You don’t need to wonder about what my views are about John MacArthur and particularly about his latest “Strange Fire Conference.” Suffice it to say that I think the name of his teaching ministry — “Grace to You” — is rather a misnomer.
I’ve been aware of MacArthur for forty years now, and frankly, have never found his approach to Scripture or Christian faith appealing or convincing. He has said things I’ve appreciated over the years, but we have fundamentally different understandings of so many matters that I’ve pretty much just moved on and tend to ignore him. However, he has been getting quite a bit of buzz around the web for this latest conference and so I thought I’d give you the opportunity to check him out for yourself. He is a strong voice in certain segments of the conservative evangelical world, and he is unafraid to call out even those closest to him when he thinks they are going astray.
Here are a couple of paragraphs by Tim Challies summarizing John MacArthur’s opening message at his “Strange Fire Conference,” in which he denounces charismatic Christianity:
The charismatic movement continually dishonors God in its false forms of worship. It dishonors the Father and Son, but most specifically, the Holy Spirit. Many things are attributed to the Holy Spirit that actually dishonor him. In many places in the charismatic movement they are attributing to the Holy Spirit works that have actually been generated by Satan. Again and again MacArthur stressed the great danger for those who worship God flippantly. It is a tragic and agonizing irony that those who claim to be most devoted to the Holy Spirit are following patterns that blaspheme his name.
He paused to state that he is not discrediting everyone in the movement. He knows there are charismatics who desire to worship God in a true way. Yet the movement itself has brought nothing that enriches true worship. It has made no contribution to biblical clarity, biblical interpretation or sound doctrine. The church had all of these things long before the charismatic movement happened. A Christian today can go back and read the apostles, the Reformers and the Puritans and find richness, understanding and clarity; the charismatics have not added anything but chaos, confusion, misrepresentation and misunderstanding. People have been saved in charismatic churches, but nothing coming from that movement has been the reason they were saved. Nothing within the movement has strengthened the gospel or preserved truth and sound doctrine. It has only produced distortion, confusion and error.
Challies is following the conference at his blog.
Mike Riccardi is also providing notes at his blog.
Adrian Warnock responds at his blog.
I have a friend who used to summarize John MacArthur in these words: “He ain’t neutral about nothin’.” If you want to hear JM at his most “non-neutral,” this will probably be the conference for you.
Then again, maybe this incident that took place in the House of Representatives last night proves that MacArthur has a point.