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Biological Disconnect

Biological Disconnect.

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Posted by on January 8, 2015 in #BIBLE, #FAMILY, #HUMANISM, #LIVING

 

HERETICAL MYLES MUNROE

Myles Munroe Myles Munroe teaches that God needs our permission to work on earth.  He also teaches that angels need our permission as well to do their jobs.For example, he teaches that God sought Abraham for permission to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.  In their make believe interaction according to Myles Munroe, God told Abraham, “You got it!  You’re the man!  Once you’re satisfied and give me permission I will act.This is absurd to think that an Almighty and Sovereign God needs our permission to act in His universe!  Think about it my friend, is this not the height of arrogance?  What does the bible have to say about the sovereign plan of God and the vain efforts of man that try to subvert it?And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” Daniel 4:35, see also Isaiah 43:3, Psalm 115:3, 135:6.  Whom will you believe, God or Myles Munroe? Benny Hinn made the following endorsements after these incredibly blasphemous statements by Myles Munroe: “Man!  That is absolutely awesome!  Dear God!That’s incredible!  That’s incredible!  Wow!Wow!  Wow!  Wow!This is so amazing!Are you getting blessed like I am, dear Jesus. Myles Munroe: That’s why angel’s need our permission to function.  It says they are here to do our biddingThey can’t even act without our permission, you see.  But, here’s the bigger statement: Even God Himself is illegal on earth.  Why?  Because, He is a spirit and the law He set up by His own mouth was that only spirits with bodies can function on earth legally.”(Myles Munroe, “This Is Your Day,” Benny Hinn, July 12, 2004) “Why can’t God take care of Pharaoh by Himself?  Why can’t God invade that government and disrupt that process and set them free by Himself?  He is illegal.  So God then has to get the attention of a human first.  Then spend hours, maybe even days trying to convince this one human to work with Him.  Moses came up with every single excuse he could find and gave them.  And Almighty God tolerated him, saying, ‘Look, if you can’t talk, I will speak for you.  If you got problems, I’ll solve them for you.  If you’re afraid, I’ll give you courage.  In other words, whatever you need, please work with meCause I want to do something.  Give me your body.'”(Myles Munroe, “This Is Your Day,” Benny Hinn, July 13, 2004) So, even though God can do anything, He can only do what you permit Him to do.  If you study the Word of God, you will see why it makes so much sense.  For example, God has done nothing on earth without a human co-operating with Him.  He had to find a human.  When God for example wanted to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah…Go ahead and destroy it!  No!  He [God] was illegal.  He had to find a human to give Him access and ageement to release His powerSo, then God had to negotiate with a man in Abraham.  They argued for a long time!…Abraham figured it out.  Abraham said, ‘Ahh, Haa!  Okay, so I’ll tell you what!  Before I give you permission [Abraham gives God permission!] to touch that city, if I could find 50 men, 40, 30, 10.’  He said, ‘I’m dealing, and God had to deal with a man.’  And he said, ‘If I could only find one.’ God says, ‘You got it!  You’re the man!  Once you’re satisfied and give me permission I will act.(Myles Munroe, “This Is Your Day,” Benny Hinn, July 12, 2004) “When you study Moses or any human that has been successful with God, you will find this dependency God has on humanity. God says, ‘Moses, quickly agree with me.  Because your brother, your nephew is on the way.  We got to get this work doneI need a human to agree.’  As soon as Moses agrees with God, God says, ‘Okay, let’s Go.‘”(Myles Munroe, “This Is Your Day,” Benny Hinn, July 13, 2004) “Let me define prayer for you in this show. Prayer is man giving God permission or license to interfere in earth’s affairsIn other words, prayer is earthly license for heavenly interference.(Myles Munroe, “This Is Your Day,” Benny Hinn, July 12, 2004) Heaven depends on earth for interference.  If He [God] could just find two people like you [Benny Hinn] and I to agree.  We agree for God to do this thing.  Then God says, ‘Thank you very much for permission!‘  Then He [God] can come.”(Myles Munroe, “This Is Your Day,” Benny Hinn, July 13, 2004) “Our prayer is a strange experience.  We normally ask God to do things, God is telling us to command Him permission to do it for us.(Myles Munroe, “This Is Your Day,” Benny Hinn, July 13, 2004) God could do nothing on earth, nothing has God ever done on earth without a human giving Him access.(Myles Munroe, “This Is Your Day,” Benny Hinn, July 12, 2004) He [God] could not name those animals because He [God] is illegal.(Myles Munroe, “This Is Your Day,” Benny Hinn, July 13, 2004) “O’ Lord, heal this man.  