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Why John MacArthur May Be Losing His Voice

strange-fire

It is awfully hard to write a blog expressing disagreement. I particularly have trouble when it comes to naming names. I am not saying it is necessarily wrong, I am just saying I don’t do it well. I would rather keep things generic. On top of all this, it is really hard to write criticism about someone whom I respect so much. John MacArthur, the pastor, teacher, author, and Christian spokesman, is a man of God who has brought so much growth in my life in so many ways. He is an incredible Bible teacher who has changed many people’s lives for the better.

(Of course, when something starts this way, nothing before the “but” really matters, does it?)

But . . .

In his “Strange Fire” conference (that starts today), book (upcoming), and ensuing promotions, John MacArthur has, I believe, acted very irresponsibly and is doing incredible damage to the body of Christ.

It is no secret that John MacArthur pushes the polemic line and causes many of us to be uncomfortable. This is just who he is and I don’t really expect him to change. But this conference is an excessively eristic and unnecessarily divisive crusade against charismatics. And, to be frank, it is even over the top for him.

Now, let me make sure you know: I have not seen the conference or read his book. But I have been reading reviews of the book and viewing the promotional videos, created by John MacArthur, for this anti-charismatic campaign. You can see some of the videos here. It is quite the production. And this is not some passing slip of the tongue that may be excused (as is sometimes the case). This is a full-blown, all-out war he has declared.

Please understand that I am not charismatic. I have often expressed myself as the most “wannabe charismatic” non-charismatic you will ever meet. As well, I used to be as anti-charismatic as anyone you would ever meet. Frankly, charismatics made me angry. I attributed all that went on in charismatic circles to the work of Satan. I called, pleaded, and prayed that charismatics would “convert” to cessationism. And my arguments were, at least to me, persuasive.

However, I changed. God put way too many flies in my ointment for me to remain in this excessively polemic position. I suppose the first fly was “what’s his name” that sat next to me in undergrad. He was a charismatic. Worse than that, he spoke in tongues. I practically had a demon next to me! However, all semester long I observed this guy. I came to realize that though he knew everything I knew, he was still charismatic. What gave? I thought the right answers dispatched would bring home the booty of change. But he remained charismatic and continued to speak in tongues (though not in front of me). On top of this, he seemed to love the same Jesus I loved. On top of that, he seemed to follow the Lord better than me. I came to realize he was a better, more devoted Christian than I was. How could that be, if he had a demon? He was the first fly and this fly worked me over.

Eventually, I began to realize there was a whole other world of charismatics I had never met. My primary exposure to charismatics had been through crazy people on television and a highly controversial local pastor. Crazy church services, uninterpreted tongues, being “drunk” in the Holy Spirit, erratic prophecies left unchecked, people barking in the Spirit, and people howling at the moon was all I had known. John MacArthur’s Charismatic Chaos and Hank Hanegraaff’s writings increased my faulty views. But, this one fly — “what’s his name” — disturbed it all and introduced me to something different. This new exposure was filled with intellectual heroes. J. P. Moreland and Wayne Grudem were the next flies. How could these guys who were so theologically astute, thoughtful, balanced, and godly be charismatic? After all, they were thinkers. Charismatics are not supposed to be thinkers!

Soon, the flies became so many that I had to throw out the ointment altogether. Gordon Fee, John Piper, Sam Storms, Craig Keener,  C.J. Mahaney, Stanley Horton, and many other scholars made me rethink my position and return to the Scriptures. I now have a relationship with many of these guys and call them friends (one, I call pastor). Of course I have not been convinced by them (as I am not charismatic), but I have changed. No longer am I anti-charismatic. I am a non-charismatic wanna charismatic.

The reason I changed is because I quit characterizing all charismatics by their red-headed ugly stepchildren.

But for some reason John MacArthur hasn’t followed this same path. His criticism of the charismatic movement is more intense than ever. In fact, I would say that it is sinfully irresponsible. (Oh, that hurt to write . . . forgive me, Lord, if I am wrong.) He unnecessarily and continually lumps all charismatics together with practically no distinction. He says that the charismatic “offers to God unacceptable worship – distorted worship.” He calls it “strange fire.” He says they are “Satan’s false teachers, marching to the beat of their own illicit desires, gladly propagat[ing] his errors. They are spiritual swindlers, con men, crooks, and charlatans.”

