Archive for October, 2013

Response to John MacArthur’s Strange Fire

October 21, 2013

At his recent “Strange Fire” conference John MacArthur closed with 8 statements for theological conservatives who do not believe that spiritual gifts ceased in the 1st century. As one of these pentecostal theological conservatives, I reply below.

Continuationists give legitimacy to the contemporary charismatic movement.

Indeed, the existence of theologically conservative Christians who hold to the continuation of spiritual gifts does point to the legitimacy of that view.

Continuationists degrade the miraculous nature of true gifts given by God to the 1st Century Church.

Hardly. A small modern miracle is still a miracle. It is nowhere written that God is currently limited to demonstrations of his power that are pre-recorded for us in the Bible.

Continuationists severely limit how people can be responsive to charismatic confusion.

This is partly true, but not all that is charismatic is confusion.  It would seem that MacArthur wants a blanket ban on charismatic expression. The question is, has God really stopped pouring out the gifts of the spirit?

Continuationists who insist that God gives special revelation today gives way to people being led by confusion and error.

The chief answer to this is that continuationists are channelled by past revelation of the God who does not change. Any word for today will not contradict God’s word in history. Refusing to accept a direct word from God today (prophecy) sounds very much like that person is dull of hearing.

Continuationists tacitly deny the reformed tenet of Sola Scriptura.

MacArthur is correct here. Put another way, continuationists expect God to speak in other ways than through the pages of the scripture. However, the wise Christian realizes that while every word of God is truth, not every word of man is the word of God. The bible is an arbiter of truth because it is the approved word of God, but God may speak in any way he chooses.

By all means the Christian must “test all things, clinging to the good, avoiding every kind of evil”. This is not achieved by putting a blanket ban on something that God does not.

Continuationists open the door to speaking in tongues which is the mindless ecstacy of the charismatic expression.

Tongues in the Bible were not just languages. “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.”

Continuationists assert the gift of healing and in turn affirm the fraudulent ministry of healers.

Is God unable to heal today? “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.”

Continuationists distract from the Holy Spirit’s true ministry by enticing people to buy into a false ministry.

The spirit gives gifts to all:

“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,  to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”

The Lord gives ministries as he wills:

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”