Thinking Out Loud

May 20, 2018

The Original Day of Pentecost United; Present-Day Responses to Pentecost Divide

As I considered options for Pentecost Sunday here on the blog, I re-discovered this article from 2013. I don’t usually repeat the non-original items which have appeared here, but the idea of doing that with this kept gaining traction in my mind…

A Prominent Pentecostal Responds to John MacArthur

J. Lee Grady (pictured below) epitomizes, for me at least, the phrase “balanced Charismatic.”  Here’s the opening to his article, To My Fundamentalist Brother John MacArthur: Grace to You Too

J. Lee Grady 2Fundamentalist pastor John MacArthur is a gifted preacher, author and lover of Scripture. His Grace to You radio program points countless people to the Bible, and his Master’s Seminary trains hundreds of ministry leaders. He’s a staunch Calvinist, but that doesn’t make him any less my brother in Christ.

Unfortunately, MacArthur can’t say the same about me—and that’s sad. In his new book Strange Fire, he declares in no uncertain terms that anyone who embraces any form of charismatic or Pentecostal theology does not worship the true God.

My brother in Christ has written me off.

In John MacArthur’s rigid world, anybody who has sought prayer for healing, claimed a miracle, received a prayer language, prophesied, sensed God speaking to them, felt God’s presence in an emotional way or fallen down on the floor after receiving prayer has already stepped out of the bounds of orthodoxy.

MacArthur says charismatics think they worship God but that actually we are worshipping a golden calf. “Every day millions of charismatics offer praise to a patently false image of the  Holy Spirit,” MacArthur says early in the book. “No other movement has done more damage to the cause of the gospel.”

He doesn’t just write off fringe elements of our movement; he skewers the original founders of Pentecostalism and even goes after Baptist author Henry Blackaby for teaching that God can speak to people today.

MacArthur, who is 74, urges evangelical Christians to engage in a “collective war” to stop the spread of the charismatic movement, which he describes as a “deadly virus,” a “deviant mutation of the truth” and a “Trojan horse” that has infiltrated mainstream Christianity…

Continue reading here

Perhaps we can paraphrase MacArthur’s statement — quoted in the 5th paragraph above — and say that, “No other individual has caused more potential for dividing the Body of Christ in 2013 than John MacArthur.”

December 22, 2014

And So It Goes

Last week this appeared on the Dallas Willard quotes Twitter feed:

We must be open to the possibility of God’s addressing us in whatever way he chooses, or else we may walk right past a burning bush.

So of course, a certain element couldn’t leave that alone and posted a reply:

Or we could stick to Scripture and be CERTAIN that He’s spoken!

And then someone blogged a link to it, writing:

Um, okay, but what if it isn’t really God? Wouldn’t we be better off just reading the Bible?

And so it goes, day after day after day after day.

God must let out a sigh each time he sees this.

Here’s my take. If you do in fact read the Bible, then you know very well that God speaks to us in different ways, through the Bible, through the general revelation and the common grace, through other people, and by the Holy Spirit.

My point here isn’t that there are a variety of methods God uses, or how many there are, or how they work. My point is the phrase “then you know very well.”

Dallas is saying in effect, don’t miss out on something God may be using to show you something or teach you something. He has infinite means at his disposal.

And deep down in our hearts we all know that to be the case.

But there are people of a certain stripe within the realm of Christianity who simply can’t wait for an opportunity to dismiss Dallas Willard’s brand of faith, and demonstrate their spiritual superiority by waving the sola scriptura flag. It’s not so much that they violently disagree with the idea that God is at work in the world around us in so many different ways, as much as it’s an attempt to exploit Dallas’ words so they can make their point, thus advancing the cause of the Bible and truth and pure doctrine.

The problem is, these people have God so completely figured out that in carrying out their version of Christian living they can sometimes miss out on what God is doing in the world around them; miss out on hearing God’s voice.

Didn’t somebody say that already?

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