Now, of course, many who claim to be charismatic do fit this description. I don’t think anyone would disagree.

One of the problems I have observed over the years is that the beginning of a movement is always the easiest to criticize. Many Christian movements in theology and piety are, at their beginning, very unrefined. Sometimes they contain some heretical elements. But over the years, they begin to change, adjust, mature, and sand down the rough edges. Think about dispensationalism for a moment. When someone criticizes dispensationalism, they almost never criticize it as it stands today. Criticism is made of Darby and Scofield. But so much has changed!

It is irresponsible to criticize a movement in a form that has already faded or is fading. Like dispensationalism, the charismatic movement has gone through many maturations. We talk about it in waves: the first wave, Pentacostalism; the second, the Charismatics; the third, led by John Wimber and the “Signs and Wonders Movement.”  I think we are in a fourth wave where we have the rise of the “intellectual charismatics.” Either way, things have changed.

More than this, it is irresponsible to criticize the easy targets within a movement. We call this a “straw man” argument. It is when you choose the worst representative you can and argue against him. Of course, with charismatics in popular culture, the easy targets are the “crazies” who get all the air time. Why do they get the air time? Well, it is entertaining for many to watch. And the sensationalism that can come from these abuses is also easy for the non-charismatic to look at and discredit. But think of all the movements which are part of the Christian fold today that could be picked apart because of some abuses and excesses within. The first two that come to mind would be Calvinism and Pretribulationalism. Certainly conferences could be done about both, characterizing each by the worst-of. But how responsible and godly is that? Yes, you may make a qualification at the beginning and the end saying, “Look, I realize that not all Calvinists are arrogant SOBs, but the movement is dangerous. It is filled with monsters who believe God hates unbelievers.” Or, concerning Pretribulationalism, “I know that not all Pretribulationalists are date setters, but the theology is dangerous and produces an unbiblical mentality. It is filled with date-setting and causes people to be unconcerned with this present world.” Of course, these criticisms can be true, but they are not the necessary outcome of their beliefs and, more importantly, they don’t deal honestly with the arguments.

But it is not simply this issue that has compelled me to write this post. If this was the first time John MacArthur had irresponsibly characterized a movement he is against, that would be one thing. But, unfortunately, this is what he is becoming known for. MacArthur is already seen by many as a divisive heresy-hunter.

The worst of it all is that John MacArthur knows of Gordon Fee, Sam Storms, John Piper, and all the others. Yet he does not seem to acknowledge their influence. Why doesn’t he have some of these guys join his conference? They all speak against the same excesses within their own movement. A unified voice would actually be more effective in helping people guard against these abuses.

Because of all this, John MacArthur is losing his voice, and I don’t want him to. His reputation dismantles his platform to speak at just about any conference. He has worked himself into a corner where every time he writes a book or opens his mouth, many of us say, “Oh no!” before anything else. His radio program is called “Grace to You” and we are often left thinking “grace to who?”

John MacArthur says the charismatic movement “blasphemes the Holy Spirit” and “attributes to the Holy Spirit even the work of Satan.” Maybe he should think about who is actually attributing the work of the Spirit to Satan. I am not a charismatic, but such a statement really scares me. And because of this it would seem (even though the conference is sold out) that John MacArthur may be losing his voice.

223 Responses to “Why John MacArthur May Be Losing His Voice”

  1. After Rich Nathan dismantled the arguments that MacArthur raised in “Charismatic Chaos,” I stopped giving him a whole lot of weight. He’s been doing the same thing for years.

    It’s sad… but, it’s just how he seems to roll.

  2. You said this much more graciously than I might have.

    Spot on.

    Thank you.

