Please understand that the intended purpose of this site is not to attack John Macarthur, rather, it is a rebuke and a defense against another of his attacks against the Lord's Church.
Why? As you can see from the video above, Televangelist, John MacArthur, has unleashed another one of his vicious assaults against the Body of Christ. He is focusing again on one of his favorite targets, those evil, God forsaken, demon possessed charismatics. The Charismatics, also known as the Continuationists, believe that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are still available to all Believers, something MacArthur insists is no longer available to anyone. MacArthur and his ilk are known as Cessationists, meaning they believe that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit have “ceased.” Most Cessationists are also Calvinists, so for future reference we will refer to this group as MAC (MacArthur And Calvinists).
This particular topic has been around for ages and is a matter of conscience, rather than a matter of division. Theologian, A.W. Tozer once wrote, "It is important that we get this straight, for until doubts are removed, faith is impossible. God will not surprise a doubting heart with an effusion of the Holy Spirit, nor will He fill anyone who has doctrinal questions about the possibility of being filled." More from Tozer on this topic here: www.tozer.org
MAC would beg to differ. Like a big, mean high school bully, MAC uses his church and daily radio program, "Grace to You," as the ultimate bully pulpit to beat Believers over the head with his well-worn biblical baseball bat on this subject.
He brings new meaning to the term "friendly fire," as he attempts to mow down his brothers in Christ with his scriptural machine gun. On many topics MAC is well armed, but when it comes to the Holy Spirit, MAC has no ammo, so he just grabs his cap gun and shouts, "Bang, Bang, you're dead!"
John MacArthur's particular tact and brand of doctrinally infused hatred is becoming so popular that it's become known as "MacArthurism." It's main ingredients are self-centered "rightness" (sometimes referred to as being "Holier than Thou"), condemnation, fire and brimstone, mixed with a very healthy dose of arrogance.
If you think we are being overly critical, just watch the one minute video at the top of this page.
MAC throws the term "Grace" around like it's going out of style (pastors Grace Community Church / has radio program Grace to You) but rarely actually exhibits any. I'll be honest, this site isn't very gracious towards MAC either, but we didn't cast the first stone, and like most people, I have a big issue with bullies, especially spiritual bullies.
Sometimes you should just walk away, but other times you have to stand your ground and maybe even give them a dose of their own medicine. Some have said that this tact isn't very Christ-like, but I suggest you read Matthew 23 to see how Jesus dealt with the Pharisees, the spiritual bullies of His day.
You remember the Pharisees. Like MAC, they were the self-righteous legalists of their day. "Truth, truth, truth...it's all about TRUTH," and like MAC, in their mind, they had a corner on it.
Yes, Truth is supremely important, but Jesus said that Truth has a spouse, the Spirit. Jesus said that those that worship the Father must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. One without the other is worthless. Like a bolt without a nut, it's useless. The difference between MAC and the Pharisees is that MAC has less of both Truth and Spirit. At least when a sincere Pharisee, like Nicodemus, was confronted with spiritual truth, they repented and embraced the Spirit of the New Covenant. MAC is more like the doubters in Acts 2 shouting, "These men are drunk!"
The Corinthian church also had issues with misusing the Gifts of the Spirit and the Apostle Paul gently set them straight. He even commends them in I Cor 1:4-8, " I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ."
MAC, on the other hand, condemns them to hell and literally says they are "antichrist."
John MacArthur's "Strange Fire"
The real issue may be Calvinism vs. Arminianism. MAC is a Calvinist and Calvinists have "officially" hated Arminians since the Synod of Dort. At the 1618 Synod of Dort (Holland) the Dutch Calvinists published a condemnation of Arminius and his followers as “heretics.” (Arminians were excluded--sounds like a Strange Fire conference!) Arminians across Holland were removed from office, imprisoned, banished, and sworn to silence. The animosity created by this cowardly and vicious act still lingers to this day, demonstrated by MAC's (Calvinist) attack againsts the Charismatics (Arminian).
For more insight into the differences between these two schools of thought, see the pages above, entitled "Calvinism" and "Arminianism." But to summarize, the two groups actually share many similar beliefs on topics such as the Deity of Christ, the tri-unity of the Godhead and other critical issues. Where they differ, though, they are as far as the East is from the West. Other than the issue of the Gifts of the Spirit, their two main points of disagreement center around the Sovereignty of God. The Calvinist says that God is 100% sovereign, 100% of the time. The Arminian says that God is 100% sovereign, 100% of the time, except... when it comes to your salvation.
