John MacArthur's Strange Fire Conference Creates Backlash in Church Community

The Christian Post reported Pastor John MacArthur continued his harsh stance against the charismatic movement in a conference this week at his California church. During his often very critical presentations, he has named Pentecostal-influenced pastors, including T.D. Jakes and Joel Osteen, and criticized churches who focus on “spirit-filled” services rather than Christ-centered doctrine, calling the charismatic movement “a long war on truth.”

“If the Charismatic movement was being produced by the Holy Spirit, the glory of Christ would prevail everywhere,” said MacArthur on Thursday. “It would be Christ-dominated and everyone in the movement would be bowing the knee to the true Christ in belief of the true Gospel. … The people would be humble. They would be joyful. They would be sacrificial. They would be confessional. They would be declaring Jesus as Lord and themselves His slaves. They would be denying themselves, taking up their cross and following Him wherever He led.”

“The true people of God have always had to battle the false prophets and the liars,” he continued. “What makes them effective is the deceptiveness of it. It is a strange irony to me, in the Charismatic movement, that if you criticize them, if you endeavor to be vigilant and discerning, and if you endeavor to contend for the truth and hold them to Scripture and expose their error, they will condemn you as the sinner … How do I know that? I have lived that.”

MacArthur’s comments have produced a backlash statement from the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and a Pentecostal minister. Rodriguez said MacArthur “suffers from spiritual, cultural and theological myopia” and is ignorant of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement’s “unbridled commitment to biblical orthodoxy.”

“Unfortunately, this blessed Christian leader cannot differentiate between substance and style, or engaging a biblical metaphor, between Christianity’s ‘wine’ and the varied ‘wineskins.'” stated Rodriguez.  “In other words, Mr. MacArthur should be focusing on the fact that while many in the church continue to abandon our Christian faith, the Pentecostal/Charismatic community continues to offer the church a legitimate growth mechanism.” Rodriguez referred to the current spiritual success being made by the movement in Africa, South America, the Caribbean, and in other places around the world.

“In a world full of relativism, decadence, strife and apathy, John MacArthur should focus on preaching the Word: Christ crucified, resurrected and coming back again,” Rodriguez recommended.

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