  3. All due respect dude, and I mean that because I really appreciate this blog and your ministry, you have been a blessing to me…but you should not have written this scathing critique before you saw the conference it read the book! That is just plain irresponsible. You talk about MacArthur as though you know he will not make any distinctions at this conference but how can you say that before the fact? Are you a prophet? This review should have waited. I guess we will see if you were right or wrong.

    • David, I thought the same thing until I saw all the promotional videos. There are over a dozen of MacArthur already teaching his strange fire stance. They are more than just promotional videos. If you look at them, they are teaching videos. So if you would like to see this blog only as a critique to the videos, these would be sufficient enough to instigate it.

  4. Thanks for your post. This is not a debate that I’ve looked into, largely because I’ve just been able to ‘taste and see’ the reality of God at work in charismatic settings (and elsewhere too!). Without mounting an argument, I personally know and can testify that cessationalism is false. How disturbing that the ordinary experience of many Christians is the object of an unwarranted polemic.

  5. David L –

    Here is an article by Michael Brown who has read an advanced review copy of the book and he graciously & humbly points out the same things (and more).

  6. Michael,

    I don’t get much time to participate as I have with school and ministry and I wanted to comment. Dr. MacArthur has been pushing the limit for a while. It has damaged and hurt him among the students being taught now. Many young students see the valid criticisms mixed with the emotionalism and hysteria and instead of looking to peel apart the bad from the good, they end up rejecting it in total and his voice altogether. Unfortunately, there is also the subtle damage he is also doing to his denomination as they are more and more beening seen (based on my very small group of fellow students and fellow ministerial candidates) as unchristian in their apologetics and a isolating expression of “Southern Christianity” at its worst.
    I know it looks like he is going great guns, but the medieval Roman Catholic Church thought the same when they started the inquisition. They are still doing penance for that today.
    I pray that abundant grace find him unawares and bring him around soon. As Christians, we do not need any more negative stereotypes to combat.
    Go with God and I pray the Holy Spirit and Sam Storms
    get you soon (LOL!)
    Your brother and always your student,

    Jay Saldana

  7. As far as I see, it’s all part of the chaos of sola scripture. Nobody can agree on what to believe or what hermeneutic to follow, and much worse…. nobody can agree on what to do when people disagree.

    Things related to acts of the spirit are difficult, because they relate to experience of the Spirit more than what the text says. This is the central area where sola scriptura falls down. The experience of the people of God over 2000 years is the best witness to what the spirit is doing in the world.

  8. Thanks for his post Michael.

    I too have seen his videos promoting this, and think he is dangerously close to blaspheming the Spirit of God, if not quenching him.

    I also appreciate the graciousness you approached this and think that Macarthur has now made a mockery of the TG4TG as he plainly states he doesn’t consider some on the platform with him as equals in the Gospel nor does he stand with them….

  9. I agree that it is wrong to call good evil and evil good, but the mistakes are not equivalent. To attribute the work of Satan to God is unacceptable; but to attribute the work of God to Satan—that is what Jesus calls blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

    If MacArthur is right then the charismatics are badly mistaken and need to repent; but if he is wrong and the charismatic movement is (broadly) of God then it is him risking blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

  10. Thanks for a great post – couldn’t agree more. I’ve not really been affected much by Dr MacArthur as I was a bit of a latecomer to the party, but whilst I admire his commitment to expository preaching I have always found his polemic somewhat ungracious. I think I first noticed it in his series of posts on the “YRR” movement a couple of years ago.

    As a “card carrying” charismatic who would love to see a greater unity in the church, particularly with our Reformed brethren, and combat the anti-intellectualism that is all too common in parts of the charismatic church, I find MacArthur’s words hurtful and damaging.

    And, as I mentioned in a comment somewhere else the other day, I think that anyone who bases a conference on a negative rather than a positive is already on a poor footing.

  11. This is an ill-advised post for several reasons:

    1. You haven’t heard or read what you are critiquing. That means you are speaking about things you don’t know. That’s unwise and dangerous.

    2. It partakes of the emotionalism you decry. You can’t make an emotional argument that these guys are nice guys and therefore their theology doesn’t matter. I would say their theology matters more because they are nice guys.

