Tuesday, June 18, 2013

John MacArthur Misses the Point in "Providing Cover to Charismatics" Video

The video above was posted earlier today at the Grace To You blog. In it John MacArthur seeks to answer the question "What's wrong with taking an open-but-cautious approach to the charismatic movement?" Sadly, however, his answer is troubling because of the way that it misrepresents many who take such a view, especially many who hold to solidly Reformed theology in many respects.

For example, MacArthur wonders why many "prominent, faithful, blessed preachers and theologians" would say that they are open to charismatic phenomena such as tongues, prophecy, healing, etc. He wonders what motivates them, and he suggests a couple of possibilities in response to his own rhetorical question. After he states, "I don't know what the heart motive is," he nevertheless suggests a couple of possible motives. First he suggests that "maybe it's love and acceptance," but with a tone and in a context that leaves one thinking that he means "maybe it's love and acceptance devoid of a proper concern for the truth of God's Word." Then he suggests that "maybe it's kind of a personal longing for something more in their spiritual life," again with a tone and in a context that leaves one thinking that he means "maybe it's a desire for subjective experiences divorced from a proper concern for the truth of God's Word."

But some readers may be wondering at this point why I think MacArthur implies such accusations when he doesn't actually state them. The answer is found in what he doesn't say. For MacArthur doesn't even once consider the possibility that they could be motivated by what they believe is a proper exegesis of Scripture. And thus he leaves the false impression that faithfulness to Scripture isn't -- and couldn't possibly be -- what motivates them. Yet, men such as Wayne Grudem and D.A. Carson have written entire books offering an exegetical defense for their respective Continuationist positions, and many who consider themselves open-but-cautious have been so persuaded by Scripture as well. MacArthur must know -- whether he agrees with the exegesis offered by such men or not -- that they are motivated by faithfulness to Scripture as they understand it, just as I would presume that MacArthur himself is so motivated. But I guess I am trying to be more fair to MacArthur on this point than he has been to some of the men he is criticizing in this video, despite the fact that he avoided mentioning any names.

I also take exception to the way that MacArthur says that such men "provide a certain cover" for the charismatic movement, as though these men haven't been explicit in their criticisms of the various extremes that often accompany the movement. In fact, the "GTY Staff" member who posted the blog entry in which this video was posted makes this misrepresentation even more egregious when he writes, "Being reluctant to criticize charismatic theology may seem like a safe, middle-ground approach for noncharismatic leaders. But as John pointed out, their silence has given cover to false teachers." But who is being referred to here? I suppose there are some men like this out there, but I frankly have never met an open-but-cautious man who cares at all about Scripture or doctrine who hasn't been quite vocal in decrying the many problems and extremes -- both doctrinal and practical -- in much of the charismatic movement.

So both MacArthur's video and the blog entry itself make it sound as though being open-but-cautious -- and thus also being more vocally Continuationist as well -- automatically places one is a situation where he gives cover to false teaching or aberrant practices, and this due to a lack of concern for fidelity to Scripture on their own part.

I would appeal to this blog's readers, however, to be more fair minded in their assessment of the matter. Whether you are a Cessationist or a Continuationist, surely you can see that there are men on both sides of this issue who care deeply about being faithful to Scriptural teaching, even if they disagree about what Scripture actually teaches on this issue.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

SBC Calvinism Advisory Team Seeks Unity on Essentials

On June 3 The Baptist Standard posted an article entitled SBC Calvinism study calls for trust, dialogue in which it was reported that:
An ad-hoc task force appointed to study Calvinism’s impact on the Southern Baptist Convention says the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message is a sufficient guide for orthodoxy in the nation’s second-largest faith group behind Roman Catholics. "We should call upon all Southern Baptists to promote the unity we share within The Baptist Faith and Message and, while recognizing that most Southern Baptists will believe and teach more than what that confession contains, we must never believe or teach less," the 16-member task force says in a 3,200-word report published online at SBC Life.

An informal advisory group appointed by SBC Executive Committee head Frank Page, the task force will not report officially to the convention, but Page is expected to reference it in his report to messengers at the SBC annual meeting scheduled June 11-12 in Houston.
Page named the group last year amid statistics showing that recent seminary graduates embraced a rigid Calvinism at percentages far higher than the people in Southern Baptist pews. Convention leaders worry that young pastors bringing those views into churches can be divisive, particularly if the congregation is unaware of the differences between the two views.
They also fear division among pastors and denominational leaders, as rumor mills circulate reports both of Calvinists trying to “take over” the convention and of qualified scholars being denied teaching jobs because they adhere to Calvinist views.