God says, ‘No! No! No!  Talk to the sickness, I am already healing the guy.  What I need is permission to get the healing on earth.‘”(Myles Munroe, “This Is Your Day,” Benny Hinn, July 13, 2004) Myles Munroe:  “Jesus was necessary for Christ.Benny Hinn:  “Wait!  Wait!  Wait!  Wait!  Pastor, slow down.  What you mean is.”Myles Munroe: “Jesus made Christ legal on the earth.  Jesus was the body.Benny Hinn:  “Has he always been this deep here?  It’s amazing what he’s saying.  So, So, repeat that.”Myles Munroe:  “Christ is God’s Spirit, that’s why Christ needed a body to come to earth legally.(Myles Munroe, “This Is Your Day,” Benny Hinn, July 13, 2004) Every sick person is already healed.  That’s why you don’t really have to lay hands on a million of people in India to heal them.  You don’t have to, they are already healed.  What God’s problem is, is getting the healing to earth.(Myles Munroe, “This Is Your Day,” Benny Hinn, July 13, 2004) When a human gets healed and becomes well again, God Himself is able to stay here legally longer.(Myles Munroe, “This Is Your Day,” Benny Hinn, July 13, 2004) “Every spirit is trying to find a body.  Can I give you another shocker?  [Benny Hinn: You bet!]  Even the Holy Spirit, because He cannot function here without a body.  That’s why your called the body of Christ.  And it says our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Cause He Himself needs to be legal to function.(Myles Munroe, “This Is Your Day,” Benny Hinn, July 13, 2004) In other words, Moses had to initiate the action for God to produce the product.(Myles Munroe, “This Is Your Day,” Benny Hinn, July 13, 2004) “God says, ‘If my people,’ now if means, ‘I would like to fix this, but I can’t fix this without a human giving me permission.‘”(Myles Munroe, “This Is Your Day,” Benny Hinn, July 13, 2004) Interfering in earth by God is totally up to usHeaven is waiting on earth to get things done.”(Myles Munroe, “This Is Your Day,” Benny Hinn, July 13, 2004) “What is faith?  Faith is believing in what you said, that God told you.  In other words, the fight is to keep believing after you said something.(Myles Munroe, “This Is Your Day,” Benny Hinn, July 12, 2004) “That’s why your [Benny Hinn] healing ministry is necessary.  God could heal people by Himself as a spirit with powerBut it’s illegal to do it on earth.  So, He needs a human agency.  What does laying your hands on a human to do with healing?  Well, really nothing.  We touch you you all the time but your sick.  What He’s looking for is permissionThe power to heal is always present, but having permission to heal is held up by humanity and their lack of faith.(Myles Munroe, “This Is Your Day,” Benny Hinn, July 12, 2004) “God made a promise to Satan, I paraphrase again, I believe God said it this way in my spirit.  He said, ‘Satan, you know I can’t come in right now because I’m a spiritAnd if I came in now as a spirit I would violate my Word, break my Word, and I would never be able to be trusted again with my Word.  But, I’ll make a promise, and the promise is: the same woman that you used to destroy my program on earth for humanity.  I’m going to use the same woman and I’m going to put my seed in her womb and she’ll build around me a physical dirt body.  And I will become legal in the earth.  And then legal, I will then come in legally and crush your authority legally.(Myles Munroe, “This Is Your Day,” Benny Hinn, July 12, 2004) Satan himself knew that in order for him to fuction on this earth that he needed a body alsoThat’s why he had to go to the serpent which had a dirt body and negotiated with the serpent to borrow his body for awhile.  And he did, and that’s why God cursed the serpent cause the serpent literally loaned his body to the Adversary, who’s a spirit, in order to do buisness legally with Eve.(Myles Munroe, “This Is Your Day,” Benny Hinn, July 12, 2004) “It bothered me, I’m sure it bothered you [Benny Hinn] for years as a pastor.  If God is so mighty, powerful, awesome, omnipotent, omniscient, why couldn’t this mighty God who made 500 million planets and galaxies couldn’t stop a skinny little woman from picking the fruit and destroying His whole program?  I mean, God aren’t you powerful?  You could intervene, you can destroy the works of the devil, prevent the woman and save humanity.  But He couldn’t!  Not that He didn’t, He couldn’t!…”(Myles Munroe, “This Is Your Day,” Benny Hinn, July 12, 2004)
 

MEDITATION THAT HONORS GOD

by John MacArthur

The period of European history known as the Dark Ages were just that—dark. Mortality rates were exceptionally high. Medical advances could not keep up with the spread of disease. Poverty and illiteracy were pervasive. And on top of all that, the light of God’s Word was monopolized and distorted by the Roman Catholic Church. Only the religious elite had access to Scripture, and most of them manipulated and perverted its message beyond recognition.

