view practices a very subtle form of idolatry whereby he limits and boxes in God by his own theology, confuses God with the Bible and places his theology and Biblical interpretation at the same level as scripture.

    While the scriptures are provided to us by God, they do not limit or define God. Theological study is a tool that can sometimes be wrong and it seems to me John misses that point.

    yet Almighty still uses this stiff necked man.

  • Brian Leffert

    I believe that if we do not accurately understand all of particular functions that the offices of apostle and New Testament prophet fulfill in their part of building up the body of Christ, we will then be vulnerable to misjudging whether or not there is a continuing need for someone to fulfill these functions today.

    In other words if I misunderstand all that an officer is responsible for I will also be prone to misunderstand when these responsibilities have been fulfilled.

  • Good stuff Adrian. When talking to people who hold similar beliefs to the “Strange Fire Crew” I have spoken about how the Bble is an invitation to meet a person. It’s a menu of which we can eat off and taste and see that the Lord is good. The Bible is a love letter not the lover Himself!

    Out of relationship Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing, He only said what He heard Him speak. Jesus, the exact representation of the Father, did miracles out of love an compasison, commanded His disciples to do the same, and promised us even greater!

  • Matt

    Why so dedicated to defending this movement? You said yourself:

    “If we researched & criticised all the crooks, cons, and cookies in the Charismatic Movement we’d have no time for anything else”

    How does this glorify G-D? Wouldn’t you say a movement like this claiming the name of the Creator actually profanes HIS name?

    • Because we are NOT all like the extremes any more than all baptists are like Westbro! I am a charismatic and I remain glad to be so, because I am convinced that it is the biblical position.

  • Brian Leffert

    What is the apostolic distinctive?

    Paul reminds the church in Corinth that he laid their foundation, it was not a corporate work done by all of the apostles.

    (1Cor 3:10)
    “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid
    a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it.”

    At the end of his letter to the believers in Rome, Paul explains to them why he has not visited them earlier even know he has greatly desired to do so:

    (Rom 15:20)
    “and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation.”

    He did not lay the foundation for their church, it was laid by “someone else”, and his personal application of Isaiah’s prophesy had constrained his ministry to places where Christ is not yet named.

    So we have two different churches, Corinth and Rome, with the same
    foundation “Jesus Christ”,

    (1Cor 3:11)

    “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is
    Jesus Christ.”

    already laid in someway by different individuals. Paul
    could not have understood the completed canon of scripture to be the
    correct interpretation of his “foundation” metaphor.

    Paul was called to be an Apostle, here he gives insight into what he
    believed that meant. Paul tells the believers in Rome that he has
    “fulfilled” his apostolic mission work in the middle east and
    southeastern Europe, he says this is because he has “no more place
    in these parts”.

    No more place to lay foundations where Christ is not named.

    He believes that he must move to another mission field to be obedient to
    his Apostolic calling. A calling to preach the gospel, which is the
    foundational truths that must be believed for people to be saved, and
    a true assembly or church to be established. It was his only message
    when he first visited Corinth;

    (1Cor 2:2)

    “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him

    This is Paul’s understanding of the apostolic distinctive. He
    believed that only apostles and prophets could lay the foundations for
    assemblies.This foundation is “of” them (Eph2:20), because they are commissioned to lay it.

    Many of the other so called apostolic distinctives were experienced by those who
    were never recognized as apostles.

    There were also non apostles present from the baptism of Christ unto his
    ascension, so this cannot be the apostolic distinctive, and the writing of scripture and working of miracles was also preformed by those who were never numbered amongst the apostles.

    The Evangelist preaches the gospel where Christ is already named bringing
    others into already established assemblies.

    The apostle preaches the gospel where there are no preexisting assemblies. He is the one who lays the foundation for this new assembly. This is why there are no office or gift of “church planter” found in the scripture, this necessary
    function was the calling of the apostolic office.
    (Mat 28:19-20)

    Is their still a need for these functions to be fulfilled today? Yes!

    The need is still here today because this commission has yet to be fulfilled.

    I believe that the planting of a church in a tribe, tongue, or nation, where there has previously had been no mention of the name of Christ’ was what Paul understood to be the “seal” of apostleship.

    (1Cor 9:2)
    If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the
    seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

  • Aaron

    So many titles that people place on others and we place on ourselves. We would all benefit if we stopped reading all the books and articles that these pastor’s write and we all just read the Word of God, which God you ask, that would be YHWY. I know most Christians don’t use that name because they don’t even know the true name of their “God” they pray to. But thats another topic. Read His Word and study His Word. Get together with other believer’s and read and Study His Word. Most people don’t even bring their Bible to church and even more don’t even read it. Why are their so many different beliefs… becasue we don’t read His Word anymore. We don’t study. You go to church once a week and pray at dinner with the family, that is your Christian life…. really that it…. maybe you should rethink what being a follower of Christ really is supposed to be by…wait for it….READ HIS WORD FOR YOURSELF.

  • Gibran

    The Lloyd-Jones comment is interesting. One might turn it around and say to a charismatic (as they did at the conference), why have so many of the highest profile charismatics been caught in the most scandalous of sins? If it supposedly gives you something “extra” above and beyond the “run-of-the-mill” regular Christian (what a divisive doctrine that is – the opposite of Acts 2 in fact) – how can the highest profile charismatics be continually caught in the grossest of sins?

  • AndyZ53

    Simply, “Strange Fire” is tragic:

    It denies the “Fire” genuinely needed in the church and nation.

