Wednesday, October 23, 2013
THE HOLY SPIRIT, CHARISMATICS, AND JOHN MCARTHUR
Many years ago, I started listening to John McArthur on the radio. I loved his sermons and ranked him up with my favorite preachers, Charles Stanley, Chuck Swindoll, Chuck Smith, Tony Evans, and Chuck Missler, to name a few. What I slowly began to realize, sadly, is that John McArthur is a Calvinist. At that point, I shied away from his teachings as Calvinism tends to flavor the rest of a person's theology.
This week, John McArthur came out against the Charismatic movement in a very strong way. I agree with McArthur that much of what goes on in the name of God, within the charimatic movement, is foolishness at best and heretical at worst. The so called Toronto Blessing back in the 90's was a total fiasco making Christians look downright crazy, while the perpetrators laughed all the way to the bank.
What one must be very careful with is that we do not throw the Holy Spirit out with the dirty bath water of Charismania. The Holy Spirit is still very active in the lives of believers as we are indwelt by the Spirit upon conversion. The Holy Spirit becomes our guide and sanctifies our lives as we place ourselves under obedience to God. The Holy Spirit is also still in the miracle business.
Many outside charismatic circles believe that the spiritual manifestations spoken of in I Corinthians are no longer for today and should not be practiced and if they are practiced, then they are being faked. Many inside charismatic circles believe that not exercising these "gifts" is evidence of not being saved. Both cannot be right, and in fact, neither one is. The word "gifts" do not appear in the original language. The proper translation should be "spirituals" or as I like to refer to as "spiritual manifestations". Scripture used by those outside charismatic churches to deny the modern day use of spiritual manifestations do not hold up under scrutiny. On the other hand, those that tend to
encourage charismatic behavior often ignore scripture passages that govern the use of spirituals and church governance.
Many charismatic churches encourage open forum speaking in tongues in a service. The Bible specifically prohibits such a demonstration as the Apostle Paul referred to it as seemingly insanity. Instead, the use of tongues is to be orderly and one at a time. If there is no interpretation of the tongue within the congregation, then no one is to speak any longer. Very rarely is that Biblical instruction followed. Instead, you have a room full of people sputtering gibberish thinking that they are bringing honor to God.
God does not indicate anywhere in scripture that we are to shun spiritual manifestations. On the other hand, we are absolutely NOT supposed to carry on with abandon and blame our behavior on the Holy Spirit. Honestly, there is probably little or no reason for an American to speak in tongues in an American church, but I would not want to restrict God and say He could not cause a missionary to speak in tongues in a foreign land so that the native speakers would understand.
I have personally witnessed healings in my own family, I have witnessed prophecies spoken over people or situations which came to pass and I firmly believe that God gives discernment to certain believers who are able to test spirits as the Bible commands us to do.
My fear is that when a spiritual heavyweight, like John McArthur, comes out against something as strongly as he has come out against the charismatic movement, believers will shift too far in their thinking and totally discount any supernatural or miraculous events. There must be balance and that balance is not found in the words of cessationist teachers like McArthur, nor in the maniacal teachings of heretics like Rodney Howard Browne. The balance is found in the scriptures, especially in chapters 12, 13, and 14 of I Corinthians. It is impossible to read those scriptures without seeing the clear instruction on utilizing spiritual manifestations in the church. All things are to be done in order, and as I Corinthians 13 reminds us, pursuing love is far greater than any pursuit of so called "spiritual gifts".