49 Comments

WHY JOHN MACARTHUR MAY BE LOSING HIS VOICE


(HT) Sincerely hope someone will take the time to read this message written by Michael Patton at Credo House Ministries.

Personally, I believe he started losing his voice/influence some time ago. But my reasons for “why” is for another post at another time…

quote,

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 you 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 really matters before the “but” 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 be different. 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 engaged in reading reviews of the book and promotion videos, created by John MacArthur, for this anti-charismatic campaign. You can see some of the videos here. It is quite a 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 “want to be 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.

Continue reading here

49 comments on “WHY JOHN MACARTHUR MAY BE LOSING HIS VOICE

  1. These self serving conferences only pad the pocketbooks of preachers and singers and rev up the base. The hotels and restaurants love them but they change nothing.

    • Though i’ve never attended any of these Christian conferences in my life, i agree with you. Over the years i’ve known fellow believers who almost make a career out of traveling to one conference after another. Never once have i witnessed any “good fruit” produced in any of them from attending these meetings–only empty pocketbooks and wallets as they return loaded down with books and tapes (now DVD’s and CD’s) purchased at these conferences, which end up gathering dust on bookshelves.

    • Dr. MacArthur and Dr. R.C. Sproul are only in this for the financial payday and to stir up publicity? Even the modern voice of the charismatic movement, Dr. Michael Brown, didn’t level THAT accusation in his vehement opposition to the conference.

    • John MacArthur now proclaims that you can accept the mark of the beast and still be saved…..lies from the devil. He says that speaking in tongues is not real and was only for that time. He is moving in the same direction that all the masonic preachers are moving in…..The New Age god…Lucifer. The plan to merge all religions into one. Just watch as they embrace all religious expected saviors to Christ.

    • Martha Loera said:…… “John MacArthur now proclaims that you can accept the mark of the beast and still be saved…..lies from the devil. He says that speaking in tongues is not real and was only for that time. He is moving in the same direction that all the masonic preachers are moving in…..The New Age god…Lucifer. The plan to merge all religions into one. Just watch as they embrace all religious expected saviors to Christ.”

      Am I surprised that MacArthur is now being condemned of having a Luciferian spirit, and discernment sites are eager to accommodate this vitriolic nonsense? No, not really. Shocked? Yes. But surprised? No. At one point shortly after the conference, when all the disparaging comments were flying around, I jokingly said to my wife that “soon they’ll be calling MacArthur Satan himself.” Little did I know how true those words were.

      Many of the ones who attacked the Strange Fire conference said it was held merely to be divisive and served no positive purpose, because, as they told us in firm rebuke, “the Charismatic movement only has a few fringe cases who are in serious error”, and the movement “always calls out those abuses” and polices itself. Meanwhile Charismatic leader and prominent spokesman Dr. Michael Brown exercises the Charismatic discernment he claimed in rebuking MacArthur by fellowshipping with Benny Hinn for 5 days on Hinn’s TV show without saying a word about his heretical antics for the past 30 years. Not one WORD.

      All of which speaks volumes about the state of Charismatic discernment in the church today, and provides a solid answer to those who questioned the need for a call to discernment in respect to Charismatic leadership today.

      I think the best reference to what is taking place here is this verse from Isaiah 5:
      .
      ……………….Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
      Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
      Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!………………….

  2. I will gladly take the minority position here and support Dr. MacArthur and his conference. Since the announcement of this conference a few months ago, I have been stunned by the quantity and severity of the attacks he has faced by people from all quarters of what makes up modern day Christianity.

    Maybe he could have used less controversial words in his book and literature concerning the conference, but it just shows to me he is unafraid to stand up for what he believes is scriptural truth. The conference has barely gotten underway when all kinds of attacks are showering down on him. One of the worst of these came from Michael Brown of Charisma magazine.

    Can we wait to see what Dr. Sproul and the other esteemed invitees have to say, or are we just going to close our eyes and cover our ears so that we won’t be challenged to see the charismatic movement for what it truly is?

    If I say I don’t believe the Holy Spirit comes when we call him, to perform healing or miracles, or put gold teeth in my mouth, or even tell me what is going to happen tomorrow, am I engaging in “quenching the spirit”? If I say I believe the Holy Spirit seals us in the process of regeneration, bringing us from spiritual death into eternal life, and that is greatly and gloriously sufficient for me, am I being naive and simple-minded? Should I also crave the emotional thrill ride of the Holy Ghost “experience” presented in so many of our churches?

    Anyone who has not actually attended a charismatic church should learn more about it before casting their stones. I have experiences in charismatic/Pentecostal churches that would make one’s head spin. Lets listen to the esteemed speakers relate what their concerns are, and take them case by case. In other words, treat others fairly, if you expect fair treatment from them.

    As for Michael Patton, I fear it is he who is losing his voice. Quote: “I have changed. No longer am I anti-charismatic. I am a non-charismatic want-to-be charismatic.” What does that equivocating gibberish even mean, Michael?

    God bless John MacArthur and the Strange Fire Conference.

    JD Ellis

    • Thanks JD…i agree we should see what other speakers have to say who will be attending and speaking.

      *edited to add the link to Brown’s message you mentioned: A Final Appeal to Pastor John MacArthur on the Eve of His ‘Strange Fire’ Conference

      Anyone who has not actually attended a charismatic church should learn more about it before casting their stones.

      As what would be referred to as an ‘old time pentecostal’ for over 33 years i’ve found myself quite a few times (when visiting churches with friends) in what i’d refer to as charismatic surroundings. And believe me, i couldn’t get out of there fast enough. What im guessing (and it is guessing) is that the author of this article is concerned that MacArthur is guilty of what many do today–confuse charismatic with pentecostal…or lumping and judging them both as the same thing. And they are not the same.

      I actually wrote a post which included a chart concerning this common mistake in 08:

      Pentecostals And Charismatics: What’s The Difference?

      As far as myself and MacArthur, i stopped recommending his articles/messages awhile back due to a number of reasons–the most important one concerned doctrine.

  3. I don’t know anything about Macarthur, but I do not oppose him “lumping” all the Charismatics together, whether “good” as this author puts it, or “crazy,” like the ones we see on TV. Whether they’re moderate or not, crazy or not, they’re all deluded.

    It so happens I went through their movement (the Pentecostals/Charismatics) temporarily (a few years), so I have a great deal of experience with them. (I became disillusioned by them, actually the same way I became disillusioned with the GOP/Conservative movement!) I do not believe that someone who appears good or Christ-like is a good excuse to justify what it is they claim. That took me awhile to get over myself, actually. I had a lot of trouble coming to grips with people who “seemed” good, but were false prophets. It is not in seeming that we know anyone, but in the fruits they produce. And not superficial fruits, but in whether or not they speak the truth. Anybody can act good. Anybody can seem Christ-like, but that doesn’t mean that they are.

