I’ve been invited to engage with famous blogger Frank Viola on the issue of StrangeFire. He’s posted a second part of his refutation of StrangeFire here (his first post doesn’t actually address the conference per say) and my response is there. In case it doesn’t post, I’ll write my response below:
Wowzer. You have some interesting commentators here. I can only imagine how popular I’ll be in a few minutes…
So you invited me to engage with you, so let’s do that, shall we?
So here’s your refutation:
Point 1 – MacArthur sees problems (but we do it too)
This isn’t any form or refutation…?!?
Point 2 – Charismatics make Jesus a footnote (but you do it too)
This isn’t any form or refutation…?!?
Point 3 – MacArthur paints the entire charismatic world with the same brush…
This is demonstrably untrue. In his first plenary session, he clearly differentiated between the movement as a whole and individuals within the movement. He could have been more clear, but he didn’t paint every single individual charismatic with the same brush.
Point 4 – MacArthur misrepresents people (with the only example being Kathryn Kuhlman), wrongly says that the Charismatics acknowledged that the gifts had ceased in the early years, and MacArthur selectively quotes the early church fathers.
I look forward to seeing MacArthur’s research on 1 woman being debunked and the whole book tossed in the trash on the basis of one error.
As for the early beliefs about the gifts in the 1900’s, I’ve actually heard that from Charismatics…kinda like how Peter Wagner says that the offices of apostle, intercessor and prophet were recently re-given to the church. The fact that you haven’t heard it doesn’t mean anything one way or the other.
With regards to the early church fathers, I’m looking forward to you providing quotes about the sign gifts existing in the post-apostolic church…not miracles and not healing in response to prayer; the specific sign gifts.
Cessationists don’t deny the miraculous and we believe in divine healing. Divine healing isn’t the same as the sign gift of healing…but you are well aware of those exegetically derived nuances, right?
Point 5 – MacArthur makes smelly statements.
a. Well, what if your nose is broken? Why are you any authority on tone or tenor?
b. And what exactly IS the gospel? I imagine we would agree that involves the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, right? Is it ONLY those three ideas? Is it more? Is the ascension part of the gospel? The Kingdom? What’s more, what if you add something TO the gospel that isn’t part of it? Do you still have the gospel if I add on “and you MUST read the 3rd revision of the King James Bible”? Do I still have the gospel of have I changed it into a counterfeit gospel?
Almost every Charismatic church I’ve been a part of (AOG, ACOP, PAOC, Vineyard, FourSquare, Victory)adds the doctrine of subsequence to the gospel as the practical validation of salvation/the presence of the Spirit in one’s life. If the gospel involves me speaking in tongues, is it still the gospel? If repentance is evidenced by speaking in tongues, is it still the gospel?
What do you call a church that preaches a gospel other than the gospel revealed in the scriptures?
c. As for the idea that the Charismatic “movement is characterized by worldly priorities and fleshly pursuits”, couldn’t help but notice that you had a blatant and rather obvious category confusion. It’s interesting how you pick out 5 individuals to characterize a movement of 500 million. MacArthur didn’t say that Wilkerson or the other four were worldly & fleshly, but rather that the charismatic movement (as a monolithic movement) is marked by worldly and fleshly pursuits (NOT worldliness and fleshliness). Why didn’t you pick out Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, David Oyedepo, Ray McCauley and Frank Houston?
Because those guys are obviously worldly and fleshly, but then hat wouldn’t make your case, would it?
Some might call that kind of rhetoric “deceptive”. Not me though, I’m sure it’s an honest mistake.
Point 6 – “MacArthur’s argument that the supernatural gifts of the Spirit have ceased is not only biblically and historically untenable, but it is discounted by the best New Testament evangelical scholars in the world, both past and present”
a. Biblically and historically untenable? I’ll definitely sleep warmly under that absurd blanket statement. I’d love to engage you on a sheer exegetical level. No commentaries. No cheating. Just the text of scripture and you, and see who can make the more convincing exegetical case. Maybe on Monday I’ll get a chance!
b. So everyone disagrees with him, but you only give four examples, two of which don’t even have concern with this issue at all in the first place…and Keener and Fee…HA!
Fee rejects the doctrine of subsequence, which is a denominational distinctive of his own denomination (AoG). He’s anything but typical when it comes to charismatics (what with loudly denying that Mark 16:9-20 is part of the scripture and all…)
As for Keener, everyone refers to his book on miracles which brings me back to the whole point that Cessationists don’t have any problem with miracles. Keener is arguing with naturalists, not cessationists. As for “Gift and Giver”, I can count on one hand the Charismatics I know who are familiar with that book. Keener is an academic, but he’s NOT a popular level defender. That’s like me saying that some obscure, shotgun-toting pastor with 9 wives from a KJV onlyist cult is a representative cessationist. If people generally don’t know who he is and his literature isn’t widely read, why is he put forth as the official delegate to defend you?
Point 7 – Wait. Where’s point seven? Your title says “7 Points” but there’s only six. Why am I the only one who has noticed this?
Anyways, I look forward to reading your magnum opus on Monday.
It will be fun to see how this all plays out.
Next Week, when he releases his e-book, I take a few slashes at it.
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “The Man Dressed in Black” Unger