    3. You are factually incorrect. MacArthur is aware of Piper, Grudem, Mahaney, etc. He has even spoken with some of them and had them to speak at his church. Somehow you fail to consider (at least here) what that means.

    4. You fail to discuss the issue on its merits. You admit to being non-charismatic, but your focus is not on the issue that matters–namely, the theology and resulting confusion of the movement you disagree with. The issue has to be theology, not personality.

  12. Michael thanks for the post. One thing I had a question about was, if I understand correctly, you consider John Piper charismatic? I know he and MacArthur have spoken together many times. I have listened to Piper for years and have never even had that thought enter my head. Thanks bro.

  13. Sometimes promotional videos and other such blurbs are written by marketeers in a sensational or somewhat exaggerated way to incite controversary and interest with increased sales and attendance as the goal. I look forward to a review of MacArthur’s book by someone like CMP who is not a charismatic but whose nose is not tweeked by their normative theology and practice.

  14. Phil Barron: Piper has talked a number of times in various interviews about believing in the continuation of the Spiritual gifts. There are probably a number of examples, but for one example see him talking about the gift of tongues here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzipsG3-S6A

  15. Does nobody else find it amusing that MaCarthur is putting on the same kind of sideshow antics to sell books and pack conferences he slanders the charismatics for?

    One side overplays their prophecy and healings and the other, it now seems, overplays their discernment.

    “Step right up and see the amazing man of God doing what no other man can…” The hypocrisy is almost laughable.

  16. I know that Billy Graham is Charasmatic. He became one on campus as a college student. A lot of speakers have to keep that hidden because Baptists are afraid of it. I personally think the enemy will do anything to pull out all stops to stop the Holy Spirit. And it sounds like MacArthur is his latest tool to use to get Christians judging and hating each other. A house divided cannot stand.

  17. “Maybe he should think about who really may be attributing the work of the Spirit to Satan. ”

    Indeed.

    THAT is the real definition of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit–calling the work of the Holy Spirit the work of Satan (Mark 3).

    His commentary on 1 Cor 14:1-4 is the most convoluted thing I have EVER read; Paul supposedly speaks truth and speaks sarcastically interchangeably within the same VERSE! And only Johnny Mac can sort it out!

  18. Michael,
    I would agree with a previous comment that you should reserve judgment about this until you have a sense for what is happening with this conference. It is not just John MacArthur that is sharing at this conference. Joni Erickson Tada is also speaking at this conference. You may be totally right but I think it would be prudent to listen intently to the different messages from this conference and do a follow up post on what happened. I would also say that there is still some charismatic theology that is definitely dangerous out there. It is still affecting people even if it doesn’t show up in much of the teaching anymore. Just spend time with someone who is on hospice that has been affected by some bad theology as they struggle with whether they measure up to someone else’s definition of spiritual (outside of the Gospel) and see if you think it is a dead issue.

  19. For me, this is just one more in a long line of reasons that I think MacArthur does not know what he is talking about.

  20. Ben Thorpe..post 13

    That video was gold. I love Pipers humility and honesty in this.

  21. “…this, unfortunately, is what he is becoming known for. MacArthur is already seen by so many as a divisive heresy-hunter.”

    So are we shocked? I am wondering what Christians should, or can, do about such individuals before they get to this extreme point.

  22. Michael,

    I believe I understand the heart behind what you wrote. However, I believe that if you had grown up in the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement as I have (in 2 large respected denominations), see and participate in all of the manifestations that are commonly referenced in the movement, and then be profoundly changed by true biblical interpretation and leave the movement, you might see this issue differently and perhaps be even more sympathetic to the urgency portrayed by MacArthur and others.

    I praise God everyday for setting me free through biblical truth and a right understanding of the Spirit and His work, and I pray that my family and friends who are still in it will be as well.

  23. Thank you sir,

    This conference is way over the top if it is as advertised. He lost his voice long ago with me simply by the stridency of his posture. His earlier books did not pass the simple test of caricaturing so I am not surprised that he maintains the same worn out path.