    I have known people who seem absolutely lovely. They pray constantly. They worry about the poor. They desire to evangelize, or, perhaps, are already evangelizing. But I’ve seen these same, pitiful people, get caught up in the most horrid of stupidities. People having a dream, perhaps, of some super-flu that is going to wipe out humanity within the coming months (I knew such a group. It was around the time the bird-flu was real big in the news), and, of course, it doesn’t happen. I’ve seen Prophets have the most vague dreams, Prophetesses have visions about doors blowing open and wind rushing through. (Actually, I fell in love with a girl who had such visions. But, she was as cold as the wind that rushed in her dreams!) I’ve seen the best and most holy people predicting imminent revival in various countries… and then, nothing ever happens. I’ve seen them make these claims, only for them to be forgotten and replaced with the newest ones. And these weren’t even “crazy’ Charismatics. These were people who rebuked the people who barked like animals and clucked like chickens, but they were no better off, honestly.

    All these voices they hear, all these visions and dreams, all this tongue-speaking, it’s all delusion. It doesn’t matter how good they seem. It’s delusion, and it’s sad. I know there are always people who claim they witnessed this or that, that someone accomplished this miracle, or even that they did it themselves. Well, they’re a dime a dozen. Even the Oneness Pentecostals, those anti-Trinitarian heretics,, boast of their miracles, and claim even doctors support healings of cancer of deafness or of blindness, and yet every one of those buggers is in the thrall of Satan. Every one of them will tell you that you aren’t a Christian because YOU have not been baptized by THEM.

    Appearances mean nothing, honestly. That is what I’ve learned, though it took a long time to learn it. Men are deceivers, always deceiving and being deceived. Most sad are those who deceive themselves. I’ve been among them. Nay, I may still be among them (God save me from myself!). But it happens every day.

    Now I couldn’t care less, honestly about the cessaionist-Gifts of the Spirit debate, which you may be surprised to hear after condemning their gifts as all delusion. If you read through some of the acts of the old Reformers, like the ones in Scotland, you’ll hear anecdotes that will remind you of events straight out of the book of Acts. I don’t think there is any reason why God wouldn’t perform a mighty miracle… but, these miracles that occur in scripture or in history, and these “miracles” that occur amongst these deluded people, which they in bundles at a discount, are vastly different in both character, power, and results. The character of their miracles tends towards the self-righteous, in getting people to think that if they do something for God, if they pray hard enough, if they work hard enough, if they seek long enough, if they’re good enough, they’re going to get to experience the supernatural. They want to see what is unseen, and feel what cannot be touched, and they promise men everywhere that this will be so for them.

    You know, I’ve experienced wonderful answers to prayer in my life. But, none of them ever came because I prayed hard enough. Actually, it was when I stopped trying to force God to answer, and stopped waiting for His answers to come to give me faith, that God actually made His hand on my life known. It was when I was finally content with not seeing, but trusting in God even in the darkest tunnel, that I experienced a true power of God that greatly eclipsed all the so-called miracles and stupidities of these “righteous” Charismatics. In other words, it was proven to me that “blessed are they who have not seen, and yet still believe.” Because I was happy to have not seen, and believed anyway, and suddenly I see the hand of God on my life when I neither asked for it nor expected it! And, actually, I see answers from God for prayer all the time! When, before, in those evil days, I was only given silence and despair. But “all things work unto good for them who love God, who are the called according to His purpose.” (A verse to live by!) Nowadays, I care not for such things. I am not interested at all. I trust in God, not seeing, but waiting in hope for that invisible world which I shall inherit after my death. Let these silly people worry over their spiritual gifts and whether anyone believes in them. I’ll stick with Christ and my Bible, thank you very much!

    (As an aside, I was never able to speak in tongues, even though they tried to teach me, and prayed for me. I was never able to have visions, even though they trained me up to keep asking and asking and asking. I was never able to get “slain in the Spirit,” or anything else they ever claimed. In fact, one of them told me just to start sputtering, speak whatever comes to mind, and THAT will be my tongue speak! It was, perhaps, by the grace of God that I was never of such a disposition to be taken over by their fancies. Oh, it was around that same time I actually got “attacked” by a Demon, or else bad brain chemicals over the course of a month. I was haunted for about a month. Noises, voices from downstairs, screams in the left ear or the right ear as I lay in bed. Someone stroking my head as I lay in bed, I open my eyes to look, and no one is there. Blankets getting flung off me. Hands stroking my legs. (I was also licked once, but this happened years after the events of this month I describe). And, the climax, I was gripped and growled at, which prayer, actually, put an end to, whether it was real, or else a block of cheese I ate, I know not. If it was real, I wonder then if it was not some Demon who took an interest in me because of what I was dabbling in (tongue-speaking). I had heard once of another Christian, a pentecostal, who claimed she was nearly possessed once. She claimed she felt it “enter her body,” which struck me as absurd, since the Holy Spirit is supposed to be there.)

    • I don’t know anything about Macarthur, but I do not oppose him “lumping” all the Charismatics together, whether “good” as this author puts it, or “crazy,” like the ones we see on TV.

      I can’t do that Ricardo. Just like we have in politics, we have extremists within all religions, including Christianity.

  4. For years I was stuck in a Pentecostal cult-like church and I felt as though I was drowning. I was so deceived that I could not put my finger on why I was so dissatisfied and lost in the movement A non Charismatic friend gave me John MacArthur’s book, Fools Gold. I read the book, and left the Charismatic movement. It changed my life. I am so grateful to John MacArthur, and his warnings and teachings. The Lord used him in my life to bring me out of the Charismatic movement, and into a healthy, evangelical, Reformed Church. Whilst I do not agree with all of MacArthur’s teachings, I have so much respect and admiration for his unswerving love of Biblical truth. If he helped me out of the Charismatic movement, I can only imagine how many others he has helped.

  5. Just want to make a brief comment.

    Never blindly follow a man only follow Christ.

    (oops, part of my comment failed to post)

    My reasons for saying this is over the last 33 years i’ve watched many of my fellow Christians become enamored with certain bible teachers, only to be suddenly, and terribly let down when the teacher begins to teach doctrinal aberrations. It happens, believe me. Any teacher, even excellent bible teachers can be wrong and, they can start to believe their own “hype”–as my granny use to say, they can “get too big for their breeches”. MacArthur has put himself “out there” as the ultimate discerner today, as to what is of God and what isn’t. My advice is only, be careful. Who he is is talking about in this conference is the Third Person of The Trinity. The Holy Spirit. I for one believe we must be careful in calling something of the devil. Which is exactly what MacArthur is doing where it concerns ALL manifestations and gifts of the Spirit.

    • Was reading the comments at the original blog where this article originated and someone posted a link to notes from J. I. Packer’s ‘critical interaction with the charismatic movement’ in 1984-1989

      It might be helpful to look at other critical analyses of the charismatic movement and compare the tone and evenhandedness to John MacArthur’s.

      The comparison is interesting. Read on…

      quote,

      I published a post a couple of weeks ago about John MacArthur and his upcoming Strange Fire conference. I expressed concern over the rhetorical and theatrical recklessness of the promotional video as well as Pastor MacArthur’s book Charismatic Chaos. The way that MacArthur argues leads one to believe that he sees absolutely nothing beneficial to the “charismatic movement.” In a follow-up post I quoted J. I. Packer from a 1984 book in which he critically interacts with the charismatic movement. Dr. Packer wrote another essay in which he continued to interact with the charismatic movement in an even-handed manner.