That darkness gave way to the Reformation. The Protestant Reformers recovered the gospel and made Scripture accessible to the common man. They rejected the idea of a pope who presumed to speak for God on earth. God spoke through Scripture and the Reformers devoted themselves tirelessly to the labor of making it readily available in the language of the people.

Today, people all over the world can own and study the Bible in their own languages. That great blessing for Christians brings the responsibility to study God’s Word. And from that study, believers have the joy and duty of representing the Creator and proclaiming His message. Over the previous two weeks we’ve looked at several aspects of how to study the Bible, including:

  1. Placing the proper value on God’s Word.
  2. Reading both the Old and New Testaments.
  3. Interpreting a biblical text before it is applied.
  4. Avoiding common errors of interpretation.
  5. Bridging the gaps between the modern reader and the original author.
  6. Knowing the principles of Bible interpretation.

Those fundamentals, when incorporated into your study of Scripture, will progressively grow your knowledge of God and yourself, and cultivate a well-rounded biblical worldview. It is in His Word that God has chosen to reveal Himself to us in an intimate and saving way. He owns us, knows us, and holds us responsible to know, understand, and proclaim Him on His terms and not our own.

Scripture is sacred and we should treat it as such by carefully handling its truth. Paul exhorted Timothy to study Scripture as a workman “accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The tradesmen of Paul’s time needed to carry out their work with precision and great care. Paul was saying that the same sort of approach is needed when studying Scripture.

God instructed Israel concerning that very issue:

These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:6–7)

In other words, you ought to have God’s Word running around in your mind all the time. If you’re reading a portion of the New Testament thirty times in a row, as previously suggested, it will penetrate and shape your thinking. It should lead to meditation, which takes all the dimensions of study we’ve discussed and molds them into a unified understanding of biblical truth.

The word meditate can evoke thoughts of empty minds and eastern religions. But it is more likely that Hindus and Buddhists borrowed the term from the Bible and twisted its meaning to conform with their false religions. From the time of Joshua’s military conquest of Canaan, we hear the Lord instructing His people to meditate on God’s Word (Joshua 1:8). So what does meditate mean? Biblically, it means to focus your mind on one subject.

In Deuteronomy, God tells His people that they should bind His words, “as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals to your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:8–9). God says He wants His Word everywhere.

David highlighted the role meditation plays in our sanctification when he wrote the first Psalm. The blessed man is one who meditates both day and night on God’s law rather than seeking counsel in the fellowship of unbelievers (Psalm 1:1–3). It is the key to his perseverance and fruitfulness as a child of God.

Meditation is no less needed today. We live in a culture that continually assaults us with distractions through billboards, television, the Internet, and more. God says that we should keep His Word perpetually in front of our eyes, filling our minds and conversations wherever we go.

Paul clarified what our minds should feed on:

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

Ultimately, our ongoing relationship with God hinges on sound biblical study. He places monumental importance on knowing, proclaiming, and worshipping Him rightly. And Scripture is the engine driving all of those things. The Dark Ages may have ended, but those who neglect to study and meditate on Scripture shun the light of God’s Word and continue to walk in willful darkness.

 

(Adapted from How to Study the Bible)

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2014 in #BIBLE, #CHRISTIAN, #FAITH, #GOD, #GOSPEL, #LIVING

 

SHOULD I INTERPRET THE BIBLE LITERALLY?


by John MacArthur

Cynics love to mock Christians who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. They note supposed absurdities like, the Bible is a sword (Hebrews 4:12); Jesus is a door (John 10:7); and God is a bird (Psalm 61:4). Of course, such caricatures of the process are obvious misrepresentations of proper biblical interpretation.

Serious students of Scripture, committed to its accuracy and authority, follow five basic principles of interpretation in order to understand the Bible how its authors intended.