    Clearly John is attempting to force an either/or status. He wants to create an environment where the kind of openness reflected in your blog is not possible. It is far too late. He will fail. He will only achieve the point you are making of muting his own voice. He is cascading into irrelevancy.

    In fairness I am a pastor who was for 25 years outside of charismatic renewal and I am now a full participant. To be sure we have an abundance of weirdoes, extremists and clowns to lampoon and avoid.

    John MacArthur speaks with the kind of certainty that demands conformity. He might just become the kind of sideshow that he is decrying. He is on his way to becoming the worst example of his own position, a caricature in the forming.

  24. Either you believe the charismatic doctrine, light, medium or heavy to be errant or not. If you believe it to be errant and seeing this error is present in many places, it stands to reason that a magnanimous error regarding the person of God be responded to so robustly.

    Your argument is that he is damaging something, what precisely is he damaging if he is right? This is a gross error regarding the person and work if God. And he should what, be sweet and light? He has to answer to God.

    Orthodoxy in one area does not exempt men and movements from error or being called out.

    I think MacArthur is losing an audience but not because he errors in method or message on this matter but because a generation of boomers and x’ers have arisen who eschew a definitive and dogmatic pneumatology.

    You are disciples with apologies and uncertainties overflowing where once orthodoxy stood in those before you. You seek to inherit the voice of orthodoxy and dogmatics with ears tuned to rationalism and the need of a theological child who claims, “well…it isn’t spelled out so I can’t say with certainty and the man who would dare do so is divisive and narrow minded” and believe it is insightful and illuminating to reject cessationism because it is so fundamentalistic. Yours is a reactionary protest based in disaffection.

    Never mind going to war before hearing the whole matter and you want to charge someone with irresponsibility?

  25. Missy M: You state that “Either you believe the charismatic doctrine, light, medium or heavy to be errant or not” but that’s a false dichotomy. There is a spectrum of charismatic theology, in the same way that there is a spectrum of many other theological types. This is, in part, the very thing that Michael is talking about – lumping all charismatics together, and tarring them with the same brush. You can’t say that it’s either errant or not, because it’s not a single doctrine, but rather a large collection of doctrines which each need to be considered.

    For example, there is an extreme charismatic belief whereby prophetic words carry the same weight as Scripture. Some people believe this, but the vast majority of charismatic believers would reject that doctrine wholeheartedly.

    You also say that “generation of boomers and x’ers have arisen who eschew a definitive and dogmatic pneumatology,” which would include pretty much everyone below the age of 67, but within those generations we do see some very definitive and dogmatic pneumatology from the likes of the aforementioned Fee, Piper, Grudem and Storms.

  26. MacArthur is at least consistent. Over the years he has always been of the same opinion. It seems to me that those of that same persuasion are just plain fearful of what the Holy Spirit decides to do with the Church. Thank God that the H.S. does not need John MacArthur’s permission for anyone He chooses to speak in tongues. I have always felt like the kid who opened his.Christmas present and had some bully pull it out of my hands and then tell me it wasn’t mine to be the same as having the gift God gave me called strange fire by some other person who didn’t get the same gift as me.

  27. I’ll go on-record to have this conversation with Michael (or anyone) to be podcasted and linked, without edits, at least at Teampyro.blogspot.com:

    (1) A quantitative discussion of the ratio of “good charismatics” vs. “red-headed step children”.

    (2) A quantitative discussion on the experience of miracles in the church.

    (3) A qualitative discussion on the relationship of the Charismatic movement to the spread of the Prosperity Gospel.

    (4) An open discussion of the consequences of Grudem-esque (that is: allegedly “cautious charismatic”) doctrine in the life of a church.

    Anyone can find me; if you can’t use Google, please e-mail at frank@iturk.com. I have no time for merely-private bickering about this subject. Public discussions only; serious people only.

    Ball’s in your court, whoever you may be.

  28. One more thing, are R. C. Sproul and Joni Eareckson Tada losing their voice too? They are both speaking at this conference.

  29. I suspect that not all of MacArthur’s speakers share his extreme positions. I doubt they will draw a line in the sand the way JM has.

