Sunday, July 28, 2013

Who Has Gone "Out of the Place that Christ Has Set Them In"?

I posted a response to comments made by Fred Butler on his blog.  I would like to re-post it on my blog with some additional comments.  Butler criticized Dr. Michael L. Brown's article in Charisma regarding John MacArthur's attack against the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement in his "Strange Fire Conference."

My main contention with MacArthur is his wholesale condemnation (and I don't believe that is too strong a word considering what was said) of the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement quoted in by Dr. Brown. 
“The charismatic movement is largely the reason the church is in the mess it is today. In virtually every area where church life is unbiblical, you can attribute it to the charismatic movement. In virtually every area—bad theology, superficial worship, ego, prosperity gospel, personality elevation. All of that comes out of the charismatic movement.”
This is mere opinion largely based on bias rather than evidence. I have read many places where it is said  the Pentecostal movement is the largest and fastest growing Christian movement in the world.
See the following:
As a matter of fact, a news radio in my locale, reporting the Pope’s visit to Brazil, stated that while the population professing Catholicism has gone far down, the Evangelicals, especially Pentecostals, have grown large and quick.

Also, it seems as if MacArthur is suggesting that Pentecostals sin more than Non-Pentecostal/Non-Charismatic? I’ve witnessed a good share of moral failures and apostasy in non-Charismatic circles to think his remark is not only unfair but without warrant.

There are buffoons in every corner of each Christian box that we make for ourselves, nevertheless, buffoons do not prove something to be scripturally wrong, at least, or demonic, at worst. Are we to conclude that the doctrine of eternal security is heretical because there are those who live in blatant sin while still persisting in their profession of Christian faith? Should we condemn the Baptist doctrine of election as demonic simply because the WBC embraces it?

I don’t think so.

The excesses that others commit are in and of themselves no proof that the gifts of the Spirit (as practiced in the Book of Acts and taught in some places in the NT) have ceased.  Jonathan Edwards conceded that what seemed to be excesses during the revivals of his time, were no proof that they were not a true work of the Spirit of God (equally as well as no proof they were).

Can it be imagined that if MacArthur were anywhere near the Upper Room when the Spirit was given, he would denounce this new movement as “charismatic chaos”.  For certain, it was chaotic enough for those who witnessed it to mock the disciples thinking they were drunk. Apparently, it was not only chaotic but laughable!

It sure seems like there was a lot of chaos when Peter and John healed a cripple; it’s not like the Bible is describing everyone walking respectfully, piously, and calmly in orderly fashion to see the sight of someone healed from being lame. And what about the guy who was healed? He must have looked clownish to those around watching him “walking and leaping and praising God” and doing it in the Temple!

And who could have imagined what pandemonium ensued as described when Paul healed a cripple in Lystra!

I have read Dr. Brown’s books and, although he may not have rebuked the shenanigans amongst the Pentecostal/Charismatic naming specific persons, he has criticized the excesses and sins in general terms.  For example, concerning “many of our churches”, he writes, “We are more Spirit-frilled than Spirit-filled.” Not far from that sentence, he writes further, “What a shame! We believe in our exaggerated reports. We have been duped by our fabulous words…Our American ‘signs, wonders, and miracles’ are hardly worthy of the name” (“Whatever Happened to the Power of God?” p.59-60).

For MacArthur, someone outside and antagonsitic to the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement, to say that “largely” or “virtually” everything that is wrong with the Church “all” comes out of the Charismatic movement may be overstepping the boundary of wise and constructive criticism if not being outright reckless speech and the errors in judgment Jesus warns us about making.  Maybe Dr. Brown was overly “critical of John MacArthur and his conference” (personally, I don't think so); but MacArthur may have gone beyond his own proper bounds as a minister of the Gospel criticizing the movements of the Holy Spirit by such wholesale denunciations.

I leave it to readers to judge for themselves which one is the more dangerously culpable.

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