John MacArthur’s Strange Fire

I normally do not blog on timely topics, but this one is too important to pass up. Last week, Southern California pastor John MacArthur led the Strange Fire conference. MacArthur’s passion in hosting this conference was to call the evangelical church to publicly refute what he sees is the error of the Charismatic Movement.

There are a few things to say about this. First, John MacArthur is very influential in the church and he is not alone in his views. MacArthur’s radio ministry, Grace to You, is heard by thousands and thousands of Christians across the world on a daily basis. MacArthur, who stands in a rather curious mix of Reformed and Dispensationalist theology, is a master communicator known for his effectiveness in the skill of expository teaching from the Bible. MacArthur is also a cessationist, which means that he believes that the supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit, such as speaking in tongues, ceased to be active in the church at the end of the Apostolic age, the first generation of the early church.

Secondly, the Charismatic Movement that MacArthur is protesting against is perhaps one of the fastest, if not THE fastest, growing movements in the church worldwide. While the growth of Pentecostal and Charismatic churches is modest in the United States, it is a completely different story in places like South America and Asia. Literally millions of people are being exposed to different expressions of the Charismatic Movement. I know from personal experience how significant this is as I helped to lead the music ministry at a small Charismatic church for a brief period back in my college years.

Thirdly, positively speaking, many, many Christians have been extremely blessed by what they have experienced in Charismatic churches and grown spiritually by their teachings. On the other side, tragically as with other movements, there has also been a large number of other Christians who have experienced spiritual abuse, theological confusion and tremendous disappointment in Charismatic communities of faith.

Needless to say, not everyone is happy with John MacArthur’s blanket characterization of the movement as a whole (see Adrian Warnock here and here with Loren Sandford for CharismaNews). There is a good chance that people in conservative churches will be having “spirited” conversations about John MacArthur’s conference (and the new book associated with it) for some months to come. Despite the controversy, MacArthur is raising critically important issues for the church. Down the road, Veracity will tackle the phenomena of the charismata in future posts, but hopefully it will be done in a more irenic and less polarizing manner than what MacArthur has done with Strange Fire.

Coming Soon!

Facts & FaithPlease join the Veracity community at the Facts & Faith Symposium, to be held at the Williamsburg Community Chapel, on several Sundays in November, 2013 (the 10th, 17th and 24th) at 6:30pm.

About Clarke Morledge

Clarke Morledge -- Computer Network Engineer, College of William and Mary... I hiked the Mount of the Holy Cross, one of the famous Colorado Fourteeners, with some friends in July, 2012. My buddy, Mike Scott, snapped this photo of me on the summit. View all posts by Clarke Morledge

7 responses to “John MacArthur’s Strange Fire

  • John Paine

    I’ve been reading tons of inflamed posts on this topic this week. Great, … now we have even more ways to slice and dice the church (cessationists vs. continuationists, charismatics vs. evangelicals, young earth vs. old earth creationists, etc.). I feel like our island is getting smaller. Here’s a little video perspective on our differences.


  • dwwork

    Clark, thanks for the post and John thanks for the video. I enjoyed both. Unfortunately we spend way too much time debating our differences rather than celebrating what we have in common. We belonged to a church that split apart over spiritual gifts. The sad thing is it was not to practice the gifts or not but whether they had ceased or were still in effect. neither side wanted to practice the gifts. Too sad.


  • Freedomborn ... Aussie Christian Focus

    I hope John that you don’t mind detail but I would like to share on both sides of this message.

    I had never met my older half sister except as a young child but I did not know who she was or she me but through circumstances we did meet before she died, it was wonderful, she made me feel so wanted, her husband had with others started the Petecostal movement in New Zealand and was very well known there, he traveled to different churches.

    They took me to a Pentecostal service and there was a call for healing and anointing by the Spirit, promising greater blessings. It all sounded so wonderful and I went down the front and stood in a line watching others fall down, I waited my turn, but it didn’t happen, even when they gently pushed me I didn’t fall down. I was scared that my Sister and her husband would reject me, so I pretended and fell down, as no doubt others do but not all I’m very sure, as my friend and others have experienced healing this way. Sometimes the need to belong can cause us to respond in a fleshy way, but we remember that John fell backward as if dead in Revelation.

    I have experienced Miracles in my own life and witnessed them in others, even when after being deceived that I came from an Ape God saved my life 3 times and at least 2 times since after my heart repentance. He has also healed me of other conditions including one they suspect I was Born with and He has shown me signs and wonders. My Healings were well documented but not able to be explained and the signs and wonders were witnessed by others and none were able to be duplicated by man.

    They can call me and those who witnessed them liars, or mad but of course that’s what they claimed about Jesus even his family, why because of their unbelief, when people put God in a box of their own understanding, they choose themselves to limit His power and blessings in their lives. By the way I’m not Charismatic or Pentecostal, I belong to the Catholic Church of God which means Universal and is in our heart but not the Roman Catholic Church, it came later. To understand God’s Truth we need to ask for The Holy Spirit and God’s wisdom and believe we have received them and I do.

    Satan cannot do good, God is the only Healer, the counterfeit signs and wonders are tricks and illusions, lies and deception, even using natural forces making them with technology appear Majestic. The power Satan has and gives to his followers, is to destroy all goodness, when he comes as an Angel of light it is to deceive and deny God’s glory, offering a counter fit way of having power and position, such as those who reject the Godhead or The Trinity as They are called today why some are deceived some are false teachers or wolves. God is Love and can do no evil, which is the lack of Love, it is barren and dry of feelings and emotions except hate, bitterness and revenge.

    So how many gifts of the Spirit do they want to delete, we would have no Vessels, such as Healers, Teachers or Evangelists, those who Prophesy or who have the gift of mercy etc, we would have no tools that God uses such as Doctors or medicine or natural remedies etc. Paul said he wished everyone had the gift of tongues but this is not referring to different tongues, which shows the power of the Holy Spirit. God does not lie, contradict himself or not keep His promises and He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, what He began He will finish.

    Christian Love from us both – Anne


  • Clarke Morledge


    This is Clarke responding, the other Veracity blogger with John. The fact that you are able to tell “both sides” of the story, as it were, points to why the question of the operation of the supernatural giftings of the Holy Spirit is such a challenge in the church today. One side sees that God does indeed continue to work in miraculous ways, whereas the other side sees these claims as being deceptively foolish. Unfortunately, there is a tendency in different quarters of the church to emphasize the extremes. There is a tremendous need for spiritual discernment today.

    That is a wonderful thing that you experienced God’s healing, something to be exceedingly grateful for! Thank you for sharing.


  • Freedomborn ... Aussie Christian Focus

    Thank you Clarke for your kind words and yes my life has shown God’s hand of Love greatly but not because I deserved it but because of His never ending Compassion and Love. I hurt Him and others greatly but i know He has forgiven me and taken away my sins as far as the east is to the west and He chooses not to remember them. I can’t change the wrong I did but I can now choose to live in Love and Truth, which are really one thing.

    I never received your reply from WordPress Clark, do you know why?

    Blessings – Anne


    • Clarke Morledge

      I am not sure why WordPress did not send you the reply earlier. Anyway, thanks again for sharing on such a sensitive topic.


  • Freedomborn ... Aussie Christian Focus

    I never received your reply at all Clark, I found it when I was going to respond to your other Post on Noah. I’m wondering now how many others I have not received and why.

    Blessings – Anne


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