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John MacArthur, a well-known and theologically-conservative author and pastor of Grace Community Church in southern California, has been called one of the 25 most influential pastors of the past 25 years. Last week, at MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference, and in his forthcoming book by the same title, he took the charismatic movement head-on to publicly challenge its biblical and theological basis.
According to the Strange Fire Conference website, the broader church has been too silent for too long, ignoring the charismatic elephant in the sanctuary:
For the last hundred years, the charismatic movement has been offering a strange fire of sorts to the third Person of the Godhead—the Holy Spirit. And evangelical churches have chosen to be silent or indifferent on the matter. This hasn’t served the church or the Spirit of the church with honor.Strange Fire is a Truth Matters conference, sponsored by Grace to You, that wants to set forth what the Bible really says about the Holy Spirit, and how that squares with the charismatic movement.
In the conference they addressed (according to them) in a biblical, straightforward manner what many today see as a peripheral issue.
We do know that our view of the Holy Spirit influences your relationship with God, our personal holiness, and our commitment to the church and evangelism.when we would not believe in the Power of God we would be nothing.
Grace Community Church offers two, duplicate worship services on Sunday mornings (8:30 and 10:30 a.m.) each approximately 90 minutes long. During the service the visitors are given a visitor packet and an invitation to return to the Courtyard Center, where they can enjoy refreshments, learn more about Grace Church, and receive a free book from the pastor.
During each worship service, several adult fellowship groups meet across the campus. These groups emphasize fellowship and solid teaching as they seek to equip believers for Christian living on a practical level.
At the conference they gave the word to 10 speakers.
Of those speakers John MacArthur created nearly an earthquake in the charismatic and Pentecostal movement. As the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, and the Bible teacher with Grace to You he has written dozens of best-selling books, including The MacArthur Study Bible, The Gospel According to Jesus, and The MacArthur New Testament Commentary series. He is also the president of The Master’s College and Seminary.
MacArthur’s publicly challenged Charismatic beliefs and practices. The numbers, the popularity, the Christian television, and the money are in the hands of the Charismatic ministries so it could be called a dangerous action making that some people would react heavenly because they would have felt as stepped on their toes. Therefore this conference gets also the attention of the renewed sited "Stepping Toes".
Pastors are often the centre of attention whether the church is large or small. People look up at them. They consider them leaders to follow. When they are chosen to lead the church spiritually and function as God’s spokesperson to the flock, they are given a significant degree of authority. The success of the church is in part attributed to the skill of the senior minister.
Though when there is a great show man he can bring in a lot of visitors, not because he is telling Biblical truth but he can put up a nice show and entertain the people well.
The Pentecostals are very good in putting up shows, bringing services with interesting features, so called healings or miracles, nice musical entertainment with vivid songs and people clapping, singing and dancing, plus strange moments of people speaking in tongues.
Last weekend John MacArthur wanted to make clear why Charismatic beliefs and practices are harming the Church, despite their rampant spread. He wanted to show the public their errors ranging from oddities and novelties to outright heresies as defined by the early church counsels. All of these result – to a lesser or greater degree – in spiritual damage to churches and Christians.
Dispensationalist pastor John MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference this week, where polemics and mischaracterizations have held sway. the popularity of MacArthur may be found in the theology of preaching premillenial rapture for Christians who felt that God had betrayed them by taking their “property” away from them, losing their livelihoods and family members in the process. John MacArthur speaking at his megachurch does not mind to provide a defense for the enslavement of African Americans on American shores.
In his new book Strange Fire, the pastor claims that the work of the Holy Spirit actually represents “the explosive growth of a false church, as dangerous as any cult or heresy that has ever assaulted Christianity,” and he calls for a “collective war” against these alleged “pervasive abuses on the Spirit of God.”
Pastor MacArthur argues,
“The ‘Holy Spirit’ found in the vast majority of charismatic teaching and practice bears no resemblance to the true Spirit of God as revealed in Scripture,” even accusing the modern charismatic movement of “attributing the work of the devil to the Holy Spirit.”He even thinks that those who call the public to speak in tongues and get 'firy' with the Holy Spirit in them are called together by leaders of the movement which is from "Satan". The are:
"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.”You can imagine this saying went down the wrong way. It did not get down very well by his own movement and got criticised by other mega church leaders who also often call on the Spirit of blessings and material welfare .
“In recent history, no other movement has done more to damage the cause of the gospel, to distort the truth, and to smother the articulation of sound doctrine,”When he looks at the previous years and see what happened in the protestant Charismatic movement he finds that the
“charismatic theology has made no contribution to true biblical theology or interpretation; rather, it represents a deviant mutation of truth.”Pastor MacArthur points to some of the shameful, inexcusable scandals that have taken place among charismatic leaders.
He contends that the Charismatic movement is a culturally-bound, culturally-driven and seeker-driven church movement that depreciates and diminishes the glorious way the Holy Spirit worked in the foundation of the church.
"If the gifts practiced in today's Charismatic church are equivalent to those described in the New Testament, then those original gifts were nothing special,"he said, adding that it degrades the true gifts God gave to the first century church.
Pastor Steven J. Lawson, the senior pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama and the author of numerous books, including Pillars of Grace, Foundations of Grace, The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards, and The Expository Genius of John Calvin, claims the fundamental problem with charismatics is their lack of serious engagement with the Word.
While many in the church continue to abandon the Christian faith it does not mean that the continues growing Charismatic and Pentecostal churches are the true ones or the only ones which offer the church a legitimate growth mechanism.
In a world full of relativism, decadence, strife and apathy, John MacArthur, his followers and his contestants should focus on preaching the Word: Christ crucified, resurrected and coming back again.
You can find the article concerning the debate about this conference: Divisive pastors and Strange Fire conference
Find additional reading:
- John MacArthur Responds to Critics Who Believe His Strange Fire Conference Is Divisive, Unloving
- Mark Driscoll ‘Crashes’ John MacArthur’s Strange Fire Conference? (PHOTOS)Mark Driscoll ‘Crashes’ John MacArthur’s Strange Fire Conference? (Ppotos)
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