1. The Literal Principle

When you read the Bible assume God is speaking in normal language, common everyday communication. If it says man, it means man. If it says the man went somewhere, it means he went somewhere. If it says he built a house, it means he built a house. This is understanding Scripture in the literal sense of language.

Scripture employs are similes, metaphors, hyperbole, and figurative language throughout. Even sarcasm is employed as a literary device. Those devices are used alongside normal, literal language to help illustrate or punctuate what Scripture is saying to the reader. There is seldom confusion in what God’s Word says or how it says it.

In everyday conversation, if we hear someone say, “That man is as strong as an ox,” no one is confused. That is simply using a simile to make a literal point or statement. We need to be wary of those who claim to unlock the Bible’s secrets by bending and twisting symbolic language beyond its clear intent. There is no need to extrapolate some mystical interpretation out of the text, nor insert one into it.

2. The Historical Principle

History is not only a gap to be bridged, but a context to be understood. What did the text mean to the people to whom it was spoken or written? What was the situation the author and his audience found themselves in? Historical circumstances not only explain what is written, but often why it is written. Ignoring the historical setting often leads to missing the point of a passage.

3. The Grammatical Principle

Very few people enjoy grammar, let alone remember their grammar lessons. But grammar is the key to meaning. Prepositions, pronouns, verbs, nouns—and the other parts of speech—are the bones that support every sentence. Imagine a medical examiner trying to determine cause of death without knowing basic anatomy. The result would be no less confusing and prone to error than interpreting the Bible without considering its grammar.

For example, consider the great commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:19–20). On first reading, “go” sounds like an imperative (verb) as does “make disciples,” “baptizing,” and “teaching.” But as you study the sentence, you will find that there’s only one imperative—mathēteusate, “make disciples.” “Go,” “baptizing,” and “teaching” are actually all participles which means they modify the main verb. The central command of the great commission is to “make disciples.” How does one make disciples? You go, baptize, and teach. Understanding the grammar makes the fullness of that concept come out in the text.

4. The Synthesis Principle

The synthesis principle is what the Reformers called the analogia scriptura—the Scripture all comes together. In other words, one part of the Bible doesn’t teach something that another part contradicts. So as you study the Scripture it must all harmonize. (By the way, this is another reason a comprehensive Bible-reading plan is critical.)

For example, Jesus’ story of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31–46) cannot be about salvation by works (feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the prisoner), because Ephesians 2:8–9 tells us that salvation is by grace through faith apart from works. Careful examination reveals that the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25 all thought of themselves as believers—they both call Jesus “Lord” (Matthew 25:37,44). Furthermore, this harmonizes with James 2:17 which says that “faith, if it has no works, is dead.” That’s the synthesis principle.

J.I. Packer has wonderfully said, “The Bible appears like a symphony orchestra, with the Holy Ghost as its Toscanini, each instrument has been brought willingly, spontaneously, creatively, to play his notes just as the great conductor desired, though none of them could ever hear the music as a whole….The point of each part only becomes fully clear when seen in relation to all the rest” (from God Has Spoken).

Do you know what that tells me? There are no contradictions in Scripture. What appear as contradictions can be resolved if we have the information, because the Bible comes together as a whole.

5. The Practical Principle

The final question is: So what? As you try to interpret the Bible, how do you find out what it means for your life? Make sure in your Bible study that you find the practical principle. Read the text and find out what spiritual principle is there that applies to you. But remember that you can’t do that until you’ve gone through the other principles first—literal, historical, grammatical, and synthesis. You know what it means by what it says—now you come to how it applies to you.

Conclusion

You must interpret the Bible rightly. Avoid the common errors, bridge the gaps between the biblical text and your modern setting, and apply the proper principles of interpretation. That brings you to the place where you are ready to engrave God’s Word on your heart (Proverbs 3:3) by meditating on the text. We’ll consider that next time.

 

(Adapted from How to Study the Bible)

 

BRIDGING THE GAPS BETWEEN BIBLE AND BRAIN

by John MacArthur

The Bible has been around for thousands of years. That is a huge gulf of history for the modern reader to cross. How are we to understand what the Bible writers were saying, as well as the various circumstances in which they lived?

