Responding to Michael Brown

I am guest blogging over at the Grace to You blog. I wrote up a response to Michael Brown’s critical remarks against the upcoming Strange Fire conference.

A Mess in the Maternity Ward?

For a month now people have been contacting our ministry insisting that we answer Dr. Brown’s criticisms. Those folks would say John MacArthur wrongfully equates that heretical nonsense saturating TBN with “sound” charismatic continuationists.  If John was truly honest about engaging and taking on genuine continuationists, he would stop going after the TBN health-N-wealth crowd who are easy to attack, and interact with Dr. Brown who represents those “sound” charismatics.  It’s guys like Michael Brown who need to be taken seriously as charismatics, not crack-pots like Benny Hinn.

Well, that is exactly what I do on John’s behalf.  Look: I’ll be the first to say I have benefited from Dr. Brown’s ministry over the last few years I have heard him.  Like I say in my GTY article, his five volume set on answering Jewish objections to Jesus is stellar. Moreover, I highly recommend his massive book, A Queer Thing Happened to America, which is probably the best overview of homosexual activism one can read.  I have also liked Dr. Brown’s defense of Israel as a modern-day nation as well as the biblical teaching about their restoration.

However, on this view of the charismatics, the guy is completely off the rails. He totally damages any credibility when he lends support to such wackos as Cindy Jacobs and the other charlatans who participate at Charisma magazine on-line.  It’s embarrassing, honestly. So much so that I removed the link in my sidebar to his podcast. I can’t recommend him without a clear warning to the people who I may lead to him.

In my opinion, his endorsement of some of the most notoriously bad charismatics places him squarely in the category of disqualification when it comes to his credibility as a scholar.

About these ads

66 thoughts on “Responding to Michael Brown

  1. In what way is this a response? You just make illogical statements and then pontificate.

    You said “This seems to me a mere opinion largely based on bias rather than evidence.” in response to the opening MacArthur quote, and then you play the pragmatic card. Just because Pentecostalism is growing doesn’t make it true. Mormonism and Islam are growing too.

    You asked “Also, is MacArthur suggesting that Pentecostals sin more than Non-Pentecostal/Non-Charismatic?” and I’d suggest that’s absolutely untrue, if not completely absurd.

    You said “The excesses that others commit are in and of themselves no proof that the gifts of the Spirit (as practiced in the Book of Acts and taught is some places in the NT) have ceased.” That’s totally true. The fact that the sign gifts (tongues, apostolic healing and prophecy) are defined in the Bible is what informs us that the modern manifestations that claim to be those things clearly are imposters. Modern tongues is not biblical tongues. Modern prophecy is not biblical prophecy. Modern faith healers and those who claim the gift of healing do not have the biblical gift of healing.

    You said “Can it be imagined that if MacArthur where anywhere near the Upper Room when the Spirit was given, he would denounce this new movement as “Charismatic Chaos”.” Well, the people who mocked were unregenerate mockers. Like Michael Brown, this insinuates that on the day of Pentecost, MacArthur would be in the crowd of the unregenerate.

    You said “For MacArthur to say that “largely” or “virtually” everything that is wrong with the Church “all” comes out of the Charismatic movement may be overstepping the boundary of wise and constructive criticism if not outright reckless. Dr. Brown may have been overly “critical of John MacArthur and his conference”; but MacArthur may have criticized the movements of the Holy Spirit by such wholesale denunciations.” MacArthur may definitely be overstepping things, unless he has biblical precedent for saying what he says. From what I’ve read of your comments here and on my blog, you don’t even understand what the issues are, let alone what MacArthur’s position is. MacArthur isn’t talking about “excesses” like personality worship or sign-obsession or the kinds of things Brown is talking about. He’s talking about false gospels, theological error, and wrongly attributing the modern “tongues”, modern “healing” and modern “prophecy” to the Holy Spirit. If he’s wrong, he’s WAY off base and should lose his ministry and be run out of town. If he’s right, a whole lot of people think they’re experiencing the Holy Spirit when they’re experiencing the work of the Devil. That is not small potatoes.