      In 1989 J. I. Packer wrote an article for Christianity Today (May 12, 1989) entitled “Piety on Fire” in which he analyzes the charismatic movement. Packer is a cessationist and he has his fair share of critical concerns about the charismatic movement but he also shows himself able to recognize positive elements in the movement. A few of Packer’s thoughts are below:

      Doctrinally, the renewal is in the mainstream of historic evangelical orthodoxy on the Trinity, the Incarnation, the objectivity of Christ’s atonement and the historicity of his resurrection, the need of regeneration by the Holy Spirit, personal fellowship with the Father and the Son as central to the life of faith, and the divine truth of the Bible. There is nothing eccentric about its basic teaching. (p. 20)

      Compare the following from Packer with John MacArthur’s wholesale dismissal of the charismatic movement:

      But even if the charismatic movement has no more to give to the church than it has given already, it is surely strange that it should ever be dismissed as not “from God”–that is, as manifesting throughout something other than God’s grace, so that every element of it should be explained as merely human or actually demonic. Yet that verdict has on occasion been voiced. How should we respond?

      Our first comment must be that such thinking is largely emotional and irrational. The human mind has an unhappy tendency to jump from specifics we dislike to blanket condemnation of the larger reality of which the specifics are part. Someone misbehaves once, so we tag him as a no-good forever. We think a store cheated us over one purchase, so we resolve never to shop there again. Our car gives trouble, so we henceforth refuse all cars of that make. So, too, if charismatic phenomena offend our sense of social, liturgical, or theological propriety, and charismatic individual embarrass us and make us feel threatened, we are very apt to respond by abusing the whole movement and denying that there is anything of God in it all. But how silly! And how nasty! This is a reaction of wounded pride and willful prejudice, and as such is bad thinking in every way.

      Our second comment must be that by biblical standards the negative verdict is impossible. This can be seen from an argument classically set out by Jonathan Edwards in the aftermath of the much-criticized Great Awakening, of which he became the prime defender.

      In The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God, Edwards reasons as follows: Any movement that

      (1) exalts Jesus Christ as Son of God and Savior, leading people to honor him as such;
      (2) opposes Satan’s kingdom by weaning people from sin and worldliness;
      (3) teaches people to revere and trust the Bible as the Word of God;
      (4) makes people feel the urgency of eternal issues and the depth of their own lostness without Christ; and
      (5) stirs up in people new love of Christ and of others, must be a divine work at its heart, whatever disfigurements may appear on its surface, since these are effects that Satan and fallen humankind have no wish to induce, and in fact try to avoid.

      But the Great Awakening had these distinguishing marks; therefore, it was a work of God.

      That the charismatic renewal has had the same fivefold effect is beyond dispute; therefore, it too must be adjudged a work of God. No doubt human folly breaks surface in it, as happens in all movements involving human excitement; no doubt Satan, whose nature and purpose is always to spoil any good God produces, keeps pace with God in it, engineering lunatic fanaticism within it ranks as he did in the Great Awakening. But to diagnose human and satanic disfigurements of this contemporary work of God is altogether different from seeing it as intrinsically the fruit of psychological freakiness or satanic malice. (p. 21–emphasis added)

      Packer ends his article with these words:

      The charismatic renewal has brought millions of Christians, including many clergy, to a deeper, more exuberant faith in Christ than they had before. It has quickened thousands of congregations, invigorating their worship, making love and fellowship blossom among them, increasing their expectancy and enterprise, and giving stimulus to their evangelism. Charismatic insistence on openness to God has transformed countless lives that previously were not open to him. Is this from God? The question answers itself. (p. 23)

      Again, Packer shows himself to be a responsible critic of the charismatic movement in a manner that eludes John MacArthur.

  6. I am a retired pastor of a charismatic church who spent the first forty-five years in a conservative evangelical Baptist church. There I learned, and later retained in my ministry, the centrality of the Word of God as the final arbiter of doctrinal truth.

    Around 1986 a recently born-again member of my congregation handed me Dr John MacArthur’s book on the charismatic movement (I don’t recall its title) asking me to read his chapter on ‘tongues’. I had never heard of Dr MacArthur before then, but what I read shocked me. His view then, and perhaps still today for all I know, was that Paul’s treatment of the gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians 14 was to classify tongues as ‘gibberish’. I asked my young member, as I ask some the contributors here, to read through the whole of chapter 14 out loud, and whenever she found the word ‘tongues’ to replace it with the word ‘gibberish’. There she found that among other things Paul thanked God that he spoke in gibberish more than any of them. She and I quickly concluded that Dr MacArthur’s ability as a biblical exegete was seriously lacking. After that, perhaps unfairly, I never felt the need to read anything else that the Dr had written.

    For a more comprehensive critique of Dr MacArthur’s method, I would point to Rich Nathan’s response to ‘Charismatic Chaos’, available as a pdf doc online.

    For the record, I too have serious concerns about excesses and errors evident in many celebrity charismatic/Pentecostals, but they are by no means representative of the movement as a whole.

    Interestingly, when I read the full article cited above I found one comment pointing out that Dr MacArthur is related to General Douglas MacArthur, supreme commander of allied forces in the Far-East during WW2. As it happens, I have recently finished reading William Manchester’s biography of the general, ‘America’s Caesar’. A fascinating story about a genuine American hero and a brilliant commander. However, one trait (a weakness) that stands out is that General MacArthur always believed that his judgments were always right and that no-one else, military or political, really understood the situation, leading him to act frequently on his own authority. President Truman eventually had to remove him from office rather than risk the possibility of a war with China over North Korea.

    Can’t help wondering if there is some sort of family trait in evidence. Forgive me if I’m wrong.

    • Gordon, thank you for your comment.

      It sounds as though you and i had a somewhat similar experience concerning MacArthur’s teachings, books etc. Though i haven’t read the book you mentioned i have read articles he has written in which he has basically stated the same thing–

      “…Paul’s treatment of the gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians 14 was to classify tongues as ‘gibberish’”

      His interpretation of what Paul was saying, is sadly what is gibberish.

      I was able to locate Rich Nathan’s response to “Charismatic Chaos”–I’m looking forward to reading it.

      See, Position Paper #5 – April 1993: A response to Charismatic Chaos, the book written by John F. Macarthur, Jr. – by Rich Nathan.

    • Quote from Gordon’s comment:
      “I had never heard of Dr MacArthur before then, but what I read shocked me. His view then, and perhaps still today for all I know, was that Paul’s treatment of the gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians 14 was to classify tongues as ‘gibberish’.”

      Gordon, this is just typical of the kind of wild comments I have heard about MacArthur since he “dared” to call a conference to discuss concerns about this movement. MacArthur has spent many years, actually decades, studying the writings of Paul, including all the parts where Paul is actually giving guidelines to his disciples for the practice of speaking in tongues. So your position on MacArthur is that he thinks Paul was giving instructions to his disciples for the practicing of “gibberish?”

      To make this blanket statement on MacArthur’s view of Paul’s “treatment” of tongues reflects very poorly on the charismatic movement which you are apparently trying to defend, and adds further to my conviction that a conference like this is indeed sorely needed.