One popular answer from modern pulpits to those questions is to transport our modern context into the biblical text. When Scripture tells us that Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:6–10), prosperity preachers equate this with Jesus driving a Ferrari to the White House. Equally bizarre, social justice advocates think it is a blueprint for organizing a protest. Neither approach deals with what Matthew is telling us. The faithful shepherd (and Bible student) must lead his congregation across the historical bridge and immerse them in the culture and context of the biblical authors.

There are four interpretive gaps that the bridge must cross:

1. The Language

We speak English but the Bible was written in Hebrew and Greek, and a few parts in Aramaic (which is similar to Hebrew). That language gap must be bridged in order to properly understand Scripture. For example, in 1 Corinthians 4:1 the apostle Paul says, “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ” (KJV). When we think of the English word minister, we think of a prime minister or the minister of defense. Many people refer to their pastor as a minister. A minister is an elevated thing; it’s a dignified term. But the Greek word is huperetes, which means a third-level galley slave on a ship. Paul wanted others to think of him as a lowly slave—someone without power, authority, or rights—for Jesus Christ. You would never get that out of the English term. Why? Because there’s a language gap.

One of the benefits of newer or updated English translations is that modern translators are able to bring together the best understanding of ancient words with how English words are used and understood today. For example, the New American Standard translates “minister” as “servant” in that text. Thankfully, many Greek and Hebrew words translate well into English, but even modern translations can’t always convey the full meaning of the ancient words.

That’s why it is critical to study the words in the Bible, particularly in the New Testament. What tools do you need for this kind of study? In addition to a good modern translation and a good concordance, you should get W. E. Vine’s An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Moody Press, 1985). It’s very helpful for someone who doesn’t know Greek. You can look up every English word, and it will tell you the Greek meaning. It will be a great help to you as you study the Bible.

2. The Culture

Ancient cultural differences is another gap that must be bridged in Bible study. If we don’t understand the culture of the time in which the Bible was written, we’ll never understand its meaning. For example: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). What does that mean? Why didn’t he say, “In the beginning was Jesus”? Well, he used “the Word” because that was the vernacular at that time. To the Greeks the term Word was used to refer to a kind of ethereal, spatial energy that was floating around. John said to the Greeks that that floating cause, that thing which caused everything, that spatial energy, that cosmic power, is none other than the Word that became flesh (1:14).

To the Jew, the term Word was always the manifestation of God, because “the Word of the Lord” was always God emanating His personality. When John said “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,” he was identifying Jesus Christ, the incarnate Christ, as the very emanation of God. In the text, therefore, he meets the Greek mind and Hebrew mind with the right word that grabs both at vital points.

This continues all through the Bible. If you don’t understand the religious ideas of Gnosticism, you’ll miss a lot of meaning from Colossians and 1 John. If you don’t understand the dynamics of Jewish culture in Gentile cities, you’ll miss the reason for Paul’s strong language against the Judaizers in Galatians. If you don’t understand the Jewish mindset, you’ll miss significant aspects of the book of Matthew. There must be cultural comprehension to fully understand the Bible.

Some books that would help you in this area are The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah by Alfred Edersheim (Eerdmans, 1974) and Barclay’s Daily Study Bible Series by William B. Barclay (Westminster, 1975). Barclay’s insights into culture are very good in spite of his bad theology.

3. The Geography

Geography places a major role throughout the Bible, and therefore joins language and culture as another gap that must be bridged. Understanding directions, distances, terrain, the size of cities and their strategic importance can make a significant difference in your understanding of a particular text. Geographical details will rarely, if ever, change the meaning of the text. However, they add rich color and depth to an otherwise flat and black-and-white page.

The dirty tepid water that flowed into Laodicea was no match for the famous hot springs in nearby Hierapolis, nor the clear cold mountain streams of Colossae. Just that basic information helps bring vivid detail to Christ’s announcement that he would spew the lukewarm Laodiceans out of his mouth as they were neither hot or cold (Revelation 3:14–16). The Mount of Olives, where Jesus prayed in the garden, is where the glory of the Lord ascended after departing from the temple (Ezekiel 11:23). When Jesus returns in all His glory He will descend and His feet will touch down on that very mountain (Zechariah 14:4). Geographical details not only enable us to visualize many passages, they also help us to make connections otherwise hidden. A good Bible atlas is an invaluable reference tool that can help you comprehend the geography of the Holy Land.