    You closed off with “I guess we can leave it to readers to judge for themselves which one is the worse.”. As if. We leave it to the Bible to judge for all of us what is the truth.

  2. Pingback: An Update to the Update on the whole Michael Brown/Strange Fire/John MacArthur hullabaloo, with some thoughts on Brown’s article responding to Conrad Mbewe | Watch Your Life and Doctrine Closely...

  3. Pingback: Wonder Working Power | hipandthigh

  4. Interesting thing you say:
    “[In fact, for some the ongoing presence of ‘signs’ like tongue-speaking is to give them assurance that they’re still saved [...]”

    What I am about to say is a general comment, but it’s my experience relating to ALL charismatic/pentecostal churches that I have attended/visited from the past 20 years until about 10 years ago, in two different countries (one in North America and the other in South America). Your statement above is very true in every single of those churches (many, more than 10). I remember that I often wondered how the people in those congregations could not see what their “leaders” were doing. How could they excuse totally immoral behaviour, adultery, money-lusting, only because the person spoke in some “tongues”? Of course, as expected the “don’t touch the annointed” warning was heard very often from the leaders and their associates.

    It was during that time that I seriously started wondering what god that was.

    My point is, a lot of the people who attend churches like that are also confused. They don’t know their bibles (and for that there is no excuse), all they know is what is “taught” from their pulpits, which includes – and it’s emphasized – that tongues is a sign of God’s blessings and true salvation. A lot of the times they reject what the teaching of the doctrines of grace (and the teachers) because they cannot deal even with the slight possibility that what they have been experiencing (and some for most of their lives) and believing is a total fraud. I know that only the Spirit of God can work on their minds and hearts to accept the Truth, in God’s time.

  5. I remember reading that comment from “princess” when it came through email. The twilight zone theme song played in my head at that moment. The Matrix. *shake my head.

    Thank you for having saved us from reading it here as well.

  6. In reply to mennoknight’s comments of August 1, 2013 at 11:21 pm:

    MK: Just because Pentecostalism is growing doesn’t make it true.
    NB: The difference being made is within the different circles of orthodox Christianity. As such, contrary to MacArthur’s opinion, the growth of Christianity within the Pentecostal/Charismatic camps demonstrates God’s blessing and the miraculous manifestations that occur, his Presence.

    MK: You asked “Also, is MacArthur suggesting that Pentecostals sin more than Non-Pentecostal/Non-Charismatic?” and I’d suggest that’s absolutely untrue, if not completely absurd.
    NB: His comment logically and easily implies it. If not, he needs to clarify his statements.

    MK: Modern tongues is not biblical tongues. Modern prophecy is not biblical prophecy. Modern faith healers and those who claim the gift of healing do not have the biblical gift of healing.
    NB: That is the problem with the claims you both make; they are blanket statements and generalizations that can be disproved easily. Of course, one must be open to obvious truths and flexible to correction. If MacArthur did not intend his criticisms to involve the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement as a whole, he needs to clarify his statement.

    In any case, if the “modern tongues” and the “modern healing” movement does to not reflect the Biblical emphasis of the divine Presence, then then demons must be preaching the Good news of salvation in Christ and healing the sick in Jesus’ name. Kind of a strange strategy for the demonic powers to play against his sworn and eternal enemy.

    Are you also suggesting that the Azusa Street revival was demonic, at worst, or, at least, misguided human-induced manifestations that had nothing to do with the God of wonders?

    MK: Well, the people who mocked were unregenerate mockers.
    NB: There is no insinuation that MacArthur is unregenerate. But, admittedly, one does not need to be unregenerate to side with them; just close-minded to the present-day movements of the Spirit. MacArthur’s comments betray an intolerance for such manifestations of God’s awesome Presence; and, yes, I do think – on the basis of his comments – he would unwittingly denounce the Upper Room. It seems not seem that even Jonathan Edwards was as closed-minded as MacArthur (and You?) to present day manifestations of God “extraordinary works”.

    From my readings of the Bible, MacArthur is definitely overstepping precisely because he has no biblical or moral grounds to make such wholesale denunciations.