      Gordon, kindly give us the page number in “Charismatic Chaos” where MacArthur makes this unqualified statement on Paul’s work and writings so that we can reference this comment.

      JD Ellis

    • While waiting for Gordon to respond these may have some relevance JD

      Grace to You: The Truth About Tongues, Part 2

      A Response to John McArthur’s Teaching on Tongues

  7. Excellent paper Gordon.

    I was particularly interested in Carl Henry’s 1957 critique of fundamentalism which the author concluded with–comparing it to his thoughts on MacArthur’s book…especially the sections quoted below,

    In 1957 Carl Henry, the Editor of Christianity Today magazine wrote a critique of fundamentalism that accurately summarizes my own critique of the central problem with John MacArthur’s Charismatic Chaos. Henry wrote:

    “The real bankruptcy of fundamentalism has resulted not so much from a reactionary spirit —— lamentable as this was —— as from a harsh temperament, a spirit of lovelessness and strife contributed by much of its leadership in the recent past. One of the ironies of contemporary church history is that the more fundamentalists stress separation from apostasy as a theme in their churches, the more a spirit of lovelessness seems to prevail. The theological conflict with liberalism deteriorated into an attack upon organizations and personalities.

    This character of fundamentalism as a temperament and not primarily fundamentalism as a theology, has brought the movement into contemporary discredit… Historically, fundamentalism was a theological position; only gradually did the movement come to signify a mood and disposition as well. In its early [years] leadership reflected ballast, and less of bombast and battle… If modernism stands discredited as a perversion of the scriptural theology, certainly fundamentalism in this contemporary expression stands discredited as a perversion of the Biblical spirit.”

    Amen, Amen. Today, in 2013, the evidence of this statement being absolutely true is astounding.

    • Hi P.J. Please be aware that the paper you have linked to by Rich Nathan, A response To Charismatic Chaos, is a production of Vineyard Churches South Africa. Yes, these are the same people with the same doctrine that came out of the Vineyard Movement of John Wimber, a.k.a.. the “Toronto Blessing” In my view, and the view of many whom both you and I frequently fellowship with on the internet, the whole Vineyard movement was extremely heretical.

      JD Ellis

    • I have very mixed feelings about the Vineyard movement. I recall being concerned when first hearing that my niece in Florida had began attending a new Vineyard church in Leesburg Florida–this was 20 yrs ago. It had started-up as an “off-shoot” of the local Wildwood Fl. AOG church which she attended all her life. I remember writing her of my concerns, etc etc. (the leader had been the youth leader at the AOG). Over the last 20 years (she’s now married with 2 girls and teaches school in Leesburg) i found my concerns were unwarranted. When vacationing at my parent’s home there every year i had occasion to attend quite a few of the weekly “house-meetings” held at my niece and nephew’s home and was deeply moved to see how these young couples (not so young now, aha!)came together weekly in love to study God’s word, pray together for each other and the lost, plan ways in which to impact their communities with the Gospel, and fellowship. I can honestly say i was blessed every time i was able to attend one of these home-gatherings. All of these scattered home-groups meet at least twice a month in Leesburg at the “church” (believe its called the warehouse, for it IS a warehouse, aha!).

      What i learned was that not all Vineyard associated “churches” or groups, around the country (and world?) operate in a set pattern. Unlike denominational churches they are free to serve God as they believe they are led to, in their area.

      So you see i only have this one “church” to go by or make a judgment concerning.

      As far as Rich Nathan’s response, i thought it was very valid–especially since i’ve now watch more of the video promos for the conference and have read transcripts of what was said by some of the speakers. MacArthur in particular–his opening message.

      You can find the link to it (and another critique of the conference) posted here at Pathos.

    • I finally watched at least one of the videos put out advertising this conference…and frankly, it makes me sick.

      What i hear in this ad is “Naked, Bold, Prideful Elitism.”

      And an attitude that some individuals, in this instance the speaker, believes he and “his fellow speakers” at this conference, are a select group of people “smarter” “wiser” and more knowledgeable about God, His Word, and His Spirit, then the rest of us peons in the body of Christ. And who (also) believes anyone who disagrees with “his point of view” concerning all things biblical and/or spiritual does not value the Word of God (as “he” does) and is dumb, ignorant, or worse yet, a heretic.

  8. We have extreme this and extreme that. Somewhere around the “and” is where the truth lies.

    • Amen Steve…i agree. We should never allow the extremists to stand as examples of the “norm” or who we are.

    • Yes, Steve. I’m all for avoiding extremes. But to every “ism” within the body of Christianity, there is a doctrine or theology which sets them apart, or stands as a distinctive. Like Calvinism versus Arminianism, for example.

      In this controversy over the Strange Fire conference, I am seeing many who are protesting in a way which would suggest that there is no doctrinal distinctive as a whole about the charismatic movement. It is suggested that this movement is just a wide, very general body of believers who range the gamut from moderate to extreme in their views, and that the only thing unique about them is a devotion to what the Holy Spirit is “doing” in their lives on the physical plane. Attempts to hold up what this movement believes to examination are stymied by those who jump in and say “no, you’re just referring to the extremists in our group, that’s not mainstream charismatic you’re talking about.”

      I believe there are clear doctrinal distinctives concerning the charismatic movement as a whole, which does allow us to test the spirits of this movement. I don’t believe the charismatic movement will be immune to legitimate scriptural testing, nor do I think it would be healthy if any movement within Christianity was allowed such immunity.

      I believe, for example, that this movement puts less emphasis on the authority of scripture as compared to non-charismatic, if it even holds to Sola Scriptura at all, and puts much more emphasis on the experiential and emotional aspects of a Christian’s life.

      Another thing I believe is that the charismatic movement holds as doctrine that there is a “second movement” or numerous movements, of the Holy Spirit in believer’s lives, over and above the initiation of the regenerating work which starts when we are born again and continues as we enter into the sanctifying work that continues throughout our lives as believers. I do not believe this “second work” of the Holy Spirit is to be found anywhere in the Bible.

      Likewise, I do not believe that it is biblical that we are given to gather together to summon the Holy Spirit to heal, provide prophetic messages to us, or perform any of the wondrous acts which were seen in the time of the Apostles. This is not at all to say, in the manner in which charismatics invariably misrepresent non-charismatics, that I do not believe God CAN and DOES perform miracles today. I do believe he does. But it is simply to say that it is not done through human agency nor by the process of human attempts to summon up the power of the Spirit and hope that he dutifully responds. Miracles today are performed through the will of God only, and sometimes this is an answer to prayer. I would think its more biblical to stay at home and pray directly to God for healing than to go to a meeting that gives the enticement of strong hints that healing will occur there tonight.

      If any of the readers are truly seeking to further understand the true work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer today as laid out in scripture, I highly recommend a book entitled A Theology of the Holy Spirit by Frederick Dale Bruner.

      Blessings and thanks to you P.J. for the time and effort spent in your ministry. I have learned much from your blog.