  30. Those promo videos were not done by the marketing team. They are basically excerpts from the book and conference. Again, there are over a dozen. I encourage you all to watch them before saying this post was premature. This post would have been of the same substance even if there were no conference or book since the videos were so substantive.

  31. Frank, I am not sure if I would be best since I am not charismatic. But I would be willing to discuss this.

  32. Michael,

    I too think that you have jumped the gun. Even if you confined your critique only to the videos and not to the unseen conference and unread book, a careful and even-handed viewing of just those videos would tell a bit of a different story than what you’ve told.

    MacArthur understands that there are people like “what’s his name” in the Charismatic movement. This post/video says that plainly: http://www.gty.org/blog/B130520 . Along with this, the entire final chapter of the book, “An Open Letter to My Continuationist Friends,” demonstrates that MacArthur understands the nuances in the Charismatic movement, and that not every individual is as culpable as every other.

    The other burden that this book and conference have is to demonstrate as just factually incorrect the popular conception that Storms, Mahaney, Grudem, Piper, etc. are the mainstream of the Charismatic movement, while people like Benny Hinn, Mike Bickle, Paul Cain, the NAR, John Crowder, Rodney Howard-Browne, Toronto Blessing, etc. are the lunatic fringe. In point of fact, faithful guys like Piper and Grudem are themselves the fringe of this movement, and that the overwhelming majority throughout the world (presently and historically) are deserving of the monikers: “spiritual swindlers, con men, crooks, and charlatans” or those deceived by them. And the conference and book claim to prove that. (A perusal of the “Top Posts” section of mennoknight.wordpress.com, or of the video documentation on Phil Johnson’s FB page, may help too.)

    Aside from this, it’s worth noting that others such as RC Sproul, Steve Lawson, Conrad Mbewe (who pastors in Zambia and is in the backyard of what we’ve exported to the third world in the Charismatic movement), Joni Eareckson Tada, and Justin Peters are joining MacArthur in this effort, because they see it to be as desperately needed as he does. So are the 4,000+ attendees from 50 states and 20 countries.

    Perhaps the problem is a bit more grave than you’ve perceived.

  33. I fear that the anti-charismatics, with such a wooden definition of what the ‘gifts’ are, have got to the place where winning the argument has begun to dominate.

    I would still consider myself ‘charismatic’ (how I have come to dislike such labels!) IF by that you mean seeking to understand and experience the gifts that appear in the pages of the NT, but anti-charismatic if you mean the barking, bar-tender, falling over, generational demons and inner healing stuff, i.e. what is not in the NT.

    Judging/discerning is fine and commanded – and indeed essential, but some of the strange fire at this conference may turn out to be coming from the burning of straw men!

    I hope there will at least be some attempt by those present to say what they are for, rather than just what they are against.

  34. I’d still just like to meet one charismatic who knows his bible and doctrine and church history as well as a cesassionist. And no, I don’t count Piper as one, he’s too light of a continualionist. I hear about these people all the time on the Internet, and yet have never met one in person.

  35. StuartB
    You must be new to this site if you are not familar with Sam Storm, who clearly knows the bible and doctrine and church history better than most cesassionists.

  36. Here in lies the reason I left organized religion years ago. Reading and studying the scripture on my own with the help of the Holy Spirit has brought me closer to Jesus than any teacher I heard while trying to live in the traditions & forms of organized religion. The scripture does tell us it is the job of the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. Could all of these smoke screens be what Pater was talking about in 1Peter 4:17? Study church history from the NT and you see it over & over. A movement (or whatever you want to call it) begins in the flow of the Holy Spirit then man decides he needs to control it so it doesn’t get out of hand, the Holy Spirit is out the door. If it gets really bad the larger group begins putting to death those that disagree. Check out Calvin in Geneva!! Of course we can’t kill them outright in today’s world so we just kill their character and the lazy sheep go along for the ride because it makes them feel superior!!

