I Don’t Care; I Still Like John MacArthur

Plenty has been written about Johnny Mac’s Strange Fire Conference from every angle imaginable. I don’t have much to say about it that others haven’t said. Do I agree with MacArthur’s stance on the Charismatic Movement? Clearly not! I’m a Pentecostal and I’m not afraid to admit it. I spoke in tongues this morning, last night, and just about every day that came before in the past 11 years. As I type this I’m observing a coworker who has an injured neck/shoulder and I’m waiting for him to give me the okay to pray for divine healing (he’s tried everything else and none of it’s working).

So now that my card carrying charismatic status has been established, I have to say that I’m not all that bothered by the conference. The fact is that MacArthur has believed this stuff for as long as I can remember. He’s preached about it at length and some of those sermons were turned into a book called Charismatic Chaos. So the fact that he’s having a conference to talk about the things he’s been talking about for years isn’t really comment worthy. Also, the amped up rhetoric, while unfortunate and demonstrably wrong, isn’t all that different from what he’s been saying for years.

So why all the outrage over it now? Because it’s gotten more press than ever; that’s why. But I’m used to it; I’m neither shocked nor dismayed. And in spite of MacArthur’s feelings and belief about those of my ilk, I still appreciate MacArthur’s ministry. I still appreciate his preaching style. I still appreciate his reverence for the word of God. Now I clearly disagree with his interpretation of certain portions of scripture but I have no doubt that he believes his exegesis is sound. But the reason I still like MacArthur is that he really believes that the folks he’s talking about (and I honestly think that he has the TBN variety Word of Faithers in mind more than the run of the mill charismatics or classical Pentecostals and I believe he could do better to clear this up) are harmful to the faith. And based on this belief he’s doing what he can to arm his people to combat the enemy. I’m sorry, but that’s an admirable intention even if the presupposition on which it’s founded is ultimately misguided.

Now there’s plenty I don’t like as well. I wish that MacArthur was more willing to sit down with those who disagree with him (like Michael Brown). I wish that he didn’t lump all charismatics together and paint with such broad brushes (the Word of Faith is a relatively small faction within the Charismatic Movement). I wish that he’d spend a little more time interacting with Charismatic exegesis and less time focusing on their alleged experience driven lifestyles, but there’s room for everyone to improve. And to be honest, I haven’t lost hope. There was a time when MacArthur didn’t believe in the eternal generation of the Son and he revised that belief because he was convinced of it through his study of the Scripture. If he could see his error and change once then he can do it again, so let’s keep Johnny Mac in prayer.



4 thoughts on “I Don’t Care; I Still Like John MacArthur

  1. Nick-

    I’m surprised too. MacArthur has been writing and preaching on this longer than we’ve been alive! And even in Charasmatic Chaos, if memory serves me correctly, he does deal with both the loonies and the exegetically responsible (such as Fee). MacArthur is not a dummy and I think he knows exactly what he’s doing.

    So yes, he probably could be more careful in his critiques, lest he accuses DA Carson of working for the devil or something! At the end of the day, MacArthur is just another conservative cessationist writing against Pentecostalism. And I say all this as a “soft” cessationist :-)

  2. Nick –

    I think the one thing that makes it “interesting” (or problematic) about the whole thing is that his Charismatic Chaos came out some 20 or more years ago. But so, so, so very much has happened since then. Even by 1992-1993 when the book was published, so much had happened that was noteworthy, positive and solid. And now, 2 decades later, with so much more positive, noteworthy and solid scholarship available in our realm of influence, it’s time to launch another book and conference with the kind of sweeping comments (and poor exegesis and theological teaching) that dismiss a 500+ million strong movement. What basically seems the tenor of what he’s already said and has been saying.

    It seems the equivalent of someone in 1985 saying that egalitarianism has been the major problem in the church and is quite anti-biblical at it’s core……and then in 2013 to launch a conference and another book that says basically the same thing noted 2+ decades before. We’ve taken some steps forward to recognize, though some might disagree with egalitarian thought, that it isn’t inherently “anti-biblical” and evil. There is some strong positive, noteworthy and solid scholarship in that realm.

    I suppose there are other examples. But a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

  3. You don’t need the Holy Spirit for neck pain, you need a massage therapist! Like moi.

    Holy Spirit be taking food outta my mouth.

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