      JD Ellis

  9. “…Paul’s treatment of the gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians 14 was to classify tongues as ‘gibberish’”

    This is actually what Dr. MacArthur has to say

    Now, you will remember that there is a true gift of languages. When God gave gifts to the early church, He gave them some miraculous gifts which were designed to be signs to authenticate the validity of the message of the new age. You see, God had spoken in the past to the fathers by the prophets, but in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. There was a new message, so to let the world know (particularly the Jewish world) that this was a new era and that there was new revelation and God was speaking again, there were attendant signs and wonders. One of those signs was the ability that the apostles, and some who worked with them, had to speak a language they did not know, under divine inspiration. That was the gift of languages or tongues.

    We learned also that the gift of tongues was the ability to speak a foreign language. In Acts 2, it says everyone understood in their own language. Incidentally, the only time that the gift is ever even mentioned after the book of Acts is in Corinth, and there, because it was so confused and chaotic. But as we come to the Corinthian situation, we find that they had counterfeited the real gift of tongues and substituted a pagan, ecstatic kind of speech. The true gift had been confused with ecstatic tongues, which was the counterfeit.

    Such ecstasies and ecstatic speech is very common in pagan religion. I want you to understand that. This is a very common thing in pagan religion.

    If you study the Greco-Roman world in the time of the Corinthian church, you would know that they had various priest and priestesses. People who were devotees of the gods would go to these great temples and worship these priests and priestesses. It was very common for a devotee to go into an ecstasy, which literally means ‘to go out of oneself.’ They would literally flip out and go into an unconscious state where all kinds of psychic phenomena would occur. They believed that when they went out of themselves, they literally left their body, ascended into space, connected to whatever deity they were worshiping, and would begin to commune with that deity. Once they began to commune with that deity, they would begin to speak the language of the gods. This was a very common practice in their culture.

    The term used in I Corinthians to refer to speaking in tongues (glossaislalein) was not invented by Bible writers. It was a term used commonly in the Greco-Roman culture to speak of pagan ecstasy, going out of the body, connecting with the deity and, in a mystical way, beginning to speak the language of the gods, which came out as some gobbledygook and gibberish.

    The Greeks even had a word for this ecstatic religious experience, and you’ll be interested to know what it was. It was the word eros. Remember that word? We sometimes translate it as sensual love, but the word erosis a bigger word than that; it has a broader meaning. It means ‘the desire for the sensual, or ‘the desire for the erotic,’ or ‘the desire for ecstasy,’ or ‘the desire for the ultimate experience or feeling.’ The kind of religion they had was an erotic, sensual, ecstatic religion, designed to be felt. In fact, you’ll remember if you studied those religions, that when people went to those temples and visited those priestesses to worship, they would actually enter into orgies.

    So the whole idea of erotic, sexual, sensual, ecstatic, and gibberish that went on with divine utterances – all was rolled into one big ball under the mystery religions, which had been spawned in Babylon, had come into the Corinthian society.

  10. Hi JD

    Perhaps you should read my comment again. You will see that I said I did not recall the title of the book as I had read his comments on tongues back circa1986. Therefore, I cannot point you to chapter in Charismatic Chaos since I’ve not read that one. My understanding is that CC is a later book though I concede I could be wrong about that. If his views have changed since 1986 I would welcome that.

    However, I do have a very clear recollection that his point was that Paul was writing to rebuke the church for allowing people to speak gibberish (tongues) in their meetings. Yes he actually used that word. My problem with that is that the word translated tongues (glossa) in 1 Cor 14:2 is the same word Paul uses for his own use of the gift of tongues in verse 18, so he is not writing to correct false tongues but rather to correct the abuse of a genuine gift of the Spirit (Do remember in chapter 1 he writes that the Corinthians were not lacking ‘in any spiritual gift’), tongues being the one gift that the believer can use at any time, unlike, say, a word of knowledge which one can only have if the Spirit gives it at a specific time and circumstance. . In fact Paul says that anyone speaking in tongues utters mysteries to God, not gibberish.The logic is, that if we grant Dr MacArthur’s interpretation, as I understood it, then we have to apply it wherever we find glossa in the same chapter, which makes a nonsense of the whole chapter and, as I see it, completely destroys his own argument. BTW the same word is used in Acts 2 and Acts 10 when those who heard Peter at Cornelius house were filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues (glossa). I am sure Dr MacArthur has indeed spent many years studying the Word of God but so have many other scholars, Kenneth Bailey for one, and have come to different conclusions on the point at issue. I am not attacking his person, but stand by my view that on this point that MacArthur’s conclusion was not due to good exegesis but rather eisegesis, or introducing his own pre-suppositions. If you read through all the available comments on the relevant blogs you will find I am not the only one who has picked up that point from his material.

    I am not entirely sure what it is you then go on to accuse me of defending and, since you don’t know me, you may just be firing off some grapeshot in the hope of hitting something🙂. I do not believe that tongues is the evidence that a person is baptised in the Holy Spirit, nor that everyone who is baptised in the Spirit must or will speak in tongues. I do agree there are abuses in the charismatic churches and indeed we can find abuse in churches of all denominations. I am certainly opposed to the health, wealth and prosperity teachers who exploit gullible people for their own gain, or to manifestations such as roaring like lions or cock-a-doodling like chickens, but it is a big mistake to lump all charismatics and Pentecostals with that nonsense. However, as far as the gifts of the Holy Spirit are concerned, as defined in 1 Corinthians 12, I make no apology for maintaining that their proper use in the church of today is perfectly valid and consistent with scripture, e.g., Peter’s declaration on the day of Pentecost that the gift of the Holy Spirit, as manifest on that day, is promised to his hearers, ‘their children and for all who are afar off – for all whom the Lord your God will call’.

    If I may make one further observation, regarding your comment in another post about John Wimbur and the Toronto Vineyard. Perhaps you are unaware that Wimbur wrote to John Arnott and gave him an ultimatum. Either they put a stop to the controversial, unbiblical, manifestations or they would have to leave the Vineyard movement. They left and renamed themselves Toronto Airport Fellowship.

    Regards,

    Gordon

    • I didn’t accuse you of anything, Gordon, except misquoting MacArthur. You have admitted you do not remember where you read that he said Paul’s treatment of tongues was to classify them as gibberish. That was my point: that you make what I consider a wild claim about the man, and upon investigation, you not only cannot support that claim by your own admission, but that claim is shown to be false by reader James Kirchner’s research reported above.

      His research, and mine, have shown that what MacArthur has said in the past about tongues is exemplified by statements like the following:

      Quote::
      “Now, you will remember that there is a true gift of languages. When God gave gifts to the early church, He gave them some miraculous gifts which were designed to be signs to authenticate the validity of the message of the new age.”

      It was clearly the misuse of tongues that Paul, and MacArthur in his commentaries on Paul, deemed as gibberish.

      As to the contention by P.J. that MacArthur is not being attacked, can you explain why you felt it necessary to speculate on a comment which claimed a relation to General
      MacArthur by adding the comment:

      “President Truman eventually had to remove him from office rather than risk the possibility of a war with China over North Korea. Can’t help wondering if there is some sort of family trait in evidence.”

