Pharisees hate integration and humility. Why? Because it keeps them from claiming superiority and prevents them from sitting on the throne of their own absolute authority. Today, we see a lot of this in some circles. Sadly, we see this attitude expressed very arrogantly in some Reformed camps. When the present generation fails to understand the wisdom of the previous generation, they always create division instead of biblical unity. True unity depends on two essential elements–the truth of God (the Bible), and the Holy Spirit of God.
If we attempt unity only on the Bible, we are left with the dry orthodoxy of natural minded men holding to propositional facts about God. If we attempt it only with the Holy Spirit, we have existential foolishness apart from any standard to evaluate. True unity must have the Word and the Holy Spirit. The propositional with the experiential. The mind with the heart. The descriptive with the demonstrative. The facts of the message with the living fellowship with Christ.
Dr. John MacArthur is a prime example of ministering from the head without including the heart, the Word without the Holy Spirit, dryness of teaching apart from the living presence of God. He seems to be constantly leading a book promotion tour for his “Strange Fire” release by continually attacking and throwing non-cessationists under the bus of his fundamentalism. After years of watching Dr. MacArthur and reading many of his books, it is sad to see him spiral downward into this pit of hostility. This is especially sad when you watch some of the conference videos and see the laughter, mocking and snickering the speakers express as they toss out everything supernatural. Exposing the false always carries the danger of crossing a line and painting with too broad of a brush.
Thank God for lifting the skirts on the disgusting, manipulative and demonic activities of the majority of Charismatic leaders, especially those we see on religious TV programming. However, when wisdom is not used, those leading the charge will also implicate millions of godly believers who distant themselves from these extremes. The days of dry dogma are over. I know some dear Reformed brothers who minister under the living presence and joy of the Lord. They are not afraid of the presence of the Holy Spirit…in fact they cry out in prayer for it and their ministries are very fruitful. MacArthur and his ilk, in the name of protecting orthodoxy, are killing it by removing it from the living reality that we serve a living Savior who is ever present with us! (Matt. 28:20) God’s presence is not a theory or just a theological discussion. It it also existentially true. The Bible says that God’s Spirit bears witness to us, guides us, teaches us and empowers us. There is nothing hokey, dry or strange about that.
On the other hand we have Dr. John Piper, who is also Reformed. He takes a wiser position that rebukes the excesses while encouraging the genuine. He also sees and addresses the errors within the dry emotionless Reformed churches. (Click Here to read John Piper’s response) He is not pharisaical or aloof like we see with Dr. MacArthur. The difference is startling in humility, in life, in correction and in example. We need more leaders ministry with wisdom instead of with an axe to grind.
I’m afraid that Dr. MacArthur would have sided with the Pharisees and lawyers who accused John the Baptist of having a demon, and called Jesus a glutton, drunkard and friend of sinners. (Luke 7:30-35) And the source of his monotone and dry teaching seems to be obvious–he appears to be afraid of the Holy Spirit. He has a plethora of biblical knowledge, but after all, knowledge can puff up if not mixed with love and humility. (1Cor. 8:1-2) There are a lot of men, like myself, who reject the Charismatic foolishness of the TV evangelists without rejecting the gifts. We realize that apart from the presence of the Holy Spirit true revival will not come, and that man cannot put God’s work in a box. We are praying that John MacArthur would humble himself before the Lord and pull out of this broad brushed course of hostility his later years of ministry have turned into. We pray he finishes his course well.
Thank God we can rebuke and expose the false, but woe to us when we neglect the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit. When entrusted by God to minister His Word, we must be careful not to throw out the genuine. Discernment and rebuke certainly requires truth. But they also require humility…and lowliness of mind…and brokenness…and wisdom. Thank God for men like John Piper who understand this.
“Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.” (Luke 9:35)