Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"Strange Fire" Conference

In this promotional video for the upcoming "Strange Fire" conference, Pastor John MacArthur warns about the "unacceptable" and "false worship" of the charismatic movement.  This is a movement that "blasphemes the Holy Spirit."  Notice the broad brush strokes that are used to implicate this group called the "charismatic movement."  Notice, also, the opening scene of the video with its bloody figurine being stoned to death!

Pastor MacArthur has not been known to be an accurate or careful critic of the charismatic movement in the past.  For example, his 1992 book Charismatic Chaos was woefully lacking in any serious engagement with responsible charismatic/Pentecostal scholarship.  Rich Nathan in his response to Charismatic Chaos notes the following points (as scattered throughout his review):
"This book, however, is particularly difficult to read for a number of reasons.  MacArthur has the unfortunate weakness of exaggerating his opponents' faults.  Not only is the bizarre and the quirky repeatedly emphasized, but MacArthur rarely acknowledges a mainstream view within the charismatic or Pentecostal movements that's balanced, Biblical, and mature.  MacArthur, moreover, rarely admits that the Pentecostal/charismatic movement--now over 400 million strong--has borne tremendous fruit for the kingdom of God.  He simply does not permit himself to acknowledge positive contributions by this enormous and varied movement."
"Throughout this entire book, MacArthur has chosen to exaggerate the weaknesses of the charismatic viewpoint by selecting examples of the worst or the weakest of charismatic proponents rather than the best."
"Perhaps the worst flaw in MacArthur's argumentative style is is tendency to label his opponents with excessively negative and perjorative adjectives."
"In other places in Charismatic Chaos, he accuses charismatics and Pentecostals of being immoral (p. 21); 'keen but clueless' (p 40); anti-intellectual (p. 40); not far removed from existentialism, humanism, paganism (p. 41); and, being 'perilously close to neo-baalism' (p. 43).  It is difficult to dialogue with somebody who is as abusive and caustic as MacArthur is in his attacks on charismatics.  He expresses surprise that charismatics become defensive when he simply 'speaks the truth in love' to them.  Perhaps if MacArthur stopped labeling and vilifying charismatics, they might find it easier to listen to him." 
Based on the video preview of the conference I fear that not much is going to be different with this upcoming critique.

NOTE: I have written a brief critique of Pastor MacArthur's handling of one issue in his Charismatic Chaos.  It is not an exhaustive critique but it does detail his logical and exegetical errors on one specific point.  See my post: Epaphroditus, Sickness, and Healing.


"Strange Fire" and Responsible Criticism

"Strange Fire" and Responsible Criticism (2)

John MacArthur on John Piper and Wayne Grudem Regarding Spiritual Gifts

"Strange Fire"--Michael Brown Responds (Twice!)


Evangelical and Charismatic: Affirming Both Word and Spirit

Charismatic Calvinist