  37. Michael, I trust you have downloaded the Strange Fire app on your iPhone and you will be tuned in to respond to what is said. I will be listening as the conference starts in about an hour and a half. We’ll see.
    R.C. Sproul is also a participant. I did listen to a number of the promotional videos over the past week.

    • I was sad to see R.C. Sproul, but he is more balanced. Again, I just wish he had Piper. And, no, I will not be listening. I don’t have time and, unless they are being deceptive on the videos, then I know what they are going to say. And if their conference does not represent the videos, there are some other issues.

  38. For anyone who wants to understand this topic, I heartly recomend the Why I Am – Am Not a Charismatic series of podcasts on this site. 17 great episodes with CMP, Sam Storms and Tim Kimberly get into over 8 hours of great discussion on the topic.

    Smart, bible believing pastors discussing the topic in a rational manner. So rare these days.

    Perhaps Frank can does his homework first, than make random internet challenges.

  39. “(even though he conference is sold out)”, if it sells …there will be a motive for any nonsense out there!

    BTW;I am yet to find Christianity free online, everyone has a sales pitch, a book to sell, an article copyrighted….It is hard to find truth that you can share free of charge….!
    Don’t see this practice in the teachings of Christ!

  40. Brendt Wayne Waters October 16, 2013 at 11:12 am

    For those criticizing Michael for speaking about this issue before the conference, book, commemorative stamp, etc, two (inter-related) thoughts:

    1. In February 2011, it was officially declared acceptable in evangelical circles to make definitive statements about a work based solely on promotional materials. I find it (more than a bit) intriguing that there’s an overlap between those who were happy to see it done to Bell and those who are upset when it’s done to MacArthur.

    2. The video for “Love Wins” was unclear — how could it not be, after all? It was Rob Bell. In contrast, no one has ever walked away from a John MacArthur book, sermon, or video (let alone a dozen of them) wondering, “Now, what did he *really* mean?”

    I’m not a fan of either man, so don’t devolve this into a diatribe against Bell to try to put me in my place. My point is the compare/contrast, not the individuals.

  41. Charles Parham, a key figure in the Pentecostal movement, denounced the work of William Seymour, a black preacher, and the integration of white and black that he saw on Azusa St. Charles Parham, was a racist. Despite being the one that Seymour heard these teachings from, Parham still considered the revival on Azusa St to be a work of the devil.
    The history of the Pentecostal movement and its early leaders reveals confusion, sinfulness and death. Death because people were so convinced they could speak in tongues they traveled to other countries without any preparation and many died.

    Just to clarify, are you using charismatic synonymously with Pentecostal?

  42. I agree with Jason Woelm. I too have a charismatic/dominion theology background. I was in so much bondage to legalism disguised as spirituality. There was also a lot of pride involved, thinking we were much more spiritual than other “Christians”. I was confused because people in the church seemed to love Jesus so much. How could they be wrong???? I am convinced that there were some genuine born again Christians there, but there were also many wolves among the sheep. I am now more free to love God and to serve others than I ever was in the charismatic church. I know a lot of “nice” Muslims and non-Christians, but this does not prove that they are filled with the Spirit, I agree that personality cannot be the test of truth. It is when we open up to influences other than the Holy Scriptures that we become vulnerable to much deception. I believe we can be “led” by the Spirit, but it must always be in agreement with the revealed Word of God. All that to say that we can not judge Pastor MacArthur’s heart, I believe his intentions are to free believers from the deception so prevalent in certain circles, not to hurt the Body of Christ.

  43. Brendt Wayne Waters October 16, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Tio, did you just decry the lack of free online Christian resources on a free Christian blog?

  44. @ David Carlson, no, not that new, been reading it since 2008. Very familiar with Sam Storms, but again, I’ve never met him or others like him.

  45. StuartB-

    I do recommend the podcast David Carlsen mentioned. You may not agree with Sam Storms’ opinions, but it will show that he “knows his bible and doctrine and church history as well as a cesassionist”.

  46. Here it is free….other places are not…blogs are usually ok information, but when searching for specifics like “the destiny of the un-evangelized” or “tithing” for example I run into “you must buy this…..”
    I translate a lot of good theology to my circle and cultural background….pentecostal,charismatic to the max, full of emotional content but lacking in serious theology….and just about anything I could use to share with my own has a price tag on it!