    And, if you’re correct to say that MacArthur is talking about “false gospels, theological error”, then, he claims that the whole Pentecostal/Charismatic movement is not just unorthodox but demonic (for where do “false gospels” come from?) and, it would only follow that he considers the people within these movements as all deluded (what else can one be who persists in such fatal error?) and, consequently, damned (unless, of course, they repent and follow his pattern of the “gospel”).

    He is wrong; he is “way off”. But, no need to lose his ministry and run him out of town. Rather, let him stay within the confines of his own ministry experiences and not make wholesale denunciations of other people and movements, things he is not prepared to objectively and thoroughly look into, beyond his own circle of ministry.

    What I find funny is that there are those who embrace the Bible as true yet, consider the miraculous events narrated in it’s history as practically irrelevant to modern times, except for maybe providing metaphorical examples for the purpose of an and intellectual explanation of “biblical” concepts (a practice more along the lines of human rationalism rather than the reception of divine revelation).

    See further my views relative to the subject:

    http://atdcross.blogspot.com/2013/07/experience-and-thye-bible.html

    http://atdcross.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-bible-and-experience-afterthoughts.html

    http://atdcross.blogspot.com/2013/07/who-has-gone-out-of-place-that-christ.html

    As far as the miraculous being done today as described in the NT, if the promise of the Spirit, which Peter pointed to as manifested in Acts 2, is “for all who are far off”, then, yes, MacArthur and you are very much mistaken.

    As far as leaving the Bible to be the judge of what is true, for all those who have the anointing, they will know (1 John 2:20).

  7. NB – “The difference being made is within the different circles of orthodox Christianity. As such, contrary to MacArthur’s opinion, the growth of Christianity within the Pentecostal/Charismatic camps demonstrates God’s blessing and the miraculous manifestations that occur, his Presence.”

    MK: – A majority of the growth in the charismatic camp is due to the prosperity gospel, so we’re then not talking about “circles of orthodox Christianity”.

    NB – “His comment logically and easily implies it. If not, he needs to clarify his statements.”

    MK – What comment implies it? Could you clarify?

    NB – “That is the problem with the claims you both make; they are blanket statements and generalizations that can be disproved easily. Of course, one must be open to obvious truths and flexible to correction. If MacArthur did not intend his criticisms to involve the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement as a whole, he needs to clarify his statement.”

    MK – Fair enough. Here’s a little more articulate position than I’ve given:

    Biblical tongues was speaking in distinct earthly languages (Acts 2:6-12) for the purpose of judging the Jewish rejection of the Messiah (Is. 28:1-13; 1 Cor. 14:20-22) and the purpose of confirming the inclusion of the Gentiles into the church (Acts 2:6-12, 17-21, 38-39; 10:44-48; 15:7-11, 14-18; 19:1-7). If the definition of tongues holds, and it is never re-defined in the NT, then it’s easily and irrefutably not present anywhere except in stories about missionaries on Endor, where names, dates and details are mysteriously always unavailable. The two fold purpose of tongues is complete and thus speaking in tongues, if done in the modern era, would be unable to fulfill either one of its biblical purposes.

    Prophecy is the same in nature and authority in both testaments and the verifying tests of absolute truth and unquestionable conformity to previous revelation that were used in the Old Testament were also used in the New Testament (Deuteronomy 13:1-5, 18:20-22; 1 Kings 22:24 – 28; Isaiah 8:18-20; Jeremiah 28:1-9; Acts 11:28, 21:10-12 & 21:27-32). Prophets were God’s spokesmen, revealing the mysteries of God and truths that could not be known through natural means (Genesis 41:15-39; 2 Kings 6:8-12; Daniel 2:10-11, 27-28, 46-47; Matthew 26:68; Romans 16:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:50-52; Ephesians 3:1-6). Though not all prophecies were recorded as scripture (1 Samuel 10:11-12, 19:24; Acts 21:9), scripture is the very word of God as delivered and recorded by his prophets and apostles (2 Peter 1:19-21). Given the continuity between prophets in the Old and New Testaments, given the biblical definition of prophets, and given the biblical parameters of the absolute and unerring nature of true prophecy, it stands to good reason that true prophets are nowhere to be found in the contemporary period (and nobody is willing to be identified as an OT prophet out of fear of the fatal cost of failing the test of validation), but prophets are not removed from the earth forever; legitimate prophets will be found during the tribulation period (Revelation 11:1-13).