4. The History

Finally, knowing the history behind a passage will also help your comprehension. In the gospel of John, the key to understanding the interplay between Pilate, the Jews, and Jesus is based on the knowledge of history. When Pilate came to power in Judea, he infuriated the Jews by bringing what the Jews perceived as idolatrous images into Jerusalem. Sometime later the Jews reported him to Emperor Tiberius when he antagonized them by a similar act. Tiberius was less than sympathetic with Pilate. In an attempt to avoid another confrontation with the Jews, Pilate let Christ be crucified. Why was he afraid? Because he already had a rotten track record, and his job was on the line.

Space doesn’t allow me to go into detail, but a fascinating study that will greatly enrich your understanding is the history between Jews and Samaritans. The history between these two groups will help you understand why any intersection between Jesus and Samaria was scandalous to the Jews, and why a Samaritan village refused to host Jesus and his disciples, prompting James and John to ask Jesus permission to call fire from heaven to consume the village (Luke 9:51-56).

The Bible is a book of history, but there is a lot of history outside the Bible that directly affects what is written in the Bible. A growing understanding of history will open the meaning of the Bible. One excellent source is The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (Zondervan, 1976).

Conclusion

To interpret the Bible means closing those four gaps. As you interpret the meaning of Scripture by using the various sources, you will close the language gap, the culture gap, the geography gap, and the history gap. With those pieces of information in place, you will be ready to apply the principles of Bible interpretation. And we’ll examine that next.

(Adapted from How to Study the Bible)

 

THE ELEPHANT IN THE STRANGE FIRE

by Cameron Buettel

It’s been just over a year since the highly publicized and controversial Strange Fire conference.

As a Grace to You employee with a charismatic background, I watched the buildup to the conference with a considerable amount of interest. I am certainly no stranger to the grievous damage caused by reckless false prophecies in the charismatic church. But since none of that spiritual fallout ever touched me personally, my animosity for the movement did not run deep. In fact, the major gripe I had with my old mainstream Pentecostal church was the same gripe I have with the church growth and emergent movements—a failure to rightly preach the gospel.

But as Strange Fire approached, I had the opportunity to study the charismatic movement with much closer scrutiny than before. In particular, I investigated several influential charismatic leaders, consuming an unhealthy amount of their videos and writing.

That investigation revealed a clear pattern that charismatics follow when engaged in debate. It’s almost a codified playbook of sorts for their self-defense (call it Foxe’s Book of Charismatics With Hurt Feelings), and it goes like this:

  • Dogged insistence that the gifts of prophesy, tongues, and healing continue to the present day.
  • Vague anecdotal evidence in support of the continuation of those gifts.
  • Unshakable confidence that the worst charismatic abusers and charlatans represent only the renegade fringe of the movement, and that they wield limited influence among mainstream charismatics.
  • Staunch refusal to name, criticize, or publically disavow those abusers and offenders at the supposed fringe of the movement.
  • Dire warnings that rejecting anyone who claims to speak on behalf of the Holy Spirit or wield His power is tantamount to rejecting the Spirit Himself.
  • Total disinterest in discussing or debating any doctrinal or ecclesiological issues other than continuationism versus cessationism.
  • Confident assertions about the explosive growth of the charismatic church worldwide, and blithe acceptance that everyone who claims to be a charismatic is an authentic believer.

For many charismatic apologists, their self-defense doesn’t even extend that far. For them, the debate begins and ends with continuationism, so that’s all they ever want to talk about. In fact, most of the responses to Strange Fire have amounted to little more than reviving certain authors’ greatest hits in defense of the continuation of the apostolic gifts.

What’s important about that is this: Strange Fire was not primarily or even significantly about cessationism. Yes, it’s true that one of the keynote sessions made a biblical case for the cessation of the apostolic gifts, while others defended cessationism as the historical position of the church. But it still constituted only one part of a broad response to the charismatic movement as a whole.

In fact, if continuationism was the only issue in the charismatic movement that John MacArthur and the other Strange Fire speakers were concerned about, there likely never would have been a conference or a book to begin with.

Instead, Strange Fire addressed the rampant abuse of the Holy Spirit, the perversion of Scripture, and the danger charismatic teaching and practice represent to hundreds of millions of people around the world. It covered an array of theological and doctrinal issues, and it raised several important questions that charismatics need to address.

And yet a year later, the responses to the conference continue to focus on defending the continuation of the gifts. It makes you wonder whether charismatic leaders are defiant or merely deaf.

