“Good is the enemy of best”
John MacArthur has made a great contribution to the church and a great contribution to the ministry. He has years and years of decorated service to our Lord, however, he is a human and not perfect.
In this article, I am going to argue that Dr. John MacArthur has his focus misplaced in his criticism of the Charismatic Movement. Recently, Dr. MacArthur has attacked the movement (actually, it has been over a 40 year crusade) by sponsoring a conference against them. MacArthur believes there is great deception among the Charismatics and communicates that: “They’re false teachers and they know they’re false teachers. They’re in it for the money and they know they’re in it for the money. We also know there are people caught up in the movement who are deceived and may not know they are deceived. They are brans that need to be snatched from the burning, to borrow the words from Jude. There are leaders who need to be confronted and exposed and there are unwitting leaders who need to be helped and encouraged and to know the truth.” In short, MacArthur has branded the whole Movement as deceivers and people who are deceived paralleling them with Mormonism.
It is fine to have an opinion, especially when one desires to help people see the real gospel, but do it in dialogue when attacking someone else who professes faith in Jesus Christ. When one makes such strong statements about a group of people, have the courage to interchange with someone you are criticizing. Pastor MacArthur has not engaged in a face-to-face public dialogue but those he accuses have made requests. Michael Brown writes in Charisma News, “For the last several months, I have requested a face-to-face meeting with Pastor MacArthur to discuss our differences, but that request has been denied (either by him or by his team).” If one will make strong statements about another, have the courage to dialogue and do it in public.
I will also argue that the years of Dr. MacArthur’s ministry and his undying uncompromising commitment to the Word of God, that he himself needs to take a deep look inside with God’s word as the illuminator. Are their charlatans in the Charismatic Movement? Yes! Are there those who are deceived? Yes! However, are there sincere believers who are hearing from God and forwarding his kingdom? I will also respond-in my opinion-with a demonstrative Yes!
In Mark 9:38-40 (also in Luke 9:49-50) the disciples are taken aback by someone casting out demons but was not of the 12 disciples in Jesus’ circle. Jesus’ response: “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.” Hence, Dr. MacArthur needs to listen to the other side. God is doing great things among Charismatics and his attacks are not helping the kingdom. But if he is right, then how does he explain the strong movement of the gospel throughout the world by Charismatics?
With over 140 million orphans in the world, with the sin of sex trafficking taking center stage, with over 2 billion people in the world in dire poverty, and world hunger still ravaging, is it really time to focus so much attention on the Charismatic Movement?
Dr. MacArthur believes the Movement is false and his motive is to keep the church pure, a very noble intention. The Bible has the answer on the way he should go about this discussion. In Joshua 22, the eastern tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh return home upon Joshua’s command and encouragement for being loyal during the conquest of the land. As the tribes return home, they build an altar. When the Israelites hear this news, they armed themselves for battle, fearing the apostasy of the eastern tribes and remembering the sin of Achan, the golden calf, and how impurity hurt their community; Israel wants to purge this uncleanness.
Before attacking, they first listen to the eastern tribes and their motive for building an altar. The eastern tribes’ response: it was not for sacrificial offerings but for witness to ensure that generations to come would know that the eastern tribes are indeed part of the nation and have their share in the Lord (Joshua 22:26-34). Once the nation of Israel understood the eastern tribes’ perspective, disaster was averted and there was no civil war.
Dr. MacArthur believes the Charismatics are deceived. Rather than writing books and having conferences with one-sided speakers lambasting the Charismatic Movement, have a conference where a conversation is present between Dr. MacArthur, his cohorts, and those he is criticizing. Try to understand both sides and if Dr. MacArthur is indeed correct, the Movement’s leaders will have the milieu for reform. If Dr. MacArthur is wrong, then hopefully repentance and reconciliation will occur and the church as a whole can be strengthened to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth and see the Great Commission fulfilled.