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From: "REVIVAL List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2013 22:29:18 +1300
by J. Lee Grady

Fundamentalist pastor John MacArthur is a gifted preacher, author
and lover of Scripture. His Grace to You radio program points
countless people to the Bible, and his Master's Seminary trains
hundreds of ministry leaders. He´s a staunch Calvinist, but that
doesn´t make him any less my brother in Christ.

Unfortunately, MacArthur can´t say the same about me-and
that´s sad. In his new book Strange Fire, he declares in no uncertain
terms that anyone who embraces any form of charismatic or
Pentecostal theology does not worship the true God.

My brother in Christ has written me off.

In John MacArthur´s rigid world, anybody who has sought prayer
for healing, claimed a miracle, received a prayer language, prophesied,
sensed God speaking to them, felt God´s presence in an emotional
way or fallen down on the floor after receiving prayer has already
stepped out of the bounds of orthodoxy.

MacArthur says charismatics think they worship God but that
actually we are worshipping a golden calf. "Every day millions of
charismatics offer praise to a patently false image of the  Holy
Spirit," MacArthur says early in the book. "No other movement
has done more damage to the cause of the gospel."

He doesn´t just write off fringe elements of our movement; he
skewers the original founders of Pentecostalism and even goes
after Baptist author Henry Blackaby for teaching that God can
speak to people today.

MacArthur, who is 74, urges evangelical Christians to engage in
a "collective war" to stop the spread of the charismatic movement,
which he describes as a "deadly virus," a "deviant mutation of the
truth" and a "Trojan horse" that has infiltrated mainstream
Christianity. MacArthur writes, "Charismatic theology has turned
the evangelical church into a cesspool of error and a breeding
ground for false teachers."

No one familiar with MacArthur is surprised by Strange Fire, since
it is really a rehashed version of his 1993 book Charismatic Chaos.
Unfortunately, some charismatics have given MacArthur plenty of
new ammunition to support his case that we are all a bunch of
sleazy con artists and spiritual bimbos. Our movement is new and
fraught with problems, so MacArthur doesn´t have to look hard to
find examples of troublesome doctrine. But instead of offering
fatherly correction, he pulls out his sword and hacks away.

I´m no five-point Calvinist, but I will make five points here in response
to MacArthur´s book:

1. Not all charismatics and Pentecostals have embraced errors or
excesses. To MacArthur´s credit, he quotes charismatic leaders
who have addressed legitimate abuses and errors in our movement.
But then he writes us off with a broad brush. Actually, the majority
of our movement is not in error, even though we all know of doctrines
and practices that need correction. There are millions of healthy
charismatic and Pentecostal churches around the world that are
winning the lost, launching missionary endeavors and helping the
poor. And charismatics and Pentecostals are fueling the global
growth of Christianity-even with our flaws.

2. We must leave room for the present-day power of God. MacArthur
believes God´s miracle-working power stopped around 100 A.D.
He says healing, tongues, prophecy, visions and other supernatural
manifestations described in the New Testament don´t work today.
MacArthur is particularly irked that charismatics emphasize
speaking in tongues (which he calls "gibberish"); he also complains
that we have a "perverse obsession with physical health" (in other
words, if you get sick, just accept it because God doesn´t heal
anymore). But the New Testament doesn´t tell us that heaven
flipped a switch and turned off the Spirit´s power. That is
MacArthur´s opinion, not a biblical doctrine.

3. The church needs a fresh emphasis on the Holy Spirit.
MacArthur says charismatics are guilty of an unhealthy focus
on the Holy Spirit. He claims that the Spirit points only to Jesus
and that we shouldn´t seek the Spirit´s power or presence because
He likes to stay in the background. My question: If that is true,
why did Jesus teach so much about the Holy Spirit? And why is
the Spirit´s powerful work so clearly highlighted in the book of
Acts and the epistles? It´s true that the Spirit wants all the credit
to go to Jesus, but we are making a huge mistake if we ignore
the Spirit or limit His power. The church today needs God´s power
like never before.

4. There is a difference between biblical correction and judgmentalism.
Anyone who reads this column knows I speak out regularly about
whacky practices in our movement-from prosperity doctrines to
necromancy to adulterous pastors who say God told them to divorce
one wife so they could marry another. I believe we must address
sin in the camp. But there is a difference between confronting
specific sins and condemning a whole movement to hell. John
MacArthur´s book has crossed that line.

5. We should love MacArthur anyway. Strange Fire lists numerous
ways charismatics are misusing or abusing the Holy Spirit, in
MacArthur´s view. But he forgets to mention that one of the
important works of the Holy Spirit is to unify and connect the
Christian community in deep fellowship. The New Testament
urges us to "preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace"
(Eph. 4:3, NASB), and we are also told that love is part of the
fruit of the Holy Spirit. But Strange Fire was not written out of a
heart of love.

Still, there is no need to retaliate against MacArthur. He is our
brother because we all believe in and worship the same Savior.
The best thing we can do in response to this extremely unkind
book is to love our brother in spite of his unfortunate bias against us.

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