John MacArthur’s “Strange Fire”

YEINfrntDear friends,

In the light of “current affairs”, I thought this might be of interest to you, or through you, to others who might ask.

I have no desire to debate with anyone. I have better things to do.

However, some have been asking for resources to refute John MacArthur, and other Cessationist claims. I did my doctoral dissertation critiquing Cessationism, and if anyone has the appetite to read doctoral level academic stuff, it’s available in soft cover, Kindle, E-pub and pdf. Short version: Cessationism is a modern, man-made hermeneutic that undermines the entire gospel:

Here is a brief sample of what “non-charismatics” from prior to the “charismatic movement” had to say about John MacArthur’s “doctrine”:

Writing in the 1960s D. Martin Lloyd Jones said (referring to the need for power in charismatic continuation):

My friends, this is to me one of the most urgent matters at this hour.

Referring to Cessationism he said:

Anyone who cuts out portions of Scripture is guilty of very grievous sin.

Cessationism is guilty, straight and simple, of quenching the Spirit. Lloyd-Jones comments to this effect:

I say once more, therefore, that to hold such a view [Cessationism] is simply to quench the Spirit.

From: D. M. Lloyd-Jones, The Sovereign Spirit: Discerning His Gifts (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1985), 33. I found the work to be an honorable and honest handling of the material and particularly refreshing considering Lloyd-Jones’ Reformed background.

William Law wrote over two hundred years ago (hardly a lunatic charismatic!) in regard to the need for spiritual power:

Therefore to say that because we now have all the writings of Scripture complete we no longer need the miraculous inspiration of the Spirit among men as in former days is a degree of blindness as great as any that can be charged upon the scribes and the Pharisees.

And again William Law:

There is no degree of delusion higher than that which is evidenced by those who profess to teach from the divinely inspired Scriptures that the immediate, continual illumination and working of the Spirit in men’s hearts ceased when the canon of Scripture was complete. To deny the present prophetic gift in the church is to deny also that very manifestation of Christ today to His own which the Scriptures teach is the only means to the reality of Gospel Christianity.

From: W. Law, The Power of the Spirit, ed. Dave Hunt (Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 1971), 61.

Referring to the indwelling Spirit and the empowerment of the believer, A. B. Simpson, the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance who was once a cessationist Presbyterian, said:

But He has left to us the same power He possessed.

This [the indwelling Holy Spirit to continue Jesus’s life and ministry and to perpetuate miracles] is the mighty gift of our ascended Lord. This is the supreme need of the church today.

. . . the constitution of the church is identical with the twelfth chapter of First Corinthians. . . We cannot leave out any part of the gospel without weakening the rest; and if there ever was an age when the world needed the witness of God’s supernatural working, it is the day of unbelief and satanic power.

From: A. B. Simpson, The Holy Spirit, Vol. II (Harrisburg: Christian Publications, n.d.), 20.

Richard Gaffin, a Cessationist exegete, has admitted that 1 Cor. 13:10 cannot refer to the closing of the canon:

. . . the (sic) coming of “the perfect” (v.10) and the ‘then’ of the believer’s full knowledge (v.12) no doubt refer to the time of Christ’s return. The view that they describe the point at which the New Testament canon is completed cannot be made credible exegetically.

From: R. Gaffin, Perspectives on Pentecost (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1979), 109.

The short version of the story is:  MacArthur, and other Cessationists like him, are simply wrong, misguided, and spiritually bigoted.


Copyright 2013,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, #http:/ Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact you like to partner with us in distributing our materials and perhaps generate some income for yourself? 
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10 comments on “John MacArthur’s “Strange Fire”

  1. Thank you, Steve!!!! God bless you. I’m not a scholar like you, what I know I’ve studied under sound teachers & Holy Spirit. I don’t have a doctorate or plan in getting one at this late age (64) but I appreciate scholarly works, and I appreciate YOU and all you do to lead us, the Body, in Truth and the Word.



    Sent from my iPhone

    • Thanks Margi, We don’t need an advanced degree to be effective for Jesus. We all have a different portion of His field to plow. Together, we make up the whole, more beautifully than any of us could alone.

  2. The attack is typical of a movement with empty church buildings, depressed pastors and boring religious services.
    They have been tried and rejected by this generation. Their seminaries have dwindled to just a few faithful and are at the point of closing for lack of income.
    Maybe in 1970-1980 somebody was listening today in 2013 “funny-mentalists” are not even old news.
    What a waste of Gods money and time!

  3. Excellent, Steve – I agree with your post wholeheartedly. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to live the Christian life. To think we can live the Christian life with the finished Canon of scriptures alone is grieving/blaspheming/quenching the Spirit!

    I was forwarded this article via the site and thought it spoke into the issue very poignantly as well.

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