The Calvinist believes that God picks who gets saved and the one being saved has literally nothing to do with it. They also teach that God predestines others to Hell. Even if they want to be a believer, their Calvinist version of God won't allow it.
The Arminian, on the other hand, believes that we are saved by Grace through Faith and that God gives every man a measure of faith and a free will. It is up to the individual to decide what to do with that gift of faith. Some will personally accept Christ as their Savior, others will reject Him, but it will be their decision. God neither forces them to accept Him or reject Him.
The other issue where they disagree is Unconditional Eternal Security. Since the Calvinist thinks that God picks only winners, they couldn't possibly ever lose their salvation. The Arminian believes Ephesians 2:8, that we are saved "by Grace through Faith" (God's Gift coupled with our response), but if either is removed, the salvation is invalidated. God's Grace is immutable, eternal, immeasurable and unwavering...your faith is not. We do not need to worry about God's Grace, but if we extract our faith from the equation the results are equally disastrous. If GRACE + FAITH = SALVATION, then GRACE - FAITH = DAMNATION.
The Calvinist tend to misrepresent (or misunderstand) the Arminian perspective in two areas:
1) How we GET saved.
2) How we STAY saved.
The Calvinists teach that no one in the history of the world was ever truly saved and then stopped believing. The Arminian disagrees based on the parable of the Sower and hundreds of other verses, but because of that belief, the Calvinist tends to insinuate that the Arminian believes in a salvation of works (being saved by your "good deeds"). In reality, the Arminian believes that you are saved by Grace through Faith and if you believe, then you are saved. Your good deeds are done out of gratitude for the Gift of Salvation, not to "earn" it.
The Calvinist also tends to insinuate that the Arminian believes that he can lose his salvation at the drop of the hat. In reality, it is hard to lose your salvation, but the Scriptures clearly teach that it is possible. The issue is actually quite simple:
How we GET saved
If you believe and confess that Jesus is Lord (Romans 8:9), then God gives you the GIFT of Salvation.
How we STAY saved
You stay saved by continuing that belief until death. If you once believed and confessed that Jesus is Lord, but you no longer believe that, then you have returned the GIFT for a refund, and you no longer possess the GIFT.
For a more extensive look at this topic, click on the page above entitled, "Eternal Security."
Another potential motivation for MAC's renewed attacks could be envy. The Calvinists (Prebyterians, Lutherans, Baptists, etc.) are seeing their membership numbers dwindle, as the Arminians (Assemblies of God, Calvary Chapels, Independent Charismatic, etc.) are seeing steady and significant growth. The Calvinists claim their opponents growth is because the Charismatics are watering down the Gospel, while the Charismatics say their growth is due to their acceptance of the Move of the Holy Spirit. Calvinists see the Charismatic church services as being too emotional, and the Charismatics see the Calvinists services as being too legalistic and formal (i.e. dead).
Multi-millionaire MAC has made tons of cash denying the present day ministry of the Holy Spirit ("The Charismatics," "Charismatic Chaos"). But in his newest money-making venture “Strange Fire” (book, tapes, videos and more) he says that charismatics are not just “wrong,” but insists that they have instigated "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 "pervasive abuses on the Spirit of God."
I get the eerie feeling that if we asked MAC, "Who died and left you in charge?" that he would say, "Jesus!" (and mean it).
One of the speakers at MAC's "Strange Fire Conference," Tom Pennington, had this to say about some charismatics:
"To the false teachers who along with their Charismatic practices deny the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith, the biblical Jesus, the biblical gospel, do not be afraid to say with Jesus when you make a proselyte, you turn him into twice the child of hell that you are. Don’t be afraid to use the language of Jude and 2 Peter. Don’t be afraid to say with Paul that they teach another gospel and if they don’t renounce that false gospel, let them be anathema, let them be damned."
MAC goes as far as to claim, "Much of the movement is actually antichrist."
The person that coined the term "antichrist" was the Apostle John, and he used the term four times in First and Second John. Each time, he defined the term: "For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist." So the Apostle John clearly defines an "antichrist" as someone who denies that Jesus came in the flesh. Even if you take the flakiest of the flakes in the Charismatic Movement, those on the farthest outer edge (Benny Hinn, Copeland, Hagin) none of them remotely qualify as an "antichrist."
What a horrifically slanderous false accusation! What could be the source of such blatant misrepresentation? Jesus said in John 8:44, "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." The Enemy loves lies!
