It seems that John MacArthur has caused a bit of a stir with his latest attack on Pentecostals and Charismatics. A few blogs I follow have addressed his “Strange Fire” conference.
From what I’ve read, it seems like none of the arguments presented at the conference have their basis in scripture. Instead they point at the excesses of the charismatic movement and then use those as the basis to deny the continuing validity of Spiritual gifts.
The common argument is that Charismatics are focused on experience rather than scriptural truth – and yet, aren’t those anti-charismatics like MacArthur also basing their own beliefs on experience or more accurately a LACK of experience of Spiritual gifts instead of scripture?
In the almost 40 years since I became a Christian I’ve seen absolutely NO biblical evidence that God withdrew the Spiritual gifts given to the early church. In fact I believe scripture supports their ongoing importance.
This denial of Spiritual gifts isn’t something new from MacArthur. It is merely a return to an old obsession that he’s promoted for decades, but it’s an obsession that could have a significant cost. Not only does he deny the validity of spiritual gifts, but it seems from the reports that I’ve read that he believes the gifts* that ARE evident have a satanic origin. If that is true MacArthur is stepping on dangerous ground. It was similar accusations made against Jesus that led Jesus to warn of the dangers of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit; something HE said could not be forgiven.
* By this I’m not referring to spurious “gifts” such as the appearance of gold dust, gem stones and “angel” feathers, but to the biblically identified gifts such as tongues, prophecy, healing etc.