So in the interest of advancing the conversation beyond the endless defense of continuationism, let us table that part of the discussion. If it helps, imagine that we’ve conceded that point of debate. (We haven’t, but that’s beside the point at the moment.) There still remains a whole raft of questions and issues that need to be addressed. Questions like:

  • Is there any statistical evidence that proves the so-called “lunatic fringe” of the charismatic world is not actually the mainstream of the movement? Compelling statistics were produced at Strange Fire that indicated the prevalence of prosperity theology in mainstream charismatic churches. Can those numbers be contradicted, or is it time to reconsider who is truly on the fringe?
  • What is the responsibility of charismatic leaders to police their own movement beyond the walls of their individual churches? Who will be willing unequivocally to call out heretics and charlatans? And why are so many charismatics comfortable with false teachers serving as the face of their movement?
  • What constitutes the true, biblical gospel? And what deviations from it qualify as apostasy and heresy? In particular, how do you make sense of the rise of charismatic expressions in the Catholic Church? Is it possible to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit while continuing to reject the biblical gospel?
  • Is Oneness Pentecostalism heresy? Or is perverting the doctrine of the Trinity not really such a big deal after all?
  • How are manufactured experiences—like seeding air conditioning vents with gold flakes and promoting man-made prophecies—helpful or encouraging for true spiritual growth? Why should the proliferation of phonies give anyone confidence that the real thing even exists?
  • Is the prosperity gospel biblical? If not, doesn’t it fall under the curse of Galatians 1:8–9?
  • When it comes to Scripture’s instructions and prohibitions for life in the church—for example, Paul’s clear teaching about female pastors, or his admonition for only one person at a time to speak in tongues—how seriously do we need to take those things today? Again, are these matters worth dividing over?
  • Does the gift of tongues as practiced in charismatic churches today bear any resemblance to the supernatural events on the Day of Pentecost, or any other expression of the gift of tongues found in the book of Acts? If not, why is the dramatic difference acceptable for continuationists?
  • If today’s prophets are not held to the biblical standard of one-hundred percent accuracy, what standard is there for people who make false prophecies? Or is modern prophecy nothing more than a crapshoot?
  • Finally, in the immediate aftermath of Strange Fire, Phil Johnson made an appearance on Dr. Michael Brown’s radio program. Phil issued Brown a challenge—which Brown accepted—to produce any audio of Mike Bickle or someone of similar influence in the charismatic movement making a clear presentation of the gospel. We’re still waiting for that audio.

We want to see someone—anyone—from the charismatic side take up those important issues. Until then, the persistent debate over cessationism and continuationism feels like little more than a deliberate diversion.

If the charismatic movement were truly as vibrant and Spirit-filled as charismatic apologists claim, John MacArthur would never have needed to host the Strange Fire conference or write the book. The issues he and the other speakers raised at Strange Fire should have been dealt with decades ago by charismatics who were faithful to the biblical gospel and recognized the need to address the many perversions that were gaining traction.

Our preference still is for those faithful believers within the movement—who hold fast to Scripture and love the truth—to step up and clean house. Consider these our suggestions about where they might want to start.


 

CORPORATE EXCOMMUNICATION

The excommunication of an individual in your local church should never be done easily or lightly, but sometimes it needs to be done for the love and purity of the church. Done rightly and carefully it exposes false teaching and unrepentant immorality and may have the blessed function of being the means of repentance, reconciliation and the bringing of brothers back into the fold.

This has got me to thinking …due to the doctrinal chaos, immorality and outright rebellion now obvious in evangelicalism, I have thought about whether excommunication could be done on a corporate scale… that is, the excommunication of a church, group of churches of or a ministry. This would have to be done on a scale sufficient enough for everyone to take notice. And even if such an excommunication is not recognized by those excommunicated, it would have the blessed effect of making clear delineation between truth and error, life and death. I know that creeds and confessions served this purpose in the early church and after the Reformation but it seems, if evangelicalism is to have any future, that something like this needs to take place soon. Again it must be done with the utmost care and much be done with pain and difficulty, but that should not stop us for something so important as this. In this day and age, even among those who are theologically conservative, it would probably take a miracle to even agree among ourselves, but if we submitted ourselves to prayer, that miracle just might take place.

 — john_hendryx  
 
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Posted by on October 31, 2014 in #BIBLE, #CHRISTIAN, #CHURCH, #FAITH

 
 
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