      Yes, I don’t know you Gordon, and if I have misrepresented you in any way my apologies. In an internet comment column, one can only go by what the others have written. Meeting face to face is not a frequent thing here. You distinctly gave me the impression you were denouncing MacArthur in a way which went beyond problems with his theology.

      About John Wimber, I don’t believe that any true discernment site is going to endorse any of the things he taught in his lifetime. Just go to any discernment site, such as deceptioninthechurch.com or apostasywatch.com, and put his name in the search engine, and you will be flooded with information about him.

      Best regards,
      JD Ellis

  11. Hmmmm! I am a bit hesitant to embrace a strongly held opinion of a man with no equals or can demonstrate he’s a man covered by men and qualified by them that he as they are walking in the anointing of the Spirit of Grace and Truth. I ask “what’s wrong” with these Words of the Prophet Jeremiah or from the Psalms??:

    Thus says the Lord : “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:5-10 ESV)

    And

    The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds. (Psalm 33:10-15 ESV)

    These next verses from Psalm 33 clinch it for me that we are our worse enemy and if not reeled in humbly walking out and working out our own salvation in fear and trembling our outlook is going to cloud our judgments about the sins of others:

    The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you. (Psalm 33:16-22 ESV)

  12. I am gratified to see that I am not the only one who thinks that we need to refocus from attacking the John MacArthurs of the Christian world and put the spotlight on the real monsters of the faith like Pat Robertson and the whole “God told me to tell you” crackpots.

    I’ve always felt, throughout my life, that it is better to be taught by a stern, dour, humorless teacher, and be told the truth and be put right on the right track, than have a charming, equivocating, spineless leader and be led to my execution.

    I know there are many who feel MacArthur’s doctrine is wrong, but I have yet to see convincing arguments that he strays from biblical truths. All I see are these clearly meritless accusations, such as the one by Gordon above, that he claims “Paul’s treatment of the gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians 14 was to classify tongues as ‘gibberish’”, a patently false claim.

    The Christian Post has hit the target dead on with this article. Please give it a read for some balance to the “MacArthur as Monster” characterization that has sprung up all over the internet.

    http://www.christianpost.com/news/in-defense-of-john-macarthur-strange-fire-conference-and-the-challenge-to-charismatic-movt-107056/

    JD Ellis

    • JD, i have seen more disappointment voiced concerning MacArthur then personal attacking.

      Speaking for myself i just don’t have confidence in him as a Christian leader anymore–and that occurred before this conference.

      As far as this recent conference his lumping together of all pentecostals and charismatics is a shame. For they are not all the same…also his claim that one of the problems is that no pentecostals (or charismatics) call out those who are extremists and go beyond scripture into the “wild and crazy” is just dead wrong. I, at this little simple blog is an example of one who has spent years and 100’s of posts calling out the “nuts” and crazies within the church. And im only one of thousands who do this on a regular basis. You’ve visited here for awhile and know this is true. MacArthur totally discounts all those who believe the gifts of the Spirit are still in operation today who have posted and written many books on the extremists, calling them out by name, and are still today, calling them out and issuing warnings about them and their unbiblical practices.

      MacArthur didn’t start doing this during this conference, he’s been doing it for some time, and its wrong…he is wrong.

      As i said, i personally just have no confidence in the man as a Christian voice to the Church any more.

    • “MacArthur totally discounts all those who believe the gifts of the Spirit are still in operation today who have posted and written many books on the extremists, calling them out by name, and are still today, calling them out and issuing warnings about them and their unbiblical practices. ”

      I used to listen to him frequently. I began to see him as divisive because of his stance on issues. One evening he lit into anyone and everyone who isn’t Calvinist. I saw then that he wasn’t interested in anything but his own beliefs, and that he is not able to consider that he might be wrong. There’s a difference on standing on your beliefs and standing on the throat of anyone who isn’t you.

    • There’s a difference on standing on your beliefs and standing on the throat of anyone who isn’t you.

      Well said!

      And by the way, if leaders from inside Pentecostal organizations like the Assemblies of God, Church of God, etc. decided to hold a similar conference trashing all Calvinists by claiming THEY were all theologically unbiblical, doctrinally ignorant, and that those who call themselves Calvinists are “made-up largely of non-Christians” i would hang my head in shame while falling on my knees to ask mercy be bestowed upon them for their words.

    • Thanks JD…i thought it was the same link i’d posted in an earlier comment…i see it’s the first part while i posted the link to the second part of the message

  13. I said before, “Somewhere around the “and” is where the truth lies.” I was in the charismatic (Vineyard) thing for a short, and in fact I’ve been all over the spectrum of pentecostal, cessation and charismatic churches. After being taught both sides of the coin I realized they may both be wrong. I can find no evidence in scripture that any gift has ceased, but then I also cannot find any evidence of tongues being anything other than an earthly human languages. So on one hand Mr MacArthur might be right and on the other he might be wrong. Same goes for the Charismatic and Pentecostal view.

    Often we only read or study what confirms what we we’ve been taught or what we want to believe. We really should put all of our past teaching out of our mind, pray and dig in the Word with no commentaries or opinions to hinder the truth, in our search for truth.

    The truth is, much of what we believe comes from the Reformers who were incredibly biased and influenced by sources far outside of scripture. We need to question everything, using only scripture as the plumb line.

    • The comments about Stoicism and Calvin are quite silly and have no foundation, though, granted, Calvin’s theology is Augustine’s theology, which is Paul’s theology, which is Christ’s theology, at least when it comes to the doctrines of grace. Mind you, Augustine’s position wasn’t stoicism either when it came to salvation by grace alone. In fact, when Augustine asserted that it is impossible for anyone to believe unless it is given to them by the Father, and denied salvation by works, it wasn’t even the position he always held, but was one he came to after long and patient study of the holy scripture. It had nothing to do with the stoics, and to claim that betrays an immense ignorance with Augustine’s own claims on the matter. Well, Augustine was rather strict when it came to holiness standards, denying the self, and perhaps that is what you claim is Stoicism. But it has nothing to do with Calvin, unless you think that the high standards of the Reformers is Stoicism too. In which case, you might as well make everyone a stoic then who believes that faith must show its existence by works (though we are not justified by our works).

      In fact, your statement about them being “outside” the scripture is quite silly when you actually take a moment to read Augustine, or Calvin, or Knox, or any one of those people. Certainly they made use of other sources, in the way I might quite John Gill to make an argument, but their arguments were utterly scriptural, based on the authority of the word of God.

      Here’s an example:

      “And, moreover, who will be so foolish and blasphemous as to say that God cannot change the evil wills of men, whichever, whenever, and wheresoever He chooses, and direct them to what is good? But when He does this He does it of mercy; when He does it not, it is of justice that He does it not for “He has mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardens.” And when the apostle said this, he was illustrating the grace of God, in connection with which he had just spoken of the twins in the womb of Rebecca, who “being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calls, it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.” And in reference to this matter he quotes another prophetic testimony: “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” But perceiving how what he had said might affect those who could not penetrate by their understanding the depth of this grace: “What shall we say then?” he says: “Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.” For it seems unjust that, in the absence of any merit or demerit, from good or evil works, God should love the one and hate the other. Now, if the apostle had wished us to understand that there were future good works of the one, and evil works of the other, which of course God foreknew, he would never have said, not of works, but, of future works, and in that way would have solved the difficulty, or rather there would then have been no difficulty to solve. As it is, however, after answering, God forbid; that is, God forbid that there should be unrighteousness with God; he goes on to prove that there is no unrighteousness in God’s doing this, and says: “For He says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” “ (Augustine, The Enchiridion on Faith, Hope and Love, Chapter 98. Predestination to Eternal Life is Wholly of God’s Free Grace.)