Imagine MAC's outrage if we claimed, "Much of the Calvinist movement is actually antichrist."
The Apostle Paul admonished us in Galatians 6:1, "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any fault, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness." I don't think calling a brother an "antichrist" qualifies for "gentleness."
The Apostle John warned us about people like MAC in III John 1:9-10, " I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church."
The problem is that MAC throws the baby out with the bathwater by clumping all Charismatics together. In MAC's mind, the Oneness Pentecostals are no different than the Calvary Chapels or Assemblies of God. To speak of Kenneth Hagin, Rodney Howard-Browne or Benny Hinn in the same context as Greg Laurie, John Piper, D.A. Carson, Wayne Grudem or Chuck Smith would be outright deception. The problem is MAC does not delineate between the legitimate manifestations of the Gifts of the Spirit (faith, wisdom, miracles...etc.) from the abuses, such as being slain in the Spirit, barking like dogs and faked healings.
MAC claims that he would not have had to come in to clean our backyard if we would have been willing to do it ourselves. The insinuation is quite clear: All who embrace the Gifts of the Spirit are cut from the same cloth. If that's the case, then we should expect the Oneness Pentecostals to keep the Jehovah's Witnesses inline, since they both deny the Trinity. In case you haven't noticed, the Assemblies of God and the Calvary Chapels HAVE denounced the very abuses you reference, but you refuse to acknowledge their efforts. MAC goes on to insinuate that the Gifts are like leaven and have permeated the whole loaf with false practices and false doctrine.
MAC accuses the Charismatics of introducing heresy into the church, and yet it is the liberal Calvinists that are pro-abortion and ordaining practicing homosexual ministers. Why not have a "Strange Fire Conference" about issues in your own denomination before you attack others on topics you know so little about?
Unfortunately, MAC doesn't just throw the baby out, he crucifies the baby upside-down and then smiles like a Cheshire cat (all the way to the bank). MAC knows that "sex sells" but so does controversy. I'm no big Hank Hanegraaff fan, but at least Hanegraaff is somewhat even handed in his approach to the topic. Hanegraaff, in his book "Counterfeit Christianity" deals with the unbiblical extremes in Pentecostal circles (sometimes called "Holy Rollers") from a Biblical perspective. In comparison, "Strange Fire" comes across as simply an ad hominem attack against 500 million brothers and sisters in Christ. Ironically, MAC is guilty of the main fault he attributes against the Charismatics: experientialism. He claims that their scriptural evidence for embracing the miraculous is anecdotal at best and demonic at heart.
The same could be said about MAC. He provides little if any Biblical evidence for his spurious claims and simply screams over and over that the Charismatics have unbiblical experiences. He rarely attempts to back his claims up with scripture, and when he does, the verses are so far out of context that it boggles the mind and shakes the confidence we might have had in his sanity. MAC likes his god in a box, thank you very much and seems to think that HE should be able to determine who gets the Spiritual Gifts rather than the Holy Spirit. And since HE didn't get any, then NO ONE gets any. If MAC ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.
It's rather ironic that MAC challenges the magnitude of today's miracles by saying that the miracles that the Charismatics document are not as spectacular as those recorded in the Gospels. So I guess that gives those with NO faith the right to judge those with LITTLE faith. I'll take a small miracle over no miracle any day!
I find it absolutely amazing that MAC consistently claims that they are strictly "bible-centered" but then they turn around attack something that is so clearly taught in the Scriptures, without citing chapter and verse. All they talk about is church history and early church fathers. Just a reminder, MAC, we get all our doctrine from the Scriptures, not from man or his history. You would think that if their position was so strong, clear and obvious, that they would be able to find at least one verse in context that bolstered their position. The only place you can find that kind of "scriptural evidence" is in the commentary section of one of MAC's super duper Study Bibles (on sale now for the low, low price of only $60!).
You have to understand that their Cessationist doctrine doesn't stop at the Gifts of the Spirit. Their position is that ALL interaction with God has ceased. They teach that God wrote the New Testament and then went into reclusive verbal hibernation. To add insult to injury, MAC not only teaches that the Trinity is under some divine gag order, but that God has allowed Satan free reign to speak to our spirits all he wants! (see documentation on page 3 entitled "Shut Up")
Our main question for MAC is, "Who are you to limit God?" Who are you to tell God to keep His Mouth shut? Especially in view of so many Scriptures that contradict your position on God being mute, like:
Hebrews 3:8, "The Holy Spirit says, 'If you hear His Voice, do not harden your hearts."