The committee, chaired by Union University President David Dockery, included both Calvinists, who emphasize God’s sovereignty and downplay free will, and others who accept parts of Calvinism, such as mankind’s fallen state and belief that a truly saved Christian cannot fall from grace, but not ideas like God predetermines who is saved or damned and that Jesus died only for the elect. Read more ...
Today (June 11) The Baptist Standard posted a followup article entitled Advisory team seeks to avert SBC split on Calvinism in which it was reported that:
Growing disagreements over the role of Calvinism will make the Southern Baptist Convention stronger, not weaker, as long as its focus remains on evangelism, members of an advisory team commissioned to study the topic told hundreds in Houston June 10.
But whether the rest of the convention sees it that way will depend on churches, pastors and individuals deciding to trust Baptists with whom they disagree on the subject, team members said.
"I sense an extreme level of anti-Calvinist" sentiment across the convention, said SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page, who convened an advisory team made up of Calvinist and non-Calvinist Southern Baptists.
"I deal with an anti-Calvinism that is beyond harsh," Page, a self-described non-Calvinist said during a question-and-answer session attended by at least 300 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. "Trust is hitting a new low."
That can be overcome only if Baptists on either side of the theological debate speak "not at each other, but to each other," Page said.
The Q&A session centered on the team’s seven-page report, "Truth, Trust, and Testimony in a Time of Tension," which lays out the differences in the views of election and salvation held by each side, and concludes those views can co-exist if everything else is Bible- and Christ-centered. Read more ...
Concerning the "Truth, Trust, and Testimony in a Time of Tension" report, R. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, stated:
This statement speaks volumes about the ability of all Southern Baptists of good faith and good will to work together eagerly and enthusiastically. As the statement affirms, these tensions have been present within the Southern Baptist Convention from the very beginning of our life and work together. We are people who take theology seriously. But we are also people who take seriously our joy and privilege in working together in service to the Great Commission. We also made a bold statement of support for and agreement in The Baptist Faith and Message. We are a confessional people, gladly affirming together the faith once for all delivered to the saints. I am thankful for every member of this task force and for the privilege of working together in this process and on this historic and timely statement. 
For more from Albert Mohler on the statement see his blog article here.

I hope you will join with me in praying for the peace of our SBC brethren as they seek to proclaim the Gospel to a lost and dying world.

The Reftagger Control Panel Added to the Reformed Baptist Blog

Many of the blog's readers will have noticed that we have employed Reftagger here on the blog for years. This is the feature, created by the folks at Logos Bible Software, that brings up a window with a Scripture text whenever a you hover over a Scripture reference on the blog. But some of you may not yet have noticed that just a few weeks ago the Reftagger Control Panel was added to the blog. If you look to the panel on the upper right hand side of the blog under "Choose Bible Translation" you will see the control panel, which has a drop down menu that allows you to select from an assortment of popular translations in which to view a Scripture passage whenever you hover over a reference. Also, if you have the Logos Bible Software loaded on your computer and you check the "Libronix" box on the control panel, then it will add a smallicon next to each reference. Clicking on the icon will automatically open your text in the Logos Bible Software program.

Our thanks to the folks at Logos for making this feature freely available so that our readers may have a better user experience on our blog.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Download R.C. Sproul’s Crucial Questions eBooks For Free

Today I received an email from Ligonier Ministries informing me that the entire Crucial Questions eBook series by R.C. Sproul is now being made available for free forever. Here is what the webpage announcement says:
To further help Christians know what they believe, why they believe it, how to live it, and how to share it, from today the eBook editions of R.C. Sproul’s Crucial Questions series will be free forever.
Can I Be Sure I’m Saved? (Kindle) (iTunes)
Can I Have Joy in My Life? (Kindle)
Can I Know God’s Will? (Kindle) (iTunes)
Can I Trust the Bible? (Kindle) (iTunes)
Does God Control Everything? (Kindle)
Does Prayer Change Things? (Kindle) (iTunes)
How Should I Live in this World? (Kindle) (iTunes)
What Can I Do with My Guilt? (Kindle) (iTunes)
What Does It Mean to be Born Again? (Kindle) (iTunes)
What Is Baptism? (Kindle) (iTunes)
What Is Faith? (Kindle) (iTunes)
What Is the Trinity? (Kindle) (iTunes)
Who Is Jesus? (Kindle) (iTunes)
Who Is the Holy Spirit? (Kindle)
Please share these resources with your church, family, and friends.
As you can see, most of the resources are available in two different formats.