      Do you see Augustine citing some unnamed church tradition? No. All his arguments on this matter draw constantly from the holy scripture, and you will not find him give any appeal to any other source in any of his anti-Pelagian/Semi-Pelagian works. Do you think that Augustine was just repeating a long held interpretation of those verses? Nay, he was making enemies saying these things, who often accused HIM of not following tradition. That is why anyone who reads Augustine too closely has tended to get on the bad side of Rome. Luther, an Augustinian monk, was not the first of such to get persecuted for reading Augustine and getting a taste of what actual Biblical exegesis looked like. Mind you, nobody is perfect in their theology. But that doesn’t mean that Protestants, in general, and Augustine, or Cyril of Jerusalem, didn’t base their opinions solely on the authority of scripture.

      “Have thou ever in your mind this seal, which for the present has been lightly touched in my discourse, by way of summary, but shall be stated, should the Lord permit, to the best of my power with the proof from the Scriptures. For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell you these things, give not absolute credence, unless thou receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning , but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures.” (Cyril of Jerusalem, Cat. Lecture 4, Ch. 17)

      As for the snide little comments about Calvin being a murderer. This is the kind of argument I expect to hear from people who take folks like Dave Hunt seriously, who, because he cannot win the debate against what actual Reformed theology looks like, think’s he can discredit Calvin by connecting him with Augustine, so that maybe people will be stupid enough to think that Calvinism is just another name for Roman Catholicism.

      Servetus denied the Trinity and spread his false doctrines widely. In those days, that kind of thing was a criminal offense for which you die for. The Catholics already had Servetus convicted and wanted him handed over. The leadership in Geneva charged them himself, however, and burned him at the stake. Though, in Calvin’s defense, he had asked that he be beheaded instead, but was denied. He also did his best to reform Servetus as well. For a man of the 16th century, that’s SOMETHING, you know.

  14. Quote from above comment:

    …..”much of what we believe comes from the Reformers who were incredibly biased and influenced by sources far outside of scripture.”

    Ummmm, yeah. OK. So with a few keystrokes, you think you have successfully discredited the Reformation. Lets see, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Martin Luther, John Knox, Charles Spurgeon, Thomas Watson, John Owen, Jonathon Edwards, A.W. Pink, the Puritans, none of them had a clue, right? They were just picking their theology out of the air, I guess.

    Name one of the original Reformers who was “incredibly biased” and influenced by sources FAR outside scripture, and please be specific in how he got his theology outside of scripture.

    If it wasn’t for God’s grace in bringing the Reformation, many of us here today would likely be worshipping statues of Mary, and bowing to the infallibility of the Pope’s decrees. It is thanks to great Reformers like William Tyndale that the Bible was translated into English, which was against the law before the Reformation.

    I think I’ll value the lessons in church history a little bit higher that your own personal experiences in church attendance, with all due respect Steve.

    • I’ve never understood the Reformer’s idea concerning infant baptism. Its not anything i would ever divide over but it has puzzled me as where they find it in the scriptures. And what does it mean? That the baby is saved…born again? If so, how can this be if one must be called and accept salvation through belief in Jesus Christ.

      Aha…forgive me for butting into your ongoing conversation but it just came to mind when reading your question.

      Plus i’ll admit, im trying to toss a small amount of water on what appears to becoming a heated argument.

    • This won’t become a heated argument at all because this will be all I have to say. First when I said “reformers” I was speaking in general terms and did not mean to indict every person in the reformation era.

      If we don’t think it was incredible bias that drove Calvin to incite his companions to murder then we’ve missed something.

      Also, I’ll point out that I did not attempt to discredit anything, in fact the fact that they stood up to Rome as they did is admirable. But any fair minded person knows the reformers (not all) were reacting to the abuses of the Roman church and often overreacted. They didn’t even agree with each other and attacked one another publicly, because their personal bias was so strong.

      Calvin was heavily influenced by the Stoics and by Augustine who was also influenced by them. We see doctrines coming from them that were never discussed by the Apostolic fathers, doctrine that resembles Stoicism more than anything the Apostolic fathers wrote about.

      With all due respect, and I do mean that, I won’t regard those who took part in the murders of Christians (without repentance) as viable sources of Christian doctrine. Jesus said that we know who his followers are by the way they love one another. That is the standard I’ll use on the reformers as individuals, before embracing their beliefs.

      Having said that I’ll leave this conversation. God Bless.

      BTW PJ babies are safe, they’ve no need for baptism because they have no sin to be forgiven of.

    • This won’t become a heated argument at all because this will be all I have to say. First when I said “reformers” I was speaking in general terms and did not mean to indict every person in the reformation era.

      Thanks.

      I try to be aware that out of the hundreds of hits the blog gets on any given day that a certain percentage (though im sure its very small) may be “searchers”—those who do not know Christ and who the Holy Spirit may at this time, be “drawing” to Christ. Those few…even if it’s only one a day or one a week, i hope will see that even when Christians disagree it is done in love and with a continuing respect for each other and each other’s views.

  15. Yes, I think “heated” might characterize my reaction when I see someone throw out unchallenged the clear suggestion that the entire Reformation can be just set aside with the opinion that the Reformers didn’t get their theology from Scripture. You’d better take down that Spurgeon daily commentary in your right side column, P.J., if Reformed theology speaks FAR OUTSIDE of Scripture, as Steven bluntly put it.

    As for infant baptism, I am Reformed Baptist, and I disagree with it, and most of the writers I follow, both past and present, from John Gill to James White, speak against it for the reason you mention, that an infant cannot have saving faith. There are some reformed that are for it, but I don’t know if this is a majority or a minority position within Reformed theology.

    • Thanks for sorta answering my question on infant baptism…as much as i love to read R.C. Sproul’s messages and have benefited much from them (and still do) the entire infant baptism thing always puzzled me.

      You’d better take down that Spurgeon daily commentary in your right side column, P….

      Aha, believe i’ll keep it right where it is🙂

      I’ve always viewed Spurgeon differently i suppose, then many others do. I don’t ‘see’ him as anything but a truly great humble man and preacher of God–one without a “tag” before or after his name who cared deeply for the lost and the Church.

      Just recently i read a wonderful list concerning Spurgeon:

      32 Things You Might Not Know About Charles Spurgeon

      I especially loved the last item on the list.

  16. Reply to stevepage ‘s comment:

    ………..”when I said “reformers” I was speaking in general terms and did not mean to indict every person in the reformation era.”

    Really, Steve? The term “reformers” is pretty clear. They were (and are) a very distinct group. They are the ones who adhere to the doctrines of grace. There were then, and are now, no “other” reformers you could possibly have been referring to.