MAC thinks he doesn't have to worry about a hard heart, because he simply never hears His Voice! In actuality, MAC, if you never hear His Voice, it means you've already hardened your heart!
Paul tells us in Galatians 4:6-7, "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." Because MAC rejects the present day ministry of the Holy Spirit, he ends up with a hardened heart and a slave-like mentality that sees God as a condemning Master rather than Abba (Daddy).
The reality is that there is not one single verse in the Bible that says the ministry of the Holy Spirit would cease in this age of the Church. Quite the contrary.
Paul said in I Corinthians 12, "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant...
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills."
Jesus said in Acts 1:4-8 that He would "baptize them in the Holy Spirit" and they would "receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you." And we see the fulfillment of this promise on the day of Pentecost. MAC says the church doesn't need that power anymore because we have the Bible. Really?
Peter said in Acts 2:39 that the promise of receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit was for every believer, for "as many as the Lord our God shall call!"
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus also promised that the miraculous would follow those that believed, in Chapter 16, verse 17. MAC would like to insert: "until further notice." And MAC has given notice.
Jesus promised in John 14:16 that the Holy Spirit "would be with us FOREVER!" MAC would like everyone to scratch out the word forever, and write in "for a while."
Paul said in Romans 11:29 that, "The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable." MAC prefers the word "dispensational" over irrevocable.
Paul also admonished the church in I Cor 1:4-8, " I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no Gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." The indication is that the Gifts (of the Spirit) that they posessed were to last the church until Christ returned.
There are many other clear verses that say that the Holy Spirit’s ministry and gifts are perpetual to the end of this age. But because some people prefer a God who doesn’t require much more than church attendance, they settle for complacency rather than God’s best. Paul said the Gifts of the Spirit must be “earnestly desired.” That means striving to attain them. But some folks prefer to be on the “inactive” list.
Hebrews 4:2 says, "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." But Jesus says that there is something more powerful than the Bible...your traditions!
John MacArthur's "Strange Fire"
Jesus said in Mark 7:
"For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men..."
"All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition..."
"Making the word of God of no effect through your tradition..."
Because MAC's tradition is to reject the Gifts of the Spirit, he not only teaches that the Gifts are not for today, he insinuates that any modern manifestations of the Gifts are carnal or fake! What's next, MAC, the Fruits of the Spirit?
So asking MAC to teach on the Gifts of the Spirit would be like asking the Wright Brothers to fly a 747 or asking a caveman to fix your computer or asking an atheist to explain the Plan of Salvation. MAC doesn't have the Gifts of the Spirit because he denies their existence. He turns a blind eye to the myriad of lucid texts that validate their perpetuity and sinks his teeth into verses ripped from their context. MAC prefers to rely on his "intellect" to draw erroneous conclusions and to convince others that the Emperor's New Clothes really do exist. The insinuation is that you would have to be an idiot to not see the "reality" of their unbiblical position.
Instead of embracing verses like "Earnestly desire spiritual gifts" (I Cor 14:1), "Do not forbid speaking in tongues" (I Cor 14:39), and "Do not quench the Spirit and do not despise prophecies." (I Thess 5:19-20), MAC quenches the Spirit by refusing to desire spiritual gifts, despising prophecies and I would venture to say if you gave a message in tongues in his church, one of his security guards would gladly introduce your face to the concrete.
Ephesians 4:30-32 says, "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
There is a difference between being non-charismatic and being anti-charismatic. We can agree to disagree. But painting your charismatic brothers and sisters as being carnal, evil, biblically illiterate and even demonic is a pretty good example of "grieving the Holy Spirit."
What on earth could possibly be his motive?
John MacArthur's "Strange Fire"
For those who deny the money motivation, IRS records state that MacArthur pays himself $237 per hour to host his radio program, "Grace to You." Multiply that by how many hours per week he claims to work for the show (20 hours) and his salary for just the radio program alone is over $246,000 per year. Oddly, the radio program is just exerpts from his Sunday sermons. The only thing he records seperately is a short comment and a plea for money at the end of the show. I'll bet the little old ladies that send him their Social Security money would think twice if they knew he was paying himself $237 per hour!
He then gets over $100,000 per year from the seminary, not to mention his salary from the church, book royalties and speaking fees.
In another fine example of nepotism, out of the $14 million per year that he takes in from "Grace to You," he pays a few friends and family members several hundred thousand dollars per year for "working" on the show.