    Healing as performed by the prophets, apostles and Jesus (defined as “instantaneous, unchallenged, public, and complete healing of outwardly manifest physical infirmities performed via a spiritually empowered human agent”) has not occurred since the end of the apostolic age (the last recorded healing of this sort was on Malta in Acts 28:8-9). Everyone in the New Testament who healed in this way received the authority to do so directly from Jesus Christ (Luke 9:1; 10:9), and scripture never records an instance of this sort of healing that wasn’t done by a prophet, apostle, or Christ himself. God still miraculously heals people, but in the modern church era, healing is directly performed by God in response to prayer without any human intermediary (Luke 18:1-6; John 5:7-9; 2 Corinthians 12:6-10; James 5:13-16; 1 John 5:14-15). Given the nature, definition and parameters of the apostolic/NT gift of healing, it’s simply not possible for anyone to have this spiritual gift any longer.

    Feel free to easily disprove that all. I look forward to having my rump placed in a satchel.

    NB – “In any case, if the “modern tongues” and the “modern healing” movement does to not reflect the Biblical emphasis of the divine Presence, then then demons must be preaching the Good news of salvation in Christ and healing the sick in Jesus’ name. Kind of a strange strategy for the demonic powers to play against his sworn and eternal enemy.”

    MK – Biblical emphasis of the divine Presence? I don’t know what you’re talking about.

    The demons who preach the Good news of salvation aren’t idiots. If you say one thing (i.e. read the bible) and teach the people to do another (i.e. ignore the scriptures and seek a prophesy), then people aren’t really being taught the scriptures in the first place. They’re being taught error under a thin saran-wrap of orthodoxy that’s both transparent and easily torn.

    False teaching under the veil of orthodoxy isn’t a strange tactic at all. It’s been employed throughout the entire history of Israel and it is proven to work wonderfully. Remember how long the Israelites kept up the “sins of Jeroboam”? Remember the Pharisees?

    Satan’s no dipstick. “Deceiving the trusting” is the first entry on his resume.

    NB – “Are you also suggesting that the Azusa Street revival was demonic, at worst, or, at least, misguided human-induced manifestations that had nothing to do with the God of wonders?”

    MK – Yup.

    NB – “There is no insinuation that MacArthur is unregenerate. But, admittedly, one does not need to be unregenerate to side with them; just close-minded to the present-day movements of the Spirit. MacArthur’s comments betray an intolerance for such manifestations of God’s awesome Presence; and, yes, I do think – on the basis of his comments – he would unwittingly denounce the Upper Room. It seems not seem that even Jonathan Edwards was as closed-minded as MacArthur (and You?) to present day manifestations of God “extraordinary works”.”

    MK – “he would unwittingly denounce the Upper Room”.

    Right. So those unregenerate folks who denounced the Upper Room would include MacArthur?

    THAT’S AN INSINUATION THAT HE’S UNREGENERATE.

    How many ways to I need to ctrl-v your own words to you before you understand the insinuations you’re repeatedly making?

    As for Edwards, nobody was speaking in tongues, prophesying or healing. People were groaning and writhing in their pews under conviction of sin. No manifestations of spiritual gifts at all.

    Have you read the accounts of the revival in Edwards’ day? Where exactly are the tongues and prophesy and healing in that revival?

    NB – “From my readings of the Bible, MacArthur is definitely overstepping precisely because he has no biblical or moral grounds to make such wholesale denunciations.”

    MK – Another ctrl-v response. “That is the problem with the claims you both make; they are blanket statements and generalizations that can be disproved easily.”

    What arguments has he made that have no biblical or moral grounds?

    What arguments has he made in general?

    NB – “And, if you’re correct to say that MacArthur is talking about “false gospels, theological error”, then, he claims that the whole Pentecostal/Charismatic movement is not just unorthodox but demonic (for where do “false gospels” come from?) and, it would only follow that he considers the people within these movements as all deluded (what else can one be who persists in such fatal error?) and, consequently, damned (unless, of course, they repent and follow his pattern of the “gospel”).”

