Posts Tagged ‘Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit’
British blogger Adrian Warnock has written an excellent reply to the Strange Fire Conference and John MacArthur. You can find the article here.
My thoughts are the conference are:
- Grateful that the conference has caused people to once again study the person and work of the Holy Spirit. So often we easily understand the Father and we understand the Son but we have a tough time understanding the Holy Spirit. We tend to think of Him in terms such as “ghost” who flies around doing things for God. We need to teach biblical His person and His work among us.
- While I didn’t like John MacArthur’s words toward charismatics, most of the speakers were gracious and seemed to just want to teach on the Holy Spirit while addressing the other issues at they went. The tone was good overall and I appreciate the acknowledgement some gave toward charismatics being Christians.
- Had the conference been named with an emphasis on the biblical doctrine of the Spirit, most charismatics (including myself) would have just written it off as another conference on the Spirit. But the emphasis upon the charismatics made it a conference that took cheap shots at the movement such as making TBN and TV preachers as the spokespeople for the movement or by saying that nothing good comes out of the movement. I have no problem with cessationists wanting to address the Holy Spirit and give their reasons why the disagree with charismatics but do so with grace and love and not with anger or by claiming that all charismatics are blaspheming the Spirit.
- My favorite part was the story that came out about Mark Driscoll and James MacDonald crashing the party by coming to the conference and offering free books in the parking lot. Various reports have said that GCC asked Driscoll to leave while some say that they were nice toward him. I do find it ironic that on the Internet, non-charismatic Reformed guys were pounding charismatic Reformed guys over the issue, trying to make Driscoll look evil (especially since he is opposed to JM over the issue of cessationism). While sad, it shows me how divided even the Reformed believers are. We are so far from unity (John 17:22-23; Ephesians 4:1-6).
- I would love to see the charismatic movement counter this with a conference on the Holy Spirit. I would love to see men such as Wayne Grudem, Jack Deere, Adrian Warnock, John Piper, and Michael Brown all coming together to teach on why they believe the Spirit continues to give us the revelatory or sign gifts. Make sure a book is coming out near the conference too!
- Phil Johnson has agreed to appear on Dr. Michael Brown’s podcast, The Line of Fire. I plan on listening and I pray that Dr. Brown and Mr. Johnson can show how to truly talk about these issues. We can disagree but do so with a spirit of grace and love all while accepting each other as brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. God doesn’t save charismatics or Arminians or Calvinists. He only saves sinners (Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 1:15).
- Finally, I hope a day will come when we can talk about our differences over the gifts of the Spirit without trying to use quotes from Kenneth Copeland to prove the charismatic position wrong (or any other Word-Faith teachers). Let us wrestle with Scripture instead of propping up various teachers (who are mere flesh) as the example of why or why not you believe in cessationism. Why does every debate over spiritual gifts have to turn into using TBN as a reason why you reject certain gifts? Why not instead turn to Scripture?
Dr. John MacArthur is not stranger to theological debates. I first heard of Dr. MacArthur when I was a young believer over the issue of Lordship salvation. At that time his book, The Gospel According to Jesus, was influencing many people to preach against “easy believeism” and was causing a stir. His other books that have hit a nerve in terms of debates have been, Charismatic Chaos and Ashamed of the Gospel. I read the book, Charismatic Chaos, while being fully involved with a Pentecostal church. I thought the book was a book that Pentecostals and Charismatics needed to read and interact with. I hoped the book would promote a new look especially into the faulty theology of the Word- Faith movement.
Now Dr. MacArthur is taking up the charismatic movement again with his new book, Strange Fire. I have not read the book but do plan to and will offer a review in time. This week Dr. MacArthur is hosting a conference at his church in Los Angeles called, The Strange Fire Conference, in which he plans to address the issues of the charismatic movement and teach correctly what the Bible says about the person and work of the Holy Spirit. I do hope to watch some of the conference online as time permits. I know that the conference will produce countless of other blog posts and articles on the charismatic issue. This is good in my estimation. We need a good biblical discussion about the Holy Spirit and His work.
Some have taken exception with the conference. Most notably has been Dr. Michael Brown. Dr. Brown has written several articles on the conference for Charisma Magazine. Dr. Brown believes that Dr. MacArthur needs to interact with serious charismatics like himself instead of attacking and lumping together all charismatics to the likes of Todd Bentley or Benny Hinn. Dr. Brown also questions Dr. MacArthur’s use of “blasphemy of the Spirit” in relation to the charismatic movement and he believes that this is dangerous, to say that charismatics are blaspheming the Spirit since this would imply that they are not saved and never can be (Matthew 12:32). Who can make such a claim about a person other than God?
