“I’m not saying that everyone in the charismatic movement is not Christian” John MacArthur

“I’m not saying that everyone in the charismatic movement is not Christian” John MacArthur November 21, 2013

I am very keen to be fair to Dr John MacArthur. And so I want to acknowledge that in a recent Q and A online at GTY he states clearly that he does not believe all charismatics are unsaved. He claims he “never said that” though I have previously collected a bunch of quotes that do say precisely that. He doesn’t regret or apologize for those quotes in this audio. I think that he tends to think of the Charismatic movement in the main as being unsaved, although he sees some exceptions to that rule. In other words, if he meets a charismatic. he would be surprised to discover if that they were a genuine Christian.MacArthur appears to limit the people who he think are saved to the reformed charismatics and some of the traditional pentecostals.

However, I do feel that listening to the whole of this audio he is still keen to dismiss the whole movement as unhelpful, seeing the majority of the charismatic movement as being devoid of the gospel. He clearly states that he feels the reformed group are not really part of the charismatic movement. He also sees the Charismatic movement as being an entirely separate stream, not connected to the reformation. I do not believe that is true. MacAthur also speaks about the differences between him and John Piper, including their previous joint interview about depression.

Whatever your position on the debate that is still raging, I encourage you to listen to this Q and A. MacArthur is not as someone said to me recently “an extremist who should just be ignored”  We should listen to him. We can disagree with him, and I do profusely.  But, he is someone who is worthy of our attention, and especially when he moves off the subject of the charismatic he has much to contribute.

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  • Donna Carlaw

    I’ll say it one more time. 🙂 John MacArthur said that in his opening message to the conference. He never was talking about all Charismatics, and he made that clear from the beginning. I think he over stated some things, but he never said that all Charismatics are going to hell. Anyway…Take care, Adrian. God bless.

    • Cal Koe

      Bad to put words into John MacArthur’s mouth but really not as serious as attributing to the Holy Spirit things He did not do or say, esp strange things that Lee Gradys call strange fires.Whether that is blasphemy or not or whether that is what is referred to in Matt7:21, we will know in eternity. But then it will be too late to do anything about it, so why take the risk to continue with strange fires , or be part of it or why be apologists for them.

      • Donna Carlaw

        I just read this again, Cal. Wise words, these. Thank you. Grady has a great article at Charisma entitled 5 Ways the Prosperity Gospel is Hurting Africa.

  • John Mushenhouse

    Once again, the world is hurting. They need to hear about the Love that Jesus has for them. These blogs have become quite petty. I challenge everyone to go witness to a hurting one today. Why give further attention to someone who allows themselves to be called by a title they never earned anyhow. Why use any title besides, Christian, child of God, beloved or brethren to begin with.
    It is all to gain acceptance with the worldly standards. A University/Seminary President must have a secularly recognized title I suppose. This should tell us all we need to know.
    As far as myself being a Christian, one can never mistake the presence of the risen Lord living in you. Jesus is my Lord. Nobody else ‘s verdict is important. With Paul, I know whom I have believed. Discussion is over.
    To Jesus alone be the glory. He is the only one worthy to be talked about. Look at what He did and it wasn’t bestowed on Him honorably.
    Isn’t Jesus wonderful

    • Jim D

      It is missed by many that the genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit are not some self concocted toys or tools,or the result of confusion or self hypnosis, but self expressions of the Holy Spirit Himself. ( Gk Phanerosis 1Cor 12:6) Surely it cannot be said that the Holy Spirit Himself is forbidden to do so today. Also, surely the benefits of Christ’s ascension wherein
      Christ gave gifts and ministries to men, are as time proofed as the benefits of Calvary and Christ’s resurrection. If not, how can we be sure all three aspects are not arbitrary.

      In regard to the manifestations (expressions) of the Holy Spirit, the likes of MacArthur have been around for a long time and they come and go, but the Holy Spirit will always continue to anoint the ministry of Christ’s body. It’s sad that the problem of being too big on the letter quenches the Holy Spirit in far too many.
      Thankfully the balanced ministry of the Word and the Spirit will continue to Glorify Jesus, and bring precious souls into His kingdom.

