by Dr. Michael Brown
As I write these words, the Holy Spirit is moving mightily around the earth, saving lost sinners, bringing rebels to repentance, healing sick bodies, setting captives free, and above all, glorifying the name of Jesus. According to Pastor John MacArthur, however, this is actually "a farce and a scam."
In his new book Strange Fire, he claims that this work of the 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."
Yes, Pastor MacArthur has branded the charismatic movement a "false church" and is calling for an all-out war against it.
For a man of his stature, a man who has done so much good for the Body of Christ, this is a tragic error, a decided step in the wrong direction, and a rejection of both the testimony of the written Word and the work of the Spirit today.
For the last several months, I have requested a face-to-face meeting with Pastor MacArthur to discuss our differences, but that request has been denied (either by him or by his team). Tomorrow, October 16th, he will begin a three-day "Strange Fire," preparing the way for the release of his book next month. (I received an advanced review copy from the publisher; all quotes here are from the Introduction and should be checked against the final text of the book.)
In this book, Pastor MacArthur argues that, "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."
In fact, he claims that leaders of the movement are "Satan's false teachers, marching to the beat of their own illicit desires, gladly propagate his errors. They are spiritual swindlers, con men, crooks, and charlatans."
This is divisive and destructive language based on misinformation and exaggeration, as Pastor MacArthur attributes the extreme errors of a tiny minority to countless hundreds of thousands of godly leaders worldwide.
I have worked side by side with some of these fine men and women myself, precious saints who have risked their lives for the name of Jesus, giving themselves sacrificially to touch a hurting and dying world with the gospel, literally shedding their blood rather than compromising their testimonies, yet an internationally recognized pastor calls many of them "Satan's false teachers . . . spiritual swindlers, con men, crooks, and charlatans."
May the Lord forgive him for these rash words.
He claims that, "As a movement, they have persistently ignored the truth about the Holy Spirit and with reckless license set up an idol spirit in the house of God, blaspheming the third member of the Trinity in His own name."
So, Pastor MacArthur, in writing, and obviously with much forethought, is accusing hundreds of millions of believers of blaspheming the Spirit, thereby pronouncing them to be sinners damned to hell, since blasphemy of the Spirit is an unforgivable sin (see Mark 3:29).
Words fail to express how grievous this is.
He claims that, "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," going as far as to say that, "charismatic theology has made no contribution to true biblical theology or interpretation; rather, it represents a deviant mutation of truth."
SOURCE: The Christian Post
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a professor at a number of seminaries. He is the author of 22 books and hosts the nationally syndicated, daily talk radio show, the Line of Fire. Follow him atAskDrBrown on Facebookor @drmichaellbrownon Twitter.