I stand in-between on this debate. In fact, I rarely address the spiritual gifts issue here because it is not my theological passion. I would not even label myself as a charismatic but as a partial cessasionist (as I believe that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God and the final authority for all things). That said, I agree with Dr. MacArthur that there are excesses in the charismatic movement. However, not all Pentecostals or Charismatics can be lumped together. I don’t think it is fair to lump all charismatics in with the Word-Faith movement. They are not one and the same. I know of many godly Pentecostal men and women who truly love Jesus, love the gospel, preach the truth of the gospel, long for souls to be saved, are educated, love the Word, and are seeking to be holy. I myself was saved in a Pentecostal church and currently attend a Pentecostal church where you would not find excesses nor would you find people chasing their feelings about the Scriptures. I don’t know of any perfect Pentecostals so perhaps if you talked to someone long enough you might find something you disagree with but you would not find wacky, shaking, longing for subjective experience people in our midst that I am aware of. Further, I have known many Pentecostals over the years and none of them have elevated their own experiences above the Word of God. I have met some weird people but I don’t see that coming from their Pentecostal theology as much as just being ignorant of God’s Word period. And to be honest, I have met weird people from all walks of life and from different religions. Pentecostals are not unique in that regard.
I also agree with Dr. Brown that there are many godly men and women around the world serving Jesus and preaching His gospel while disagreeing with Dr. MacArthur over his view of the gifts of the Spirit. MacArthur would acknowledge this as well. I know of one brother who is laboring in Southeast Asia for the kingdom. He is preaching the gospel, discipling the saints of God, and he loves the Word of God. Yet he is charismatic. Is he blaspheming the Spirit? I don’t think so. Why lump him with the likes of a John Crowder? I do appreciate the fact that Dr. MacArthur has stated that he does believe many Pentecostals and charismatics do love Jesus and do preach the gospel yet he believes that the movement, as a whole, is off base.
I do believe that we need to know the truth of the Holy Spirit. His work is vital to the Church and to the growth of the disciple of Jesus. I do believe that all movements need correction from time to time. It is possible to lose focus from the Lord Jesus and begin to focus on the gifts of the Spirit above the gospel of the kingdom. I have seen churches lose focus from the gospel and embraced a social gospel instead of the gospel that sets sinners free by the grace of God. It is possible that some charismatics have glorified the Spirit above the Lord Jesus and this should not be since Jesus said the Spirit would glorify Him (John 15:26). I have seen Calvinists in love with Calvinism above Jesus or KJV only followers in love with the KJV above Jesus. It is easy to lose focus and become unbalanced.
I do welcome The Strange Fire Conference. I believe we need such a conference but I do pray that Dr. MacArthur would interact with godly men such as Dr. Michael Brown or other Pentecostal theologians. This would include him interacting with Reformed charismatics such as Wayne Grudem, John Piper, Matt Chandler, and many others. In reality, Dr. MacArthur is attacking a large part of the body of Christ whom he disagrees with but I also fear using Matthew 12:31-32 for all of these brethren. This is dangerous and I agree with Dr. Brown that we must careful when this assertion. I disagree with many aspects of Reformed theology but I would not dare label their worship as false or worse, as blasphemous to God.
One final note. I too have been troubled by the “revival” movements of the past including the Toronto Blessing and the Brownsville revival. I actually visited the Brownsville revival on three separate occasions. I walked away seeing some good and seeing some bad. While I rejoice that some people did repent, I have no doubt that there was much flesh that I witnessed. I also struggle with “charismatic” television such as TBN or the God Channel. I once visited the TBN station in Atlanta, GA and found it to be full of idolatry and the worship of flesh. I believe those in the Pentecostal and charismatic movement should speak out more against the false teachings and misleading statements that are made by popular charismatic preachers. How I wish that unknown heroes of the faith such as Terry Roberts, pastor of Trinity Assembly of God in Columbia, SC, would be the standard and not a Joel Osteen or a Kenneth Copeland. We need more faithful men of God who love the Word, preach the truth of God’s grace, and are full of the Holy Spirit instead of the likes of a Todd Bentley or a Paula White filling our homes with their teachings.
And those are my thoughts on that issue. I will say no more.
I encourage you to take time to listen to this teaching from Dr. John MacArthur on the subject of the modern blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. In this teaching, MacArthur exposes the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit in this age. He then takes the hearer quickly through the Word of God to show that the Holy Spirit is not mysterious, He is worthy of praise just as the Father and the Son are. I enjoyed his overview of the Holy Spirit and I appreciated his emphasis on teaching biblically about the Person and work of the Holy Spirit.
I pray, let us not blaspheme the beloved Holy Spirit who has sealed us unto the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14).