    MK – Nope. Not all the people in the movements. Just the wolves in the flock…which mainly means the leadership/theological defenders. I can think of a bunch of churches of 5,000+ where 5-10 people pull the reigns and deceive 5,000+ well-meaning and faithful believers every week.

    NB – “He is wrong; he is “way off”. But, no need to lose his ministry and run him out of town. Rather, let him stay within the confines of his own ministry experiences and not make wholesale denunciations of other people and movements, things he is not prepared to objectively and thoroughly look into, beyond his own circle of ministry.”

    MK – Why do you get to decide the rules for evangelicalism? Do you have any sort of Biblical grounds for your thoughts?

    NB – “What I find funny is that there are those who embrace the Bible as true yet, consider the miraculous events narrated in it’s history as practically irrelevant to modern times, except for maybe providing metaphorical examples for the purpose of an and intellectual explanation of “biblical” concepts (a practice more along the lines of human rationalism rather than the reception of divine revelation).”

    MK – You know what I find funny? Those who claim to embrace the Bible as from Yahweh and yet don’t pay close attention to it’s words. You’ve yet to walk through any sort of biblical text to show your case. I suspect that the minute we hit the Scriptures, the wheels will fall off your cart.

    Let’s hit the book that God wrote, as if he actually wrote it and actually had something concrete to communicate. Pick any passage, and we’ll see who’s standing when the dust clears.

    As for posting links, summarize your points. I don’t have all day to wade through a bunch of articles looking for whatever it is you think will rock my world. I did glance at them, but your defense of miracles in general (which is not the point of contention here, nor has it ever been), as well as the defense of signs and wonders that utilized Mark 16:20, side-tracked me enough that I couldn’t continue reading your stuff seriously.

    What was it you wanted me to see?

  8. MK – “he would unwittingly denounce the Upper Room”. [which is what I said, not you; just to clarify for the readers"]

    MK: Right. So those unregenerate folks who denounced the Upper Room would include MacArthur? THAT’S AN INSINUATION THAT HE’S UNREGENERATE.

    NB: Don’t have the time right now to answer your objections but here I feel it necessary to point out that you are either misreading my comment, misunderstanding what I have stated, or misrespresenting it.

    What I said was, “There is no insinuation that MacArthur is unregenerate. But, admittedly, one does not need to be unregenerate to side with them…”

    There are times when the regenerate, genuine Christians, take the wrong side of an issue. I believe such is the case here. Of that, I would think we can agree; so let us also agree that we both believe MacArthur to be a genuine believer..

    As such, I am not insinuating that MacArthur is unregenerate. However, if that is what you insist I am doing, there is not much I can do about that. What I said is clearly stated. My conscience is clear, friend.

    Hopefully, i will have time to consider the rest of your objections in the near future…

  9. I just noticed here where you say, along with accusing me of not using scripture (had not realized i was required to post a theological dissertation): “As for posting links, summarize your points. I don’t have all day to wade through a bunch of articles looking for whatever it is you think will rock my world.”

    I placed scripture passages in my articles, so if you want to start anywhere, pick one and slice-n-dice. But if you’re not interested, neither am I. I’m not gong to write a theological dissertation, either; admittedly, I ain’t that smart.

    However, I do know Jesus Christ. He has spoken to me in an audible voice and he has heard my prayers maybe not in such miraculous ways as he’s done for others, nevertheless, he answers when I call as loving father answers a son. It may not be much but it is enough for me to believe God can do wonderful miracles and does do them today. I don’t need to see it to believe it. I believe it because, for me, it makes sense to believe that an awesome God can do awesome things…heal the sick, raise the dead, etc.

    You don’t have to believe it and you can fanagle all the supporting “scripture passages” to your side as proof that you are right and those who believe in God performing miracles today are wrong. All I can say is, my reading of the Bible proves to me otherwise; that in spite of cessationist views, in spite of the wolves raping the flock and carrying off the wealth, in spite of my lack of theological acumen, Jesus Christ is the same today as when he walked the earth and the Spirit he sent is the same Spirit that falls on believers today as he did in the Upper Room.