    It is called “divisive” not because it takes a stand on essential Christian doctrine but is based on certain seminary, cessationist Bible opinions which leads to a spirit of separation from those who hold a different opinion. This is seen by John MacArthur’s unwillingness to sit down with some very intelligent and integral leaders to discuss “Strange Fire”. No New Testament leader carried this attitude.

    It ignores Jesus’ teaching and prayers (John 13:35 and all of John 17) and Paul’s teaching (First Corinthians 1 and 3, Ephesians 3, Philippians 2 etc.), prayers, and pleas for humility and unity to reach an unbelieving world

    It approaches the Bible not to learn what the Bible says but tells the Bible what we believe (particularly in ignoring the clear exegesis of 1 Corinthians 12-14).

    I believe John MacArthur and his followers will live to regret the damage “Strange Fire” has done to the cause of Jesus Christ.

  • chris

    I watched McArthurs ridicule on other Churches and it was quite disturbing. You would never call another mans bride ugly?!

    John MacArthur needs to know that theology and doctrine are good but only if it porduces fruit. Who needs the devil to condemn when MacArthur exists.

  • Bill Wilder

    This strange fire is the best true thing that has hit the church world for a long time. How can these false money loving tv preachers get away with it for so long.Truth is they don’t. If a non believer walk in to one of these churches where you have leaders dancing on money, people shaking and fall in over in a kundalini spirit trans. they would run a mile and never to set foot in a church again. Sad but true. unfortunately we live in the times where more weeds are growing amongst the wheat
    Matthew 13:24-30You can not rip up the weeds by the root otherwise the wheats roots get damaged or die. This is a complex world we live in.
    Macarthur is right i what he says about this false money loving kundalini circus that has hit the church. And it is great to have the warning which is so long over due. However Maybe saying that charamatics are not saved. Let God be the judge of that after all we are all human at the end of the day.

  • Dmitriy
  • Brian Christensen

    Interesting. So when the strange fire conference happened there was a memorial for Chuck Smith. My family, wife’s family and many uncles, aunts developed a closer walk thru the ministry of Calvary Chapel and other charismatic churches. I see as much problem with JMax and his ‘throw the baby AND the bathwater’ and charismatics that don’t address false teaching (many do preach against the false teachers). My wife has read many JMac’s books but wasnt to happy to hear he branded many of her brothers and sisters in the Lord as not. I just wonder what Walter Martin might have said.

  • The debate is much more complex than that, and I think you know it.

  • Sol

    I completely understand the problems with the way some ministers, who are charismatic, do their thing. Those concerns and issues are very pertinent. However! We need to be more specific- you can’t say a whole movement is wrong and everyone isn’t saved because of a few crazy people who get way too emotional, abuse their power, and don’t actually change who they are.
    That’s like saying all catholics are going to hell because they do church differently than you. The problem is with those SPECIFIC PEOPLE who’ve chosen to abuse others and the works of God for their own gain– not the movement itself. Just like the Jesus People movement back a few decades, many people were brought to a genuine faith in Jesus Christ, likewise there were also the people who took the emotional too far.
    On the subject of the gifts, there IS NO SCRIPTURE that says the gifts ended after the apostles died, in any way, shape, or form. Just because someone hasn’t seen the supernatural or experienced it for themselves doesn’t mean it simply doesn’t exist. If we were to agree that because we haven’t experienced the supernatural gifts of the spirit that they don’t exist, why not just give people who’ve never experienced God more reason to use that logic and say God doesn’t exist. Individual experience alone should Not determine doctrine.
    Honestly, who are we to tell God and other people that He can’t work a certain way if He wants to? He won’t simply because…. what?… He stopped arbitrarily? And for some reason He absolutely WILL NOT work that way again? Prophecy, miracles, and other Holy Spirit outpourings just stopped cuz God felt like it?
    TLDR: Maybe we should put the blame for screwed up ministry where it lies- on the self-promoting manipulative individual leaders, and not every person that happened to be saved in a Charismatic Church. Let God work whatever way He wants to and test it against the Word, not our experiences and preconceived notions of what God will and will not do. Otherwise the ONLY things you’re doing is limiting God, and discouraging others saying God IS NOT the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

  • Jerry Rockwell

    The Strange Fire Conference was very strange fire to me. Some of the people mentioned such as T. B. Joshua do more good for the body of Christ than any of the critics. Criticism is good, but a huge part of the criticisms in this strange fire conference are based on lies and false conceptions. They claim to know a man’s heart and to say things that are blatantly false. Your critic said T.B. Joshua is “another one of those guys who likes to wear white. I have literally watched hundreds of T.B. Joshua films on YouTube and rarely ever see him in white. Your Critic also said he likes to be called “Emmanuel.” That is a blatant lie. As part of his meetings you will hear the people use the word ‘Emmanuel” to make a statement that “God is with us.” What is wrong with that? I think it is a great statement of faith. I have been in the ministry for over 40 years and can only find falsehoods in your assessments of the man, T.B. Joshua. I would suggest you repent as openly as you have condemned these good men. You are the ones in danger of great judgment. You think because God does not use you in the same way, that these folks are dead wrong. You cannot back it up, so you use lies and innuendo. That is the saddest part about what you do. Of course there are some who have gone astray. But, that does not cast dispersions on every ministry that is not like your own. Repent, Repent, Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.

  • Jeff

    Johnny Mac is speaking out of a root of bitterness. Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; (NAS). He is bitter over what happen with his wife, who was hurt in a pentacostal church. It is suspect, that Johnny Mac will not debt any of us “so called heretics”.