To say that John MacArthur’s Strange Fire Conference has lit a flame under the seats of many Christians may be an understatement. The Christian Post, a popular Christian news source, has been filled the past two weeks with articles from authors, pastors, and church leaders calling for everything from doctrinal balance, unity in the Body, advocating for the charismatic movement, and condemning MacArthur as a heretic. It has been interesting to watch events unfold with emotions boiling over and everyone calling each other “heretic” and “Pharisee”.
From my perspective, MacArthur is both right and wrong.
He is right that there are immense abuses in the charismatic movement, which need to be addressed as opposed to blithely dismissing them like many of the article writers have done. There has been no call from charismatics for repentance or reform, only the condemnation of MacArthur for daring to oppose them. These leaders and laypeople have had prime opportunities to expound the reasons for their beliefs, to point out Scriptures for their actions, to teach their history and how the charismatic movement has helped both themselves and others. All I have heard and read are emotionally-charged people defending themselves by name-calling and being disrespectful of others, relating an experience or two, and pointing to their growing numbers as evidence that they are right. They are no more than toddlers throwing a tantrum.
Still, I do not believe in cessationism, the belief that the Holy Spirit no longer gives gifts like the Apostles had. I do not see clear evidence for this belief in Scripture, and I have witnessed moments of healing, miraculous provision, words of knowledge, discernment, etc. They are however, not as “loud” or exciting or entertaining as many in the charismatic movement would like them to be.
There are a great many things wrong in the charismatic movement, and I have been very disappointed in the lack of serious admission and attempts at change. That alone speaks volumes.