    ………..”If we don’t think it was incredible bias that drove Calvin to incite his companions to murder then we’ve missed something.”

    Really, Steve? The old “Calvin was a murderer” story? You want to talk about bias, well there you have bias. Salvationbygrace.org gives an ample refutation of this biased story that still has legs only because people want so much to discredit reformed theology.
    This article includes a great 7 point summary by theologian J.I. Packer that should have put to rest this story long ago.

    http://www.salvationbygrace.org/uc/sub/qaprint.aspx?qa=113&local=11a

    Let me close by quoting the first part of the article:

    ” It’s a claim that is leveled by those who seek to besmirch Reformed Theology. Usually, the claim that Calvin was a murderer is an attempt to make all Calvinistic doctrine wrong through “guilt by association.”

    “However, historically speaking, the so-called “Doctrines of Grace” – which go by the nickname of Calvinism – did not originate with Calvin. They are the result of a Synod held in Dort, Holland in 1618/19, after Calvin was long dead. Those of us who hold to Reformed Theology do so not because we are attempting to replicate the theology or ecclesiology of John Calvin, but because we are convinced that the Biblical arguments and conclusions stemming from that Synod are valid and our own exegesis confirms the five points.”

    “If it could be proven that John Calvin was indeed a murderous wretch, it would have no effect on the theology that sprung from the pen of the Reformers. In other words, the “guilt by association” tactic has no teeth.”

    JD Ellis

    • JD, the problem with this type of back and forth, (you quote Packer, someone else quotes another respected theologian in defense of their belief) it gets us no where.

      Better we agree that no one has it all correct, for no one does, and instead of defending Calvin or any other long-gone bible teacher or theologian, we just defend the Gospel.

  17. I just think it is something that needs challenging, when someone just plops down these HUGE insinuations, like Calvin was a murderer, therefore reformed theology is tainted, and the reformers get their theology from far outside scripture. How do we just let that go down without speaking out?

    Nobody here except me had any problems with jumping all over MacArthur for misrepresenting Charismatics, but it seems like now in the post Strange Fire days, its going to be open hunting season on Reformed Theology, and anything goes, in order to respect the opinions of others. The truth is, these are not opinions, they are attacks. They are only called opinions when its someone going up against the doctrines of grace.

    JD

    • JD, as i ‘think’ i said under a different post, i believe most of the comments i’ve seen here at my blog concerning the recent conference, expressed sadness and (granted) some shock at many of MacArthur’s comments said during the conference. Not personal attacks. Even items (i read) posted at other blogs and websites by those who disagree with him started out by expressing their gratitude for his yrs of faithful service for the sake of truth and the gospel. Yes, many have been terribly disappointed in the contents of this conference…and in my opinion, rightly so! But personal attacks? I’ve not seen that at all. Disputing his personal opinions concerning doctrine are not personal attacks. To be perfectly fair i read more attacking coming from MacArthur toward ALL those outside the realms of reformed theology. Some of the things he said, to be blunt, come across as though he believes only he and his fellow comrades own the truth–that they are the carriers-forth of the only “pure stream” of the gospel today, and JD, that is just not true.

      As far as Calvin, he’s long gone and really, are we followers of him or followers of Jesus Christ? That was the point i was trying to make in my last comment; let us defend, follow Christ, and hold dear to the Gospel, not man. There are many fine (and not so fine) men of God today and from the past. I’m not going to spend my time defending the one’s still living, their fruit speaks for itself, and the one’s long gone? Well, they’ve finished their race (well or badly) and have/will receive their rewards, so why debate their lives and deeds while they were alive? Its time wasted.

  18. In the last post, I said people were jumping all over MacArthur, not attacking, and I think that’s not a wild, out of bounds accusation at all. “Jumping all over” is an expression which means vehemently opposed, because obviously there were not literally jumping on the man. Just reread the comments here.

    Again, as with Steve, you want to lump anyone who strongly believes in the doctrines of grace as a defender of the man John Calvin, and this is nothing new, I hear it all the time. The only thing I was defending against was clearly the attempts that were made by Steve and the others I hear from constantly on my blog, to judge Reformed theology according to their views of Calvin’s life. As I stated, this “guilt by association” is not a defensible tactic, and paints us all with a broad brush, just what MacArthur was guilty of doing to Charismatics. Please reread what I posted:

    “Those of us who hold to Reformed Theology do so not because we are attempting to replicate the theology or ecclesiology of John Calvin, but because we are convinced that the Biblical arguments and conclusions stemming from that Synod (Dort) are valid and our own exegesis confirms the five points.”

    If saying that a long standing group of Biblical Christians who call themselves Reformed get their theology from sources far outside of Scripture is just and fair, then how does that differ from MacArthur saying that Charismatics get their theology from far outside the Bible? Yes, Steve tried to qualify by saying he didn’t mean all reformed, but how did that clear the air? Did he mention any “rogue” reformers who were clearly “fringe elements”? As I pointed out, there is not a wide range of biblical beliefs among reformed, just a scant few concerning minor issues such as infant baptism.

    JD

  19. Having read through the majority of the replies here, it would appear that the fixation with following “men” is alive and well.To be honest, I do not subscribe to Charismatic and Pentecostal theology, but neither would I give John Macarthur any time either.And why?, MacArthur through his dispensational leanings preaches another gospel, as does Pentecostalism, but all this is a moot point unless the scripture is engaged and studied, and the truth therein revealed by the Holy Spirit. If the bible teaches that believers will have imparted to them spiritual gifts , then why is this hard to accept?, perhaps the real issue here is the way in which we understand the meaning of , and the way in which these gifts will manifest themselves.Take prophecy for example , in many instances it has become nothing more than christianised fortune telling, but if we look back at prophecy in the OT , the prophets warned Gods people of their sin, the consequences of staying in their sin , and the Messiah who would come and save them from their sin.And why would the gift of prophecy be any different today ? its not different , the OT testament prophets prophesied to the coming of Christ, NT prophets testify that Christ has come, and Paul says as much in 1 Cor 14:3

    But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation , and comfort.

    Not a word here about the ridiculous and shameful way so called “prophets” of today manipulate and distort and “profit” from their vile rantings . I say lets forget about the MacArthurs, Spurgeons , Bosch’s et all , and get back to serious study and debate around the
    bible.

  20. This will be the last comment under this post.

    Those who feel they must defend John Calvin, go forth and do so. But not here…not anymore.

    This topic was opened to discuss the recent Strange Fire Conference and the comments made DURING this conference (and within the book being released) by John MacArthur. Not to defend Reformed theology, nor to (good grief!) “defend” John Calvin.

    I’m not a Calvinist, nor a MacArthurite, or a “Boschite”. nor any other “ite”. Men can be wrong, and sometimes (hopefully more often then not) right. I’ve made it pretty clear that i believe John MacArthur was waaaaay off base (wrong) on many of the accusations he made during this conference. A few of you disagree. So here we are.

    I’m allowing God to have the last word…

    And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. – Acts 5: 38-38

    God bless and thanks for your comments…

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