    I’m sure you can roundly (if not soundly) refute any verses I may present to you; therefore, you will pardon me if I don’t take your challenge. It would only be a waste of both our time. My time because I am honestly not concerned with what you believe; your time, because you seem to believe you have it all together and need no further testimony of what you already know to be either, in general, theologically correct or theoloically wrong re: the gifts of the Spirit and their significance for us today (and, I must admit, I am also convinced in what I believe is the correct reading and understanding of the Bible, at least in general, as far as the Spirit’s gifting is concerned).

    I’m not a cessationist. As long as the Bible reads that God can do exceeding, abundantly beyond all that we may think or ask, as long as there is the anointing that leads and confirms the truth, I will believe God works in Christ through the Spirit now as he did the the days of Moses, Elijah, Jesus’ earthly sojourn, and the Apostles, and throughout the ages of the Church’s life until now.

    You would only waste your time to convince me otherwise: “All things are possible to him who believes.”

  10. Pingback: Articles on Cessationism and Contiuationism | hipandthigh

  11. So, Dr. Michael Brown endorses the heretical false teaching of Benny Hinn when he appeared on his show recently,?

  12. I don’t know that he endorses Hinn, but he won’t rebuke him either, so he is sort of dancing on the fence. Not to praise Brown for this compromise, but MacArthur does the same thing in refusing to out the sinners in his own camp, such as those who cover up child molestation and attack the victims and their families. So, you could say silence might be interpreted as at least lack of opposition.

    I see the worst thing about Hinn not as his weird teaching, but his, “devouring widow’s houses,” in his fleecing the poor and needy.

  13. but MacArthur does the same thing in refusing to out the sinners in his own camp, such as those who cover up child molestation and attack the victims and their families.

    What? And who might that be exactly? I am gonna take a guess and think you mean the ridiculous allegations against Mahaney?

  14. If you read the court transcripts, the allegations are anything but ridiculous, and many of the offenders sit in jail currently. If you choose to accept the rendition of your camp leaders as truth without investigating the evidence and hearing the other side, many scriptures, especially in Proverbs, warn about making a decision before hearing both sides, being a respecter of persons, and standing idly by your brother’s blood, among many others. We are told that he who stops his ears to the cries of the needy will one day cry out himself and not be heard. The only reason Mahaney and his co-conspirators did not go to jail is that Maryland doesn’t put clergy in the category of mandated reporters of child abuse. In Oklahoma, two ministers went to jail for doing the same thing. He was able to deflect most of the civil litigation due to statue of limitations, not lack of evidence. And the reason the statute of limitations came into play was because Mahaney and friends counseled and threatened the families into silence (for their own good of course.) We know that one who causes one of these little ones to stumble (for example, by getting molested in church and then attacking the victims and their families) would be better off to have a stone put around their neck and be cast into the sea. I’m guessing you don’t have any children, or would be wiling to entrust them to Mahaney?

    I have some personal knowledge of Mahaney et al, although it was many years ago. Read if you like: http://endtimechaverim.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/the-c-j-mahaney-and-sgm-fiasco-or-why-am-i-not-surprised/

  15. Sorry, you won’t find a sympathetic ear with me in regards to your take on Mahaney and events that took place a good number of years ago. If you are correct that the offenders sit in jail, then those are the folks who need to be in jail.

    None the less, to compare Brown going on Benny Hinn’s tv show with MacArthur and conclude that it is the same as him not preaching some railing sermon against Mahaney, demonstrates a troubling lack of discernment and judgment on your part. Initially you came here posting a long, rambling, non-sensical comments attempting to draw like comparisons between Brown and Michael. If I recall, you tried to post similar sentiments at GTYs blog also.

    Just so you know, I won’t post any further comments about the Mahaney stuff, so save yourself the effort in pounding out a long winded comment about it.

  16. What an asinine inference to imply that appearing on one’s show demonstrates approval of their every whim. Not only is your doctrine filled with unbelief but your character is sorely lacking.

Leave me a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s