      Years ago a cartoon illustrated this.
      It depicted some men in a dingy named Dispensation
      Teaching. It was irretrievably tied to the ocean floor. As the tide came in the dingy was tipping and soon would be swamped and sunk. The tide was called the Rise of the Holy Spirit.

      If the Apostle Paul could visit MacArthur’s church. Paul would be forbidden to teach and practice what he taught, Sorry but it is Bro. MacArthur who is preaching a different message to Paul, which would attract Paul’s plain condemnation.To fail to see the correlation between the preached word and confirming signs, is a failure indeed.

      The cessationist theory was invented to make the lack of the reality of the Holy Spirit’s working in the church, appear to be biblical. What a prime example of making experiential realities , or rather the lack of, the arbiter of God’s word. Surely good theology should bring us into an experiential ( read real) knowledge of God rather than just intellectual assumptions. As such as Martyn Lloyd Jones have said. No one in the N.T. had to be intellectualized (proof texted) that they had received the Holy Spirit, they knew, whether of not. empirically.

      It may be interesting to observe that much of Pauls teaching to the Corinthians was to validate, and bring in to order what was happening by the Holy Spirit. Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost included
      a similar purpose. Sadly today some use those same teachings to deny the experience that gave rise to the subsequent teaching.

      Finally, an illuminating study is to discover why the KJV ,admittedly, interpolates the word ‘unknown’ before tongues in 1 Cor 14: 2, 4, 13, 14, 19,

      • Jim D

        My above comments were meant to be complimentary and in similar vein to John Mushenhouse, who I trust is okay with this. I join him in the simplicity of saying ,’ I know whom I have believed…” Jesus is a wonderful persuader. Like the ex blind man, to whom the theorists of his day tried to demean Christ, and who were incensed that such as he should instruct them, he answered, ‘ this one thing I know once I was blind but now I see’ His comprehension of truth illustrated their blindness. Jesus said something like this. some have eyes but see not.

        Whilst not demeaning honest study of the word at all Jesus’ words come to mind.

        Luk_10:21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.
        (By the way it’s set in good context)

    • John –

      Let’s enjoy the opportunity for the community of Christ together to both live out the power of the gospel and the Holy Spirit, and also discuss theology. We must not belittle that, for teachers, discussing biblical theology is a joy. Of course, we don’t want it to simply be theory. All this must become practical. But God gave teachers also as gifts. We must appreciate the full gamut – apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. But, yes, I agree that we have to guard against being too theologically pedantic.

  • I find it funny how there is an emphasis on “reformed continuationists,” as if that particular ilk is THE best to offer within continuationism. But I think you’ll find just as many astute, non-reformed continuationist, such as Ben Witherington, Gordon Fee, Jack Deere and Craig Keener.

    Of course, I think “reformed” really isn’t down to “Calvinism alone,” something people forget, maybe that MacArthur forgets. Most historic reformed folk don’t necessarily see Reformed Baptists and The Gospel Coalition as being fully reformed. That’s neither here nor there for me. But I think to continue to put out that “reformed continuationists” are THE best of continuationists is still somewhat superior orientated.

  • John B

    I just listened to the first 2 minutes of the Q&A and had to stop because Phil Johnson and MacArthur immediately brought out the broad brush claiming the charismatic movement accepts everything.


    This is just tiring and the strange fire folk continue to prove they are not qualified to speak on the topic. Pentecostal denominations, like the A/G, have a long history of discernment when it comes to the abuses of the charismata. The research wouldn’t take too long to prove it.

  • Jesse Ratcliff

    Sorry, didn’t know much about McArthur before this, and after ‘Strange Fire’ have not desire to know anything in the future. He may have valuable insights in other matter but his language and behaviour over Charismatic gifts means I’m just not interested.