  47. Ben

    The men you mentioned, particularly Piper, have a weakened pneumatology and this is demonstrated by their uncertainties and imprecision regarding prophecy, just to begin with.

    As to forms of charismaticism, it is irrelevant, it is error in the form of a little or a lot. Just as the denial of the Trinity comes in soft or disguised/muted forms and some blatant. And I have no doubt JM will deal with the various brands distinctly.

  48. Michael – I think you are too kind. In my opinion (worth very little), MacArthur has become the cessationist Pat Robertson. Not only has he lost credibility to many, he is leading many others into dangerous ground.

    And TeamPyro have become his thugs (see Turk’s invite).

  49. Brendt Wayne Waters October 16, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    I think I saw Weakened Pneumatology open for CCR in 1977.

  50. The soloist hasn’t lost HIS voice!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Odd Approach of the Strange Fire Conference | The Prodigal Thought - October 16, 2013

    […] Michael Patton of Reclaiming the Mind Ministries (he being a cessationist): Why John MacArthur May Be Losing His Voice […]

  2. The Odd Approach of the Strange Fire Conference | To Be Continued... - October 16, 2013

    […] Michael Patton of Reclaiming the Mind Ministries (he being a cessationist): Why John MacArthur May Be Losing His Voice […]

  3. Cessationism, Charismania and Criticism | Lisa Robinson - October 16, 2013

    […] My heart was a bit heavy as I witnessed the blogosphere light up today over John MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference and the broad brush stroke polemics against Charismatics. I appreciated Michael Patton’s thoughts on the subject. […]

  4. Links I like | Blogging Theologically - October 17, 2013

    […] Why John MacArthur May Be Losing His Voice […]

  5. Strange Fire Turns Toward Strained Polemics | Think Theology - October 17, 2013

    […] his forthcoming Strange Fire. In addition to Brown’s final appeal, Michael Patton wrote on why he thinks MacArthur may be losing his voice and provided some extremely helpful reflections on why MacArthur wasn’t being as thoughtful […]

  6. Adding Fuel to the Strange Fire | Thinking Out Loud - October 18, 2013

    […] Also earlier in the week, C. Michael Patton at Parchment and Pen says that with the advance materials promoting the conference, MacArthur “acted very irresponsibly and is doing incredible damage to the body of Christ.” Why John MacArthur May Be Losing His Voice […]

  7. Links & Short Thoughts on Strange Fire - Walking Christian - One Way, One Truth, One Life - October 18, 2013

    […] 4. Why John MacArthur May Be Losing His Voice […]

  8. on the strange fire conference | συνεσταύρωμαι: living the crucified life - October 18, 2013

    […] Michael Patton (a non charismatic) talks about how John MacArthur is “losing his voice.” […]

  9. Fighting Porn; Redefining Sin; Justice Scalia; Deceptive Memorial Services for Soldiers; Obamacare; « ChosenRebel's Blog - October 18, 2013

    […] and the Church Staff  (Stunning to read how big a problem this is nationally.) Why John MacArthur May Be Losing His Voice  (Important article that discusses the attempt by Dr. MacArthur to lump all […]

  10. John MacArthur and hearing the voice of God | Kingdom In The Midst - October 19, 2013

    […] been made in recent days about California pastor John MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference. Michael Patton, a MacArthur fan, offers a critique of the conference, the book, and MacArthur’…, so I will […]

  11. Are Pentecostals offering Strange Fire? : The Pneuma Review - October 21, 2013

    […] CREDO HOUSE: WHY JOHN MACARTHUR MAY BE LOSING HIS VOICE […]

  12. Random Thoughts in the Aftermath of Strange Fire | Watch Your Life and Doctrine Closely... - October 22, 2013

    […] C Michael Patton over at Parchment and Pen (and also Credo House Ministries) has declared that MacArthur is losing his voice among Evangelicals, and has also informed the whole world